Benchmark: Terran Interactive Media Cleaner Pro 4

Cleaned and (Com)pressed Video

Sometimes, having your project fully edited leaves you wondering, "Now what?" How do you get your finished product cleaned-up and compressed for delivery without a lot of hassle? Self-touted as "the industry standard for dynamic media compression," Media Cleaner Pro 4 can do both, in a variety of formats.
Terran Interactive aimed this program at people who have a need for more options when creating their distribution media files. With enough bells and whistles to please the pros, not to mention semi-pros and ambitious amateurs, Media Cleaner Pro 4 is an impressive package of tools, all rolled up into an easy-to-learn package.

Installing Media Cleaner Pro 4

Installation for us was fairly straightforward: we inserted the CD into our Win98 test system, comprised of a Celeron-433 with 80MB RAM with the NeoMagic MagicGraph 128 video card, and Setup did the rest. The only thing that gave us hesitation was the first screen, which gave us the choice of using either a Wizard or the "advanced settings". It was not immediately plain which we wanted, so we chose the Wizard, which was good, as it helped us get going quicker with Media Cleaner Pro 4. Regardless which you choose, you can always change later; it just seems an odd place for this dialog box.
The system requirements for Media Cleaner Pro 4 are not too severe, although we found that the more horsepower you can give it, the better. We installed Media Cleaner Pro 4 on a second system, a Win98 PIII-500 with 128MB RAM and the ATI All-In-Wonder 128 video card, and found that compression went much faster.

Easy to get Started

When you run Media Cleaner Pro 4, you are first presented with its main screen. It is here that you start adding media to your batch. You can have a "hopper" full of media waiting to be cleaned and compressed, all to the same settings; this makes it easy to get all your Website’s media prepared while you carry out other tasks.
When you have the media you want, and have chosen a few basic settings in the Wizard, you are ready to press "Start". One cool feature of their Wizard is that for each choice you make, such as frame rate or audio quality, you see an example, so you can compare and then choose.
As the processing and compressing is going on, you have a split-screen view of the media so you can see the "before" and "after" right beside one another (you can even adjust the split). Also, the program tells you how long the processing will take to complete; we found these estimates to be quite accurate for QuickTime output, and somewhat less so for other formats.

An Amazing Array of Advanced Settings

Clicking on the "Advanced Settings" tab leads you to a window of options for almost everything, organized in an Explorer-style tree structure. You can work in all major computer video formats: QuickTime, RealNetworks, WindowsMedia, DV and MPEG, as well as many still image and sound formats. You can even program any number of different formats as output, from the same source, with the same settings, or different, all into your batch at once.
You can convert from one format to another without processing, and without loss, or you can adjust the image and sound in any of a myriad of ways. There is a very rich set of filters and masks you can apply to your video, and you have a great deal of control over the video itself as well, with cropping and full-featured color balancing. You can choose frame rate, codec, data-rates, and key-frames as well as the unique parameters of each of the codecs.
When producing QuickTime files, you have access to all the QT4 effects, such as "Fire" and "Film Noise", with an array of options for each one of them. Also with QuickTime Streaming files, you can select an "Alternate" file to create, which allows you to have both high and low bandwidth files created together.


A Few Quirks

While testing, we did experience a few quirks, usually when we did something we shouldn’t have, like trying to convert from QuickTime to QuickTime. We did find a recent update on the Terran Website: version 4.0.2. After downloading and installing this update, we had fewer of these "quirks", although we did experience a couple of crashes, which we easily recovered from by simply re-executing the program. Our batch was intact, and we progressed with our work.
Because of these events, we went ahead and installed Media Cleaner Pro 4 on an NT4 system (NT Service Pack 6, PII-233, 256MB, ATI All-In-Wonder Pro), and did not experience any further problems.

Extremely Powerful Yet Accessible

Overall, we really liked Media Cleaner Pro 4, both for what it did, and what it did not do: it never made you delve any deeper into compression schemes and data-rates and key-frames than you needed. It did produce high-quality media files, compressed for virtually any delivery option, from streaming internet files to files suitable for slower speed CD-ROM drives.
If you want something easy to clean and compress your media into a variety of formats, Media Cleaner Pro 4 is it. If you are an expert at file formats, streaming, and compression, then you’ll find the rich set of features give you the power and choice you want as well.

TECH SPECS

Terran Interactive, Inc.

Media Cleaner Pro 4

Platform PC and Mac (PC version tested)

Minimum system requirements

Operating System Windows 9x, NT 4.0 or later; MacOS 8 or later

Processor Pentium 200 MHz (Win) Any PowerPC (Mac)

RAM 32MB for Win9x; 64MB for NT; 16MB application RAM plus 1-2MB system RAM for Mac

Disk space 5MB (150MB to install all sample movies)

Monitor capable of displaying 640×480, 16bit

CD-ROM drive (2x or faster recommended)

QuickTime 3.0 or later (QuickTime 4.0 included)

Recommended system

Above, but with monitor capable of displaying 800×600, 24bit.

TEST RESULTS

Strengths

  • Easy to use
  • Powerfull (Mac version optimized for the G4 Velocity Engine)
  • Flexible

Weaknesses

  • Not optimized for multi-processor PC’s

Summary

  • For people who need more choices when creating delivery media, a complete and comprehensive powerhouse.

Media Cleaner Pro 4

($499)Terran Interactive, Inc.15951 Los Gatos Blvd., Suite 1Los Gatos, CA 95032(800) 577-3443www.terran.com

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here