Cleaner 5 at a Glance

Publisher: Terran Interactive
Price: $599

Overall Impression: Very clean interface, exceptional compression, wide variety of codecs, great interactivity. This is the best tool on the market for encoding video for the Web.

Key Benefits: Cleaner 5 offers the best video compression I've ever seen. The new interactive features take this application to the next level, bringing power to QuickTime that was previously unavailable at a price point this low.

Disappointments: None. But there is currently no "lite" version, nor is there a Power Suite version. (Media Cleaner Pro 4 could be purchased along with an Ultra BlueICE board to accelerate encoding. This option is not yet available for Cleaner 5, so you must rely entirely on the CPU.)

Recommendation: Strong Buy.


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Terran Interactive's Cleaner 5

Video compression and interactive encoding

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

It would be physically impossible for me to write this review without gushing. I was first introduced to Terran Interactive's Cleaner family of products through Media Cleaner EZ and, later, through Media Cleaner Pro, and I was instantly in awe of the sheer data smashing power of these applications, which could take huge video files and shrink them down to almost nothing while maintaining great image quality. We've been crunching QuickTime files with Media Cleaner Pro (as well as the Media Cleaner Power Suite) here at Digital Media Net and DMN TV on a daily basis for some time now, and the results have been stunning. The quality is impressive; the speed is pretty decent; and the compression is nothing short of impossible.

Now along comes Cleaner 5, the followup to Media Cleaner Pro, with an improved video processing engine, Velocity optimization for the G4 and a whole host of new and enhanced features, and suddenly I'm in awe all over again.

What is it?
If you're familiar with previous members of the Cleaner family (Media Cleaner Pro, Media Cleaner EZ, Media Cleaner Compression Suite, Media Cleaner Power Suite), skip to the next section. If you're not, read on.

Cleaner 5 is a suite of tools for preparing video and audio for the Web. Frankly, it's the best set of tools for doing so. Sure, you can compress and encode video and audio from virtually any NLE or compositing application out there, but these applications can't do it like Cleaner 5. By analogy, Cleaner 5 is to audio and video encoding what Macromedia Fireworks is to JPEG encoding. Nothing compares. Cleaner encodes QuickTime, RealSystem 8, Windows Media, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, MP3, DV and a whole host of other formats. For QuickTime alone, it includes 25 codecs, and its implementation is unparalleled.

But compression is only one of its functions. It also ships with MotoDV for bringing in video directly through your FireWire ports and into Cleaner. It supports direct export from a number of video editing applications (Adobe Premiere, Media 100i and several Avid systems). And it allows you to add interactive elements to your videos through a technology called EventStream, which we first saw in Media 100i. Finally, it provides tools for publishing your video or audio projects on the Web.

Basically, it's the total professional video tool for the Web.

What's it got that you ain't got?
If you work in Media Cleaner Pro 4, you're probably quite happy with what you have. So why should you upgrade? It depends on what you're doing, but there are good reasons for everybody. For a relatively low upgrade fee (even lower if you've purchased Media Cleaner Pro since Sept. 10), you get a whole new world of joy.

What got my juices flowing about Cleaner 5 first was the inclusion of EventStream, which also happened to be one of my favorite features of Media 100i. (Media 100 owns Terran Interactive.) EventStream lets you add interactive features to your movie files, whether these be QuickTime, Real or Windows Media, which are then read by the end user's media player. (QuickTime accepts all possible EventStreams, while Real and Windows Media are more limited.) This means that you can take any video file and encode it with interactivity, regardless of its source. You can also use events created in Media 100i. Events you can create from scratch in Cleaner 5 include:

  • Hotspot (QuickTime, Real): This lets you draw areas (ovals and rectangles) on your video footage, which can then perform actions when the user clicks on these areas. Hotspots can be applied to any layer in a video as well, so, for example, you can use custom graphics that can act as controls in QuickTime for play and pause, rather than using the default buttons. Hotspots can also open a URL (including targeting frames), go to a different time in the movie and replace a movie. (Note that the play and pause features only work in QuickTime.) You can include any number of hotspots in your movie, each of which can perform different actions, and each of which can have their own durations, which you can set manually though a simple interface.

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