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Telestream Flip4Mac WMV Studio Pro

Windows Media production suite for Mac OS X By Dave Nagel
Summary: Telestream's Flip4Mac WMV Studio and WMV Studio Pro advance the cause of an all-Mac production workflow by bringing Windows Media encoding and decoding to Mac OS X. More than this, the components that make up these suites are truly professional tools, with high-quality encoding to Windows Media 9 formats (Standard and Advanced); support for resolutions up to HD; support for Windows Media Audio 9 Standard, Professional and Lossless; and superb integration with any QuickTime-based workflow.
Recommendation: Strong Buy
Users: Primarily designed for professional users who need to deliver content to clients in the Windows Media format, though, of course, it's also suitable for consumers and prosumers alike who simply want to work with or play with Windows Media files.
Platform: Mac OS X
Price: $179 for the Pro version (import and export, plus support for high-definition video and Advanced WMV encoding); $99 for the standard version (import and export); individual components are also available.
More information:

What if you could work with the Windows Media format on your Mac as easily as you can with the QuickTime format? What if you could open, edit and create Windows Media files in any QuickTime-based application without the need for conversion? Well, that's what Telestream's Flip4Mac WMV Studio is all about. Flip4Mac WMV Studio allows you to integrate Windows Media into your QuickTime workflow in such a seamless way that, after you get over your initial amazement, you'll begin to forget you're even working with a different format.

Like most Mac users, I've never thought much of Windows Media as a format. But my personal opinion doesn't matter all that much when it's the client demanding a finished product in the Windows Media 9 format or supplying me with WMV/WMA files, which I'm then supposed to work with to complete an assignment. In the past, this sort of situation meant converting the source material to QuickTime; working on the converted files to complete the project; then re-converting the final output to Windows Media for delivery to the client. And this meant working on a PC at some point during the production process--which may be fine for some, but it could prove a major pain for many Mac-based video and motion graphics professionals.

The Flip4Mac WMV Studio eliminates the painful part of this process by eliminating the need for any sort of conversion whatsoever in the production process. It simply integrates Windows Media into your workflow in such a way that you don't even notice it's there--which is about as high a compliment as I can pay to this sort of software. That's not to say that the software is perfect; but it does bring a new level of functionality to the Mac, and it does so in an elegant way.

Flip4Mac is available in four configurations, targeting everyone from consumers who simply want to be able to play Windows Media files via the QuickTime Player to pros who need to work with and generate high-quality Windows Media 9 content.

On the most basic level, there's the WMV Player, which is a QuickTime component that allows you to play Windows Media 7, 8 and 9 files in the QuickTime Player application. It sells for $9.99. The next step up is the WMV Player Pro, which also adds the ability to import and edit WMV files in QuickTime-capable applications. It sells for $49. WMV Studio adds in the Windows Media export component, so that you can open and edit Windows Media 7/8/9 files and encode Windows Media 9 at standard-def resolutions. It sells for $99. And then there's the WMV Studio Pro, which includes the Player Pro and the Pro/HD export component, with support for encoding Windows Media 9 at HD resolutions, as well as two-pass encoding, support for WIndows Media 9 Advanced, six-xhannel audio at up to 96 kHz and support for WMA 9 Professional and Lossless. It sells for $179. (For this review, I'm using WMV Studio Pro.)

So essentially there are two components to this suite: import/playback and encoding. I'll cover the import/playback capabilities in the next section. For now we'll take a look at the encoding capabilities of this software.

With Flip4Mac WMV Studio Pro installed, any application that supports QuickTime components can export to the Windows Media 9 format. How this works varies by application, but typically this functionality is accessed through an export command (such as in Adobe After Effects or Apple's QuickTime Player). When you select the Windows Media 9 option from the export options of your application, you can then customize the encode in a variety of ways. These include selecting between Windows Media 9 Standard and Advanced; one-or two-pass constant or variable bitrates; quality settings (0 to 100); preset or custom bitrates; size; frame rate; and frame type (interlaced or progressive).

For audio, you can choose between WMA 9 Standard, Professional or Lossless, with support for formats up to 96 kHz at 24 bits and up to six channels of audio. WMA 9 Standard supports stereo 44.1 kHz to 48 kHz and one- or two-pass CBR or VBR; WMA 9 Professional supports stereo and 5.1 audio from 44.1 kHz to 96 kHz at 16 or 24 bits, with one- or two-pass CBR or VBR; and WMA 9 Lossless supports 16- and 24-bit stereo and 5.1 audio at 44.1 kHz to 96 kHz. In all cases, quality in terms of audio is selected from a list of presets, rather than using a slider or direct numeric input.

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Related Keywords:wmv, macintosh, flip4mac, wma, convert, windows media, quicktime

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