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Jerry Hofmann reviews: The Sorenson Squeeze 4 Compression Suite

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Jerry Hofmann reviews: The Sorenson Squeeze 4 Compression Suite

A Creative COW Product Review

Jerry Hofmann reviews The Sorenson Squeeze 4 Compression Suite


Jerry Hofmann
©Copyright 2004 Jerry Hofmann and Creativecow.net. All Rights Reserved


Article Focus:
In this article, Jerry Hofmann reviews the Sorenson Squeeze 4 Compression Suite. While his report focuses on the Mac version, many of the things he covers will be of interest to those who will find a Windows version of Sorenson's Squeeze 4 available. Jerry says: "If you've read my reviews before about Sorenson's efforts in the Mac World, you'll know I've long been a fan of the company's products. The ALL NEW version of Sorenson Compression suite 4 is shipping now, and is by far the company's best effort to date, and I've been running the Squeeze 3 version, and have always found it easy to use -- but this new version really takes the cake. Sporting a much beefier yet easy to use interface, Sorenson's new release adds new support for HD, including Apple's own recent codec, H.264. This is just the beginning however."

The innovation in this new suite doesn't stop with just a pretty face and a couple of new tricks, it adds all new support for Real Media, MP3 compression, and MPEG 1 and 2 Support to boot! (If you buy the PC version, you get WMF support as well). Add all this to the already professional quality video compression formats that Sorenson is famous for, and you've got a truly powerful and easy to use new tool for all of these formats with top of the line professional compression codecs throughout:

Video Encoders:

  • QuickTime compatible codecs
  • MPEG-1
  • MPEG-2
  • RealVideo 8, 9 and 10
  • Sorenson AVCTM Pro (forMPEG-4AVCencoding)
  • Sorenson MPEG-4TM Pro (for Visual Simple Profile and Visual Advanced Simple Profile encoding)
  • Sorenson SparkTM Pro (for Flash MX and Flash MX Professional encoding)
  • Sorenson Video ®3.1 Pro (for QuickTime encoding)

Audio Encoders:

  • ACELP RealAudio
  • ADPCM
  • QuickTime compatible codecs
  • Cook RealAudio ®
  • Fraunhofer AAC
  • Fraunhofer MP3
  • Qdesign Music Codec2
  • QualComm PureVoiceTM
  • Uncompressed Audio
  • MPEG Layer 1
  • MPEG Layer 2
  • MPEG PCM


Gobs of presets abound with each of these codecs, and makes compression on a very high-end level easy and quick to get going.

Let's take a look at the interface. I'm sure you'll quickly see just how easy this incredibly powerful (and fast I might add) this software is...

pic1

The Interface is simple and straightforward indeed. You see on the left the three ways you can import files, then beneath this area are the set of formats to compress to, and by opening the triangle next to the format you'll see the gobs of presets all ready for you to select or modify. You can add as many different presets to any single or set of multiple clips as you'd like as well. Each clip can have the same or different settings applied to it for compression in a batch.

The “Details” window in the lower left sort of prompts you through the process giving you information about what each of the objects are within the interface. The window containing the display dominates the upper area of the interface, and it can be removed to become an independent window if you'd like, giving you more space for the window beneath, which contains the source media references, and their respective formats you wish to compress with.

It's really as easy as this:

  1. Open an uncompressed video file

    pic2

    Just click on Import file…


  2. Select an output format

    pic3

    The disclosure triangles will open the set of intelligent presets…


  3. Select an intelligent present or modify one to your liking

    pic4

    Note the many professional set of parameters you can modify and change. They start with the default preset, but are as easy as pie to change, and save for use later too.


  4. Press “SQUEEZE IT!”.

    pic5


Compressing media files gets easier and easier with each and every release of Sorenson's Compression Suite for the Mac. And this new one is likely to give Discreet's Cleaner 6 a run for its money. In my tests between the two products, the Sorenson software simply blew away the quality/file size wars between the two programs. Hands down, the Sorenson QuickTime movies were not only better looking files, they were smaller to boot! Make no mistake, this is state of the art software taking a back seat to nobody.

With the PC version of the new Suite, you gain the ability to create Windows Media Files. I asked Sorenson if they are considering adding this function to the Mac version, and they are seriously looking at the possibility. (Trust me, it's easier said than done). But with that said, the addition of RealStreams to the arsenal of available formats you can compress to, minimizes this shortcoming tremendously I'd think.

With this exception, there's very little you cannot do with the Mac Version however. The Real Stream creation is a huge jump forward in making files compatible with PC's from Macs though. Most every PC out there has a Real Media Player if they don't have QuickTime installed.

