Compression used to be just the final step in video editing – you’d export each clip from your video editing software to the final delivery format, and then go off to bed as your machine was tied up crunching away. These days, compression has been decoupled from editing with components like Apple Compressor with Final Cut Studio and Adobe Media Encoder with Premiere Pro, which provide more control over managing and scheduling your compression work.
Today, compression is more of a separate process, focused on readying clips for delivery, in multiple formats to multiple destinations. And there’s another step beyond outputting files-actually delivering the resulting clips to their final destination.
This is the model for Sorenson Squeeze 6, released in November 2009, with expanded support for automating the encoding process, plus a new end-to-end workflow for delivery, even including a review and approval cycle. Squeeze is still available in multiple versions: Squeeze 6 for Flash is $499, based on Sorenson’s background in online delivery formats (FLV, SWF, MPEG-4), and the full Squeeze 6 is $799 (adding MPEG-1 and 2, MOV, WMV, and variants).
As an encoding engine, the new version of Squeeze supports additional compression formats including AVC-Intra, WMV with VC-1 for Blu-ray Disc and Microsoft Silverlight, and QuickTime export formats, and boasts five times faster encoding for On2 VP6 and H.264. It also adds new video enhancement filters including RGB, Tint, White Balance, and Timecode.
Delivery and Review Workflow
But Squeeze goes beyond encoding to also automate the delivery workflow. The Publishing Options allow you to specify one or more pre-defined destinations for the final output. You can copy the encoded result to a local (or networked) folder, or send it directly to an application. And you can upload over the Internet, to share directly on YouTube or Twitter, or transfer to a content delivery network (Akamai, Limelight, or Sorenson 360), or upload elsewhere by FTP.
Since these jobs can take some time to process all your files, Squeeze now has built-in Notifications to send an e-mail or text message when jobs are completed. These can optionally support a review and approval process, to have the recipient view the encoded footage and send a response. This works through the Sorenson 360 video publishing platform; a one-year free account is included with Squeeze.
Customizing Presets and Filters
All of these options fit cleanly within the updated Squeeze 6 interface, with adjustable options panels down the left side of the window, next to the Preview Window for reviewing clips and the Job Window below to build the list of work to be done.
First, use the top Input Options panel to import files (or capture directly from DV tape), which adds them as sources in the Job Window. Then, drag and drop from the other panels to specify the Presets (compression options), Filters, Publishing Options, and Notifications to be applied to the sources.
Sorenson has packaged up the complexity of compression formats and options into pre-defined presets for the different encoding formats and destination types, with options for common resolutions, data rates, and streaming formats. These are further organized into tabs in the Presets panel, to quickly browse Editing or Web formats, and destinations including Devices or Discs. Of course, you can create your own presets to specify advanced options for video and audio compression.
Similarly, Squeeze can clean up and enhance your clips using the options in the Filters panel. Or you can define your own filter set using the 25-some individual video and audio filters. You then can preview the resulting effect on your source clips with a split-screen view in the Preview Window.
However, Squeeze goes much deeper into automating encoding beyond building a list of files and options. You can save and re-use projects for recurring customers. Within the projects, you can customize your own options, and then import and export presets and filters to share them with others. Even better, the preset definitions also can contain filters and publishing options, so you can apply all these options in one operation. In addition, Sorenson has set up a Preset Exchange site as a repository of professional video encoding presets, with some 190 variants currently posted.
For further control for automating encoding, a Squeeze project can be more than a list of files. A project can contain multiple jobs, each with multiple source files and their associated options. Presets and other options can be applied to individual sources, or as global options applied as the default to all the files in the job (such as deinterlace and crop to the aspect ratio).
To further automate your workflow as you edit and export new clips, you can set up Squeeze to monitor Watch Folders, and then automatically encode any files added to the folder, using the specified options. This is especially useful for networked editing with a dedicated encoding computer to compress and deliver the results.
Squeeze is built for our new world of digital media – delivering videos for viewing on a wide variety of platforms, from physical discs to streaming over the Web, and viewed on the desktop computer to set-top boxes to portable media players and game systems.
So get automated about your encoding – download the free trial of Squeeze 6, check out the pre-defined presets, and see how you can package up the many delivery formats for your projects, and even the approval process for your customers.
Windows: Pentium IV-based computer or greater, Windows XP, Vista or 7, 512 MB RAM, 120 MB available hard drive space, QuickTime 7.2 or later, DirectX 9.0b or later
Mac: Intel-based processor, Mac OS 10.4 or later, 512 MB RAM, 120 MB available hard drive space, QuickTime 7.2 or later
Input Formats: AAC, AC3, AIF/AIFF, ASF, AVC-Intra, AVI, DV, MOV, MP3, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC-1, WAV, WMA, WMV
Publish Formats: aacPlus, AAC, AC3, AIFF, AVI, Sony PSP, 3GPP, DVD, DV Stream, Image Sequence, FLV (Sorenson Spark, and On2 VP6), F4V, HD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MP3, MP4 (H.264), MOV, SWF, WAVE, WMV, plus other QuickTime export components
Video Encoders:Main Concept H.264, VC-1, MPEG-2; On2 VP6 Pro; QuickTime; Real Media Sorenson H.264 Pro; Sorenson MPEG-4 Pro (Visual Simple and Visual Profile); Sorenson Spark Pro
Audio Encoders: aac Audio, aacPlus Audio, ACELP RealAudio, ADPCM, ATSC A/52,
QuickTime compatible audio codecs, Fraunhofer MP3
- Extensive format coverage: Desktop,editing, discs, devices, Web
- Advanced compression options, even select specific codec
- Import / export presets and filters, share online at Preset Exchange
- Upload and notify on completion, with integrated review and approval process
- Integrated with Sorenson 360 video delivery platform
- Integrated export from Avid, Apple Final Cut Pro, iMovie, QuickTime
- Would be helpful to schedule / queue compression jobs
- Cannot capture/import direct from tapeless cameras (i.e., AVCHD)
- Limited built-on Help (15 page User Guide)
- Telecine frame rate conversion, but not NTSC / PAL
Doug Dixon covers digital media at Manifest-Tech.com.
Sorenson Media, Inc.
4179 Riverboat Rd., Ste. 208
Salt Lake City, UT 84123
$800, $500 for Flash