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Sorenson Media's Squeeze 6 Compression Software

COW Library : Compression Techniques : Jerry Hofmann : Sorenson Media's Squeeze 6 Compression Software
Sorenson Media’s “Squeeze 6” Compression Software
A Creative COW Product Review


Jerry Hofmann:Sorenson Media’s “Squeeze 6” Compression software
Jerry Hofmann
Jerry Hofmann
JLH Productions
Denver, Colorado USA

©Copyright 2010 Jerry Hofmann and Creativecow.net. All Rights Reserved

Article Focus:
CreativeCOW's leader, Jerry Hofmann reviews Sorenson Media’s “Squeeze 6” Compression software and has determined that this is the best version yet.


The most dramatic upgrade for Squeeze in Sorenson Media’s history has happened. It’s Squeeze 6. Being a user and fan of the software, Squeeze 6 is the best version yet by far. The package really is more than just an encoder. It’s a complete solution.  It’s also a transcoder, a hosting network, and a review and approval system.

It’s a lot faster than Squeeze 5 (who wouldn’t like that?) and its new interface reminisces of Sorenson Media’s interface for 360, the company’s Video Delivery Network. (My review for Sorenson 360 network can be found here.) The clean and all new interface is a lot better than before, and users of current software will feel right at home with it. I did, that’s for sure. But if you’re new to Squeeze, you can get started extremely fast with very little effort. The included video tutorials will get you on your way with ease.

The world has gone digital no doubt, and the need for a fast, high quality encoding system for media professionals is tremendous. Squeeze 6 not only fills that need, but it also pushes your encoded media to Sorenson’s own 360 site, where notifications via email can be sent to your clients, and there’s even an approval or comments section for them to use. You and they are notified via email once the job is up there for review. No more waiting for a progress bar, you are notified when the job is done and uploaded to your Sorenson 360 site. You can even add filters to your encodes notably including timecode window burns which can be used during this approval process.

You can also publish automatically to Twitter, YouTube, as well as Akamai and Limelight.  But included in this new snazzy version of Squeeze, is a complimentary one-year account to the 360 network. This account includes 5GB of storage, up to 100 streams a month, and a maximum video length of 30 minutes. This alone cuts the price of upgrade for current users, and sets a new standard for new users. Free is good!

Upon opening Squeeze, you are presented with a welcome screen. Not your normal welcome screen either. It has 5 videos you can click through to get started quickly. Now that’s welcome indeed! Being constantly bombarded with new software upgrades, a set of video tutorials, which you can refer to any time, gets you up and running faster than anything I can think of. Don’t make me read, show me. I wish every piece of software included video tutorials.


Here’s the fresh new interface. Looks familiar to users of previous versions, but has a much more straightforward and clean look to it. It’s not as dark as earlier iterations of the software, and looks a lot more modern.  It’s easier to use than ever before.



 

The Encoding Workflow

 

It’s as easy as this:

1.   Drag a file from its location on your computer to Squeeze

2.   Drag a preset from the extensive list of options

3.   Set a publishing location if you’d like

4.   Click the Squeeze It! button

5.   Done.

 

That’s it folks. The H.264 and VP6 encoding is up to 3 times faster than Squeeze 5. Time is money in this business, and watching the progress bars go by just got shorter.

Since many of us own Compressor, I thought it would be a good idea to compare compressions with Squeeze 6.

Using the preset for an Apple TV encode, I matched the settings used in Compressor as close as I could. Sorenson used the Main Concept H.264 codec, and I used the Apple Codec in Compressor.

Here are the same frames side by side:

Compressor:

 



 

And here’s the same frame from a Squeeze compression:



Take a close look at the printing on the forms. It’s much easier to read it in the Squeeze result. The Squeeze file’s color was richer than Compressor’s and closer to the original HD (In this case a DVCPROHD native file).

I wanted to test a really difficult shot in a side by side comparison, and the results speak for themselves. The original footage here was DVCPROHD 1080i60. I compressed at the same size and data rate in Compressor and in Squeeze 6.

Compressor’s H.264 compressed frame at 768kbps:


 

Sorenson’s Compressed frame at 768kbps:


 

There’s really no comparison. The source footage was about 1 minute long, the frame rates, data rates, and frame sizes were identical, and both encodes were multipass. Sorenson stresses the quality of their encoded files, and there’s no question that the Sorenson file looked a ton better. Look at the trees, the detail in the mountains behind the lake. Wow… Sorenson’s encoding just bests Compressor’s encoding. I’m sure I could get the same quality from Compressor, but the data rate would have to be higher resulting in a larger file to download or stream. So in the long run, you’ll save money in bandwidth charges using Sorenson Squeeze.