Take a look at the LONG list of input and output formats the new software supports, it's truly a long list, and supports my assertion that you may only need this software for all of your encoding needs:

Here are the formats it imports:

  • AAC
  • AIFF
  • AVI
  • DV
  • MOV
  • MP3
  • MPEG-1
  • MPEG-4
  • WAV


Here are the formats it exports:

  • AAC
  • AIFF
  • AVI
  • DV
  • MOV
  • MP3 (not found in Cleaner 6)
  • MPEG-1
  • MPEG-4


WAV Output Formats:

  • AAC
  • AIFF
  • DV
  • DVD
  • FLV 1.1
  • HD for MP1, MP2, MP4 and RealMedia
  • MOV
  • MP3
  • MPG (MP1 and MP2)
  • MP4
  • MP4 AVC (H.264)
  • SVCD
  • SWF
  • VCD
  • WAV


The Features go on and on too:

  • High Definition (HD) encoding options available for AVC/H.264, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, QuickTime, and RealMedia
  • Support for AVC encoding (H.264)
  • Batch processing at job, source, and output levels
  • Detachable and resizable preview window
  • Video zoom tool for pixel-perfect cropping
  • In/out preview markers
  • Multi-Bit-Rate file creation for RealMedia
  • Ability to save audio and video filter settings
  • Ability to save a project
  • Filter preview slider
  • Modeless filter dialog
  • Filters
  • Audio normalization
  • Contrast/brightness
  • Deinterlacing
  • Fade in/out
  • Telecine removal
  • Video noise reduction
  • White/black restore with smoothness slider
  • In/out trim points
  • Multiple Watch Folders with multiple output options
  • Improved intelligent presets
  • Optimized presets for streaming, progressive download, and local delivery (with various data rates for each preset)
  • Duplicate source button
  • Customizable interface layout
  • Integrated links for Flash (SWF) output
  • Playback action controls for Flash (SWF) output
  • Player templates for Flash (SWF) output
  • Stitching for large Flash (SWF) files
  • Standard NLE shortcut keys
  • Ability to constrain output file sizes
  • Audio import
  • DV capture
  • One-Pass and Two-Pass VBR compression
  • Tools for MPEG-4 (Visual Simple Profile and Visual Advanced Simple Profile) Input Formats


Don't forget too, that any QuickTime compliant application like Final Cut Pro, will also contain Sorenson's Pro QuickTime encoder once you've installed the new suite too, so you can simply export using the pro QT codec directly from Final Cut Pro for example. The Pro QT encoder becomes a system wide plugin.

Futhermore, if you are running Final Cut Pro, you can export non self contained QuickTime movies (reference movies) and they work just great in Squeeze.

I could only find one strange sort of anomaly with this 4.0 release of software working with my dual G5. All QT movies must have the .mov extension at the end of their names in order for Squeeze to import them. Not a real problem, but will be addressed in an update according to Sorenson. If you choose to Compress your MPEG-2 files with Squeeze and intend to use them with DVD Studio Pro, you'll need to open the preset and change the Stream Type to “Elementary” and keep the audio codec at MPEG Layer 2 Audio. Two files will be created, an mpv file and an mpa file. Both will import into DVD Studio Pro 3.

So why would one need this software if say, they already own Final Cut Pro and Compressor? I'd answer it's the quality plain and simple. If you are only after better QuickTime compressions, you can buy the Pro version of the encoder from Sorenson, but with the additional encoders you gain with the Suite, I'd say it's worth the extra to obtain them. They are ALL professional quality encoders, and before ya know it, I'll wager you'll have a use for them.

In Conclusion

I cannot recommend Sorenson Squeeze 4 Compression Suite highly enough. It's easy, it's efficient (meaning it encodes extremely fast) and extremely powerful. Gone are the days where compressionists are the only folk who can create extremely high quality compressed video and audio files. We all can! Great software deserves a rave, and this one has me raving! Bravo Sorenson! You've simply made encoding quality video and audio within reach of everyone, and at a price which is more than competitive. You can upgrade from an earlier version of Squeeze for $159, and a new license sells for only $449. (Notably this is about $100 LESS than discreet asks for Cleaner 6 or for their PC version Cleaner XL). Sorenson's Squeeze 4.0 is available for Windows machines as well as the Mac versions at the same price.

You want the best software-encoding suite? Look no further than Sorenson's Squeeze. It's a five COW winner!

5 cows.


©Copyright 2003 / 2004 Jerry Hofmann | Creative Cow
All Rights Reserved


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