QuickTime is more than just video. It can marry many forms of media – video, sound, text and animations made with Macromedia Flash. QuickTime movies can also contain interactivity, such as clickable buttons that lead to Web pages.
Totally Hip Software’s LiveStage Professional is the only program that can fully tap all of QuickTime’s interactive capabilities. And LiveStage Professional 3.01 adds support for Flash 4, XML, and QuickTime 5. But, like previous versions, LiveStage Professional 3.01 is often difficult to learn.
With version 3.01, LiveStage Professional has gone multi-platform. It’s available for Windows, so you can share project files between operating systems. In addition, the Mac version now runs under both Mac OS 9 and OS X. We tested it under OS X 10.1 with good results, though some of the program’s icons and interface elements are a bit crude by Aqua standards.
The LiveStage 3.01 authoring process is similar to that of earlier versions. You import existing content created in other programs, position it within the Stage window, and create scripts that specify how the content interacts. You can test your projects as you go, using LiveStage’s debugging window to track down scripting errors. When you’re finished, you can save a completed project as a QuickTime movie that will play back in any program with QuickTime support.
Many of LiveStage 3.01’s enhancements take advantage of features in QuickTime 5. For example, because QuickTime 5 supports Flash 4, Live-Stage 3.01 projects can contain Flash 4 content.
Another significant feature is LiveStage 3.01’s ability to import and export projects as XML text files. This makes it possible to create dynamic QuickTime movies that display different content depending on various criteria, such as the time of day.
Like previous versions, LiveStage Professional 3.01 buries much of its power in a confusing interface. Changing the properties of media assets may require a journey across multiple tabs of a dialog box, and windows quickly litter your screen.
If you’re a professional QuickTime developer, you need LiveStage Professional 3.01 – no other program does as good a job of tapping into QuickTime’s versatility. But if you’re a multimedia developer who needs interactive QuickTime only every once in a while, consider contracting with a developer who has already slogged to the summit of Mount LiveStage. This isn’t a program for occasional dabbling.