Another slick new feature that Sorenson Media has added to the mix here is the “Preset Exchange”. From within the Squeeze 6 interface, you can save yourself from asking or searching the Internet for advice on compression settings. The command “Get more Presets” found appropriately in the Preset menu opens your Internet Browser and takes you to Sorenson’s new Preset Exchange. There, you’ll find presets that have worked well for all manner of encodes! This free site, which comes with Squeeze 6, will allow you access to many presets you simply download directly to the folder of your choice from within Squeeze! Now that is innovation. We share with each other all the time for sure here at the COW, but it sure is wonderful to just go to a site and peruse a lot of presets made by pros all running Squeeze! How cool is that?

 


 

In conclusion, I’ve been running Squeeze for a very long time, and gone through all of it’s updates through the years. But this upgrade stands apart. A new interface, a new upload and approval site, a preset exchange, more filters, Blu-Ray encoding, and very high quality (and much faster) encoding makes this the most important update to Squeeze ever.

I can heartily recommend this professional level encoding software to anyone running on a Mac or a PC. There are versions for both. It’s innovative, forward-thinking, and making the mysterious world of encoding a lot less esoteric. 

Run, don’t walk to http://www.sorensonmedia.com for more information. A winning piece of software any way you look at it.

It’s easy to give this product a 5 cow rating.

-- Jerry Hofmann

Comments

In response to addendum...
by Jerry Hofmann
Sorenson Squeeze provides industry-winning H.264 encoding, as well as support for many other codecs, one of which is Sorenson Spark. Spark is there if you need it.

Does that answer your question?

Jerry
addendum
by David Hunter
After asking my question about the distribution of the Sorenson Spark codec I came across a press release from the Sorenson blog and lifted these two paragraphs that seem to state a paradox--

With the Sorenson Spark decoder, Samsung will be able to give mobile consumers access to the widest and deepest base of online video content, including hundreds of millions of videos inaccessible through any other codec.
Sorenson Spark is the industry’s most ubiquitous video codec and was the first codec used in Macromedia Flash, now Adobe Flash. Sorenson Spark enables mobile devices and other consumer products to playback the largest selection of videos on the Internet, including those on YouTube, the single largest online video destination site today.


First of all...this press release admits that "hundreds of millions of videos" cannot be played if they are encoded with Sorenson Spark.

But this press release does not acknowledge that Sorenson Spark was dropped by Youtube and that H.264 is their preferred codec now. If you upload a video it will be encoded to H.264 not H.263.

So how does this work for on-line?
by David Hunter
I have used an encoder with Sorenson Squeeze and as far as I can tell it looks superior to the same settings in my Compressor 3.5.1.

But for posting videos, say, .flv files, HD 720, HD 1080 non-interlaced progressive, don't you run into a problem if the end-user's Media Player does not process the Sorenson encoding? Aren't most Flash Media Players that are installed on both Windows and Mac end-user players for online video players much more likely to support H.264?

Doesn't less penetration of the Sorenson codec on user's computers mean all this quality is unplayable when accessed online?
re: Deinterlacing?
by Jerry Hofmann
Sorry didn't check it out, but will do it, and post back. I need to edit a pile of stuff for the web right now in fact, and when I'm done. I'll give it a try... I've been pretty happy with everything I've used Squeeze 6 for though, and the integration with their 360 VDN for a year included with the product makes it a very sweet deal IMHO.

Jerry
Yeah, there's two of these guys alright...
by Jerry Hofmann
Squeeze 6 has the flash and more.
Squeeze for flash is mainly for making flash movies. There's two codecs available with it for flash. Squeeze 6 has these and more... If you go to http://www.sorensonmedia.com/video-encoding/ you'll see the comparison chart on that page between the two versions.

Jerry
Deinterlacing?
by Jeff Coleman
What's the de-interlacer like in Squeeze 6? Previous versions were virtually unusable and the handles on it opaque (Jan Ozer reco de-interlacing outside of Squeeze).
Two versions?
by Bob Cole
not clear from their website: two versions, squeeze6 and squeeze6 for flash. Does squeeze6 have flash included or do you need both, if you need to render to flash and non-flash formats?
re: Two versions
by Brian Crowdson
Bob-Squeeze 6 includes flash. Here's a format comparison chart from their website:
http://www.sorensonmedia.com/video-encoding/


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