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Apple Compressor 3.5

Apple has done a lot of work underneath the hood to help bring a more powerful encoder for us, the Final Cut Pro editors By Heath McKnight

With the long-anticipated update to Final Cut Studio, Apple has introduced an upgrade to Compressor. Not a full new version, but still a significant update, nonetheless. However, you need to consider that while Compressor is a stand-alone application, it's now a major part of Final Cut Pro 7, and that is where its strengths lie.

Stand-Alone App
With Compressor 3.5, Apple has done a lot of work underneath the hood to help bring a more powerful encoder for us, the Final Cut Studio editors. The interface is better laid out and gives a much more streamlined workflow, there are more and better encoding options such as the capability to create DVDs/Blu-ray discs, (without using DVD Studio Pro; you can't author or burn Blu-ray Discs in DVDSP), encode and upload to YouTube or MobileMe.

You can also use Compressor 3.5 to re-size and re-frame your video, add audio filters, create batch templates, create Droplets to easily access standard and customized settings (which can also be used in the Share option in FCP 7 and can be sent to other FCP editors to use), job chaining, standards conversions (NTSC to PAL and vice versa), reverse telecine (29.97 frames per second to 23.98 fps), up res standard definition video to high definition, and distribute across a network or Intel processor cores via a Cluster or QuickCluster. These are a few of the various types of jobs that you can do in Compressor 3.5.

Compressor 3.5.

But where I think Compressor 3.5 really shines is how it now works with FCP 7 via the "Share" option.

Integration With Final Cut Pro 7
In the past, to export via Compressor, you could either export a QuickTime Movie, which would open the app up and tie up both Compressor and FCP. Instead, you go to File, Export, Share and select what you want to do. For my example, I used the option of burning my film 9:04 AM ( to Blu-ray Disc (BD) via the Share option. And everything you can do in Compressor 3.5 you can do via Share, which I detail below.

Using the Share option

The first great news is that you can finally create and burn a BD, just not with as many advanced features and not in DVD Studio Pro (yet). All I did was create a basic menu and set the movie to encode and told the Share window to burn the BD via the Other World Computer Mercury Pro BD/DVD/CD burner (OWC Mercury Pro FW800/400+USB2+eSata BluRay/DVD DL/CD Burner: up to 8X Blu-Ray, 16X DVD Burn Speeds). If I had the bonus features done, along with markers (which become chapter markers), I would've been able to create a more well-rounded BD.

Unfortunately, you can't add a commentary track and other advanced features. Maybe we'll see enough of an update here or in DVD Studio Pro to really get some powerful BD authoring tools. For now, Adobe's Encore CS4 is the best software to create well-rounded BDs.

Now, I also set the Share window to encode for an iPod and the web to upload to YouTube (or MobileMe), and you enter in your username and password, details, tags, the category, and whether to make it private or not. All of this can be done in the background, so you can keep working in FCP 7 without any problems. And if you happen to be working on the current project, the Share function will actually update it! There's also the option to send that to Compressor so you can monitor it there, too.

Encoding Options
You can pretty much encode to just about all the major codecs out there, some of which Apple helped develop. These include QuickTime (and all its variants, such asDVCPRO HD, ProRes 422, etc.), MPEG-2 (and all its variants), H.264, Apple devices (iPhone, Apple TV, and iPod), Photo JPEG, and more. There's also plug-in support for Telestream Episode Pro so you can output to file formats such as WMV, Flash, and VC-1. Every Final Cut Pro editor needs this plug-in.

Compressor 3.5 settings.

You can also encode to Audio, and there are all sorts of options here, including AAC, AIFF, 5.1 Surround Sound, etc. Other options include image sequences, metadata annotations, closed captioning and data.

I really love Compressor 3.5 and it seems that I'm working within FCP more than ever via the Share function. I used to try and avoid using Compressor in the past, opting for exporting via QuickTime Movie or QuickTime Conversion (see this article:, but I am using Compressor more than ever. And being able to do many of these things in the background via the Share option in FCP 7 is fantastic! Now I'm getting used to doing things with that Share option. Compressor 3.5 is a part of the third version of Final Cut Studio; find out more at and

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Heath McKnight is a filmmaker and author who has produced and directed several independent feature and short films, including Hellevator, 9:04 AM and December. He is currently web content manager for doddleNEWS. Heath was also a contributor to VASST's best-selling book, "The FullHD," and has written for TopTenREVIEWS and Videomaker.

Related Keywords:compression, codec, file conversion, file format, video compression


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