Jerry Hofmann takes a look at Squeeze 7
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Sorenson Media has released yet another new and improved version of its venerable app, Squeeze. And once again, they've hit the ball out of the park with the release of Squeeze 7, keeping with the fresh new interface introduced with Squeeze 6. For more information, read my review of Squeeze 6 here: http://library.creativecow.net/articles/hofmann_jerry/squeeze_6_rev.php. If you're not familiar with Squeeze, take a ride on the Reading Railroad to this article which takes a very close look at the general interface, but here are the highlights.
Welcome to Squeeze 7
A welcome screen includes information and links to videos that will get you started in no time at all, as well as the User Guide, GPU Guide, the Preset Exchange (where users share their best settings for free), Sorenson Media's blog, and Customer Support.
Squeeze 7 offers a clean and intuitive interface.
When you start Squeeze you're presented with a very intuitive and clean interface. It's so well organized; you can start encoding right away without even cracking a manual. Drag the preset, drag a filter if you'd like, add a destination, and click on the Squeeze It button! It's that easy. It's always been that easy with Sorenson too.
Sorenson Media has expanded the list of new features to include GPU acceleration (faster H.264 encoding with supported graphics cards) adaptive bitrate encoding - heretofore a very time consuming and intricate process to accomplish, and more.
Sorenson Media has always delivered value and performance, and this new version sets the bar even higher. Squeeze 7 now includes Flash, Apple ProRes, and MPEG Transport Streams to its existing input formats. New output formats include WebM, MPEG Transport Streams with H.264 and Dolby AC3 for broadcasters, MPEG-2 elementary streams for Blu-ray authoring with H.264 and VC-1, DVB for cable/satellite/terrestrial television, and some digital signage-specific formats. Squeeze 7 supports audio-only output formats such as Dolby's AC3, AAC, AIFF, M4A, MP3, Ogg, WAV, and WMA.
In addition to the Avid and FCP plugins, Squeeze 7 adds a new plug-in for Adobe Premiere Pro (compatible with Creative Suite versions 4 and 5). Squeeze 7 retains the feature of working with the Sorenson 360 Video Delivery Network.
The two most important new features from my point of view are the Adaptive adaptive bitrate encoding and the accelerated H.264 encoding available if you have a supported graphics card (more about that below).
Adaptive Bitrate Encoding!Adaptive bitrate encoding creates a type of file set that adjusts playback encoding to match network and device speeds automatically). It used to take a lot of patience and expertise to create, not to mention multiple applications. No more! Squeeze 7 creates an adaptive bitrate file with ease. Streams created this way will always play smoothly no matter what the Internet traffic is doing, and no matter what the user's download speeds are, and the viewer is oblivious to any change in playback - it just works. Makes sense for longer web streams for sure. This workflow is targeted to playback on iOS devices: iPads and iPhones. This feature alone may make the upgrade a no brainer for many users.
Here's what the preset looks like:
GPU Acceleration!If you have a supported graphics card you gain this feature. Squeeze is optimized for Nvidia's CUDA computing architecture. This means if you have a card with the CUDA spec, you'll encode H.264 files up to 3 times faster on a Quad-Core 2.83 Mac with an Nvidia Quadro 5000 GPU than Squeeze 6, which is relying only on your computer's CPU alone. Cool eh?
When Squeeze 7 encoding for H.264 begins, Squeeze analyzes your computer's speed and checks for the CUDA accelerated card. If it determines the card will be faster, it relies on it to do the encode all automatically.
So which cards tap into this powerful feature? I asked the good folks at Sorenson Media what they recommend and here's a current list:
"On the Mac Pro, I recommend the Quadro 4000.
Lesser cards with CUDA support will work, but the list above are the "heavy hitters" I'm told. You may already have a supported card if it's a fairly recent computer purchase.
Here's a link to further discussion on this topic: http://forum.sorensonmedia.com/forum/content.php?264-Mainconcept-H.264-AVC-CUDA/
Value and PricingEvery feature of Squeeze 7 is included of course, including a full year of Sorenson 360 which I reviewed here: http://library.creativecow.net/articles/hofmann_jerry/sorenson360.php
Those two new features alone make the upgrade more than worth the price I think, and with the added support of Adobe NLE software, as well as a slew of new format support, Squeeze 7 hits a home run. As always, Sorenson is a value. It really can compete with much higher end solutions, and you'd have to spend in excess of about $15,000 to get more. An upgrade to Squeeze 7 starts at $199, depending on the version of Squeeze you're upgrading from, and new license of Squeeze 7 is only $799. In my book, this low pricing represents true value.
You can try it out for yourself for free! I love it when companies aren't afraid to let you try before you buy and you can download a version of Squeeze from Sorenson's site right now! Here's the link: https://www.sorensonmedia.com/try/squeeze Hitting it out of the ballpark has been Sorenson Media's way of doing business, and this version of Squeeze is no different. If you want to step up your encoding capabilities from the software that came with your NLE, Sorenson's Squeeze 7 should be at the top of your list. If you're already a Squeeze user, the upgrade is a no brainer especially if you have a CUDA supported graphics card. If you don't, and you do a lot of encoding, you might even consider a graphics card upgrade just to get this speedy (I do mean speedy) encoding as part of your toolbox.
All in all, this is a 5 COW rated piece of software from a company that never disappoints, gives tremendously good service when you're in trouble, and is no doubt, a 5 COW company!
-- Jerry Hofmann