Compression (Part 4 of 4)
Using Final Cut Pro and the Sorenson Video Codec
to Prepare QuickTime Video for Web Distribution
By Richard Lainhart
Then I enabled and set a media key for the Sorenson track. Sorenson has
the ability to disable a video track from playing unless the viewer enters
in a password, or media key. The media key needs to be entered in the
QuickTime settings control panel on the user's machine, and does not get
attached to the movie file. In other words, students buying a lesson will
also get a media key they will have to enter before they can see the clip.
Simply copying the clip to another system doesn't copy the key, so it
has to be re-entered on the new system before the track can play. With
luck, this will help cut down on the inevitable piracy that Jordan will
be subject to. I chose "key!wiz" as the media key.
I then enabled Sorenson's Variable Bit Rate, or VBR, encoding. VBR is
a feature of the Sorenson Developer edition, which is a $500 upgrade to
the basic Sorenson codec included with all versions of QuickTime. VBR
dramatically improves the quality of the compressed video, and is well
worth the price if you're trying to get the best quality video. VBR encoding
takes twice as long as regular Sorenson encoding, however, which is worth
knowing because Sorenson is already a highly asymmetric codec - it takes
much longer to compress than to decompress. VBR takes twice as long because
the codec first does a complete analysis pass of your clip, marking the
areas in the footage where more motion or noise occurs for more compression
later on. The codec then varies the data rate from frame to frame to optimize
compression in the problem areas and reduce the image degradation caused
by the compression. The result is video that looks significantly better
than non-VBR encoding, at the expense of time - Jordan's 4-minute video
took over 14 hours to compress on the 400 MHz PowerBook, which is no slouch
in the rendering department.
And that was it. A clip that had been more than 900MB ended up at less
than 9MB, and it looks surprisingly good. If you'd like to see the results
for yourself, you can download Jordan's video here by command clicking
1link. Just remember that you have to enter the media key before you
can see the video track. To enter the media key, open your QuickTime Settings
control panel and choose Media Key from the popup menu. Click Add...,
and in the dialog box that opens, type "SorensonVideo" (no spaces, and
without the quotation marks) in the Category field. Then type "key!wiz"
(without the quotes) in the Key field. Click OK, and close QuickTime settings.
You should now be able to see the video. If not, make sure you typed in
the Category and Key text exactly as shown.
Lainhart ([email protected])
is a digital artisan who works with sonic and visual data. He's played
vibes in a swing band; performed in public some 2000 times; composed music
for film, television, CD-ROMs, and the Web; released recordings of his
own music on the Periodic Music, Vacant Lot, and XI Records labels; engineered
audio for recordings and live sound; written thirteen manuals for music
and video hardware and software; served as technical director at a music
software company; created 2D and 3D imagery and animation for print, broadcast,
CD-ROMs, and the Web; served as contributing editor with Interactivity
magazine; trained New York City-based digital media professionals in programs
like Electric Image, After Effects, Premiere, Commotion, and Final Cut
Pro; and contributed to books on digital media techniques published by
IDG and Peachpit Press. Currently, he is Digital Media Specialist with
Novaworks Computer Systems in New York City, an Adobe Certified Expert
in After Effects, an occasional demo artist for Adobe Systems, and co-host
of the official New York City After Effects User Group (http://www.otownmedia.com/nycaesig).
His animation "A Haiku Setting" was recently accepted for the ResFest
touring digital film festival. You can find it and samples of his music
and digital artworks at his website, http://www.otownmedia.com.
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