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After Effects - QuickTime Windows Issues Detailed

  • Published on April 20, 2016
After Effects - QuickTime Windows Issues Detailed

If you use After Effects, QuickTime from Apple is likely installed on your computer. Adobe After Effects uses QuickTime on Windows and Mac computers to encode and export animations, effects, and video to a number of video formats. Adobe does not include all export functionality directly within After Effects. To create some video formats from After Effects, this Adobe Creative Cloud app uses QuickTime to export or render certain video format types. Adobe’s reliance on Apple’s QuickTime for After Effects, especially on Windows computers, has become a significant problem for Creative Cloud users. QuickTime for Windows has been identified as a security hazard by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) which is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, Apple is reportedly ending future support of QuickTime for Windows. This leaves Adobe Creative Cloud users, especially those involved in video production and effects creation, in a bind.

There are two known security problems with QuickTime for Windows that impact After Effects and Creative Cloud users. Both security problems allow someone to possibly use QuickTime as a pathway to install malicious software on a computer. While QuickTime itself is not a problem, it leaves a possible back-door for someone to use in installing malware or spyware on a computer.  

On Apple’s Mac OS computers QuickTime generally is not a concern, as it is from Apple and is installed within Mac OS computers such as a PowerBook or iMac by default, effectively integrated into the operating system. Windows users have dramatically different experience as After Effects uses QuickTime for Windows, but neither Microsoft nor Adobe install the utility. Rather, it is expected that those using After Effects for Windows will have already located and installed QuickTime. In the near future, it is likely Apple will remove the QuickTime installer from their website due to the security concerns caused by it. Even with the installer available, many Windows users will chose to not install it, or will be prohibited from installing QuickTime due to security concerns. It is not just the US-CERT recommending that QuickTime be avoided. Other security vendors such as Trend Micro are suggesting that it be uninstalled, as it has existing security problems that Apple has stated they do not intend to fix. As part of the After Effects classes and Creative Cloud courses, Windows users will no longer be using QuickTime-based export and rendering options, as it has been removed from computer systems as a security precaution.

Adobe Creative Cloud users are left to wonder why Adobe continued to rely on Apple QuickTime to render certain video formats from After Effects and Premiere Pro. While Apple updated QuickTime for Windows in January, since that time they have told other vendors that Apple planned to discontinue support for QuickTime for Windows. This makes it highly likely that Adobe knew about Apple’s plans yet failed to create a suitable solution for Creative Cloud customers.

The only way Windows After Effects users can address QuickTime security concerns is to uninstall the application according to both TrendMicro and US-CERT, which said in their notice, “"The only mitigation available is to uninstall QuickTime for Windows." Adobe has yet to announce any plans for how Creative Cloud users, including those using Premiere Pro and After Effects can work without QuickTime.

Adobe's Creative Cloud team has posted a blog entry acknowledging the dependency of Creative Cloud on QuickTime for video and animation import and export. According to Adobe's Creative Cloud team there is "no estimated timeframe for native decode currently." which means that Creative Cloud for Windows users have to make a choice between being secure and losing significant functionality for video and animation, or retaining the functionality and compromising security on their computers. Adobe has created a no-win situation for their Windows Creative Cloud users.

About the author

Christopher Smith is president of American Graphics Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the publisher and editor of the Digital Classroom book series, which have sold more than one million copies. At American Graphics Institute, he provides strategic technology consulting to marketing professionals, publishers and to large technology companies including Google, Apple, Microsoft, and HP. An expert on web analytics and digital marketing, he delivers Google Analytics training along with workshops on digital marketing topics. He is also the author of more than 10 books on electronic publishing tools and technologies, including the Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies. Christopher did his undergraduate studies the at the University of Minnesota, and then worked for Quark, Inc. prior to joining American Graphics Institute where he has worked for 20 years.