Product Review: Page (1) of 3 - 09/09/04 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

Squeeze It (Again)

Sorenson compression redux By Stephen Schleicher

Just over a year ago, Sorenson released Squeeze 3 for the Mac and PC.  Now with the release of 4.0, what changes have been made, how are the compression schemes that have been added, and is the upgrade worth it?

When Sorenson introduced their compression software, I instantly fell in love, and since have been using Sorenson Squeeze on a near daily basis.  In fact, all of the QuickTime movies I embed in these articles are the result of Squeeze.  With the high use of the product, you can imagine my excitement when I was asked to look at Sorenson Squeeze 4.

A New Interface
From the very beginning previous users will instantly see a whole new look to the Squeeze interface.

Click for larger image of Squeeze 4 interface.

Was the interface design needed?  From a practical standpoint, Sorenson Squeeze 3 had its problems.  One of the more confusing aspects was in figuring out what the little symbols meant.  Sure FLV, MOV and DVD were easy to understand, but what about the other icons?  If you hovered your cursor over the icon a pop up would give the details, but who wants to spend the extra time figuring out the interface?

With Squeeze 4, Sorenson the interface is much more natural and easy to navigate.  You begin by dragging and dropping or selecting the file you wish to compress, and then, by running down the left side of the application, you apply filters and compression schemes in the correct order.  Everything is, for the most part, right there in the main menu for you to access.  You can quickly scan through the compression presets, apply it to your media, and then squeeze the file.  Even if Sorenson Squeeze 4 is your first introduction to compressing footage, the layout of the options makes the compression process almost dummy-proof.

The key to making Sorenson Squeeze 4 dummy-proof lies in the huge number of compression presets that are included.  On both the Mac and PC versions of Squeeze 4 you have the ability to encode MPEG 4, Macromedia Flash (video - .swf, and movie - .flv), QuickTime, MPEG 1 & 2 (for VCD and SVCD creation), MP3, and Real.  Real encoding in the previous version of Squeeze was only available on the PC.  Since many content creators are on the Mac but need to deliver in Real, it only makes sense that Sorenson include this format on both platforms.  There is still a slight difference between the two platforms - namely with Windows Media encoding.  The PC version is the only one that can/will encode in this format.

One of the great new features of Sorenson Squeeze 4 is the addition of HD presets for QuickTime, Windows Media, Real, and MPEG 2 and 4 formats.  With an increase of HD delivery in these formats over the next couple of years, Sorenson will not have to play catch up when HD encoding becomes the norm.

Another new feature for Squeeze 4 is Multi Bit Rate Encoding for QuickTime and Real formats.  If you are streaming any media on your website, you are probably already frustrated that when you need to encode multiple versions of your media for the different connect speeds of your users.  With MBR encoding, you set up your various bit rates for your users and encode a single file.

Click for larger image.

In order to assist in cleaning your video and enhancing it for various formats, Sorenson has included several filter presets.

You add the filters the same way you do an encode preset. If you need to make adjustments open the Filter Dialog window.  This window floats in front of the main interface and you can make adjustments and see the results in real time in the Preview window.

Click for larger image.

Speaking of previews, Squeeze 4 has a new way of previewing your settings.  Instead of adjusting the In and Out points, you now move the Play head to a point in the file and then select a duration (1, 2, 3 sec., etc.).  Squeeze then generates a temporary preview that launches in the appropriate player.  This is certainly a huge improvement over other encoding applications that only allow you to view a still image of the changes.


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Related Keywords:Sorenson, squeeze 4, compression, encoding, web, streaming, schleicher, HD

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