Jerry Hofmann Looks at Sorenson Media Squeeze 9
COW Library : : Jerry Hofmann : Jerry Hofmann Looks at Sorenson Media Squeeze 9
With each passing year, the use of compressed video for digital delivery via the Internet simply grows and grows. I still deliver an optical disk now and then, but it's more a backup strategy than a process of duplicating optical disks. File delivery has become the standard for more and more people every day. With the move to mobile happening in our society from the desktop, this will only accelerate.
On the horizon is a widespread use of larger formats, so there still might be a future for Blu-ray discs... Think Ultra HD. It's already "popularly priced" at its intro.
To to cut to the chase, we're going to be compressing and encoding video one way or another for the foreseeable future, and Sorenson Squeeze 9 is is a no-brainer. It's a major upgrade that's faster, prettier, and fully loaded.
Sorenson Media has been industry fixture in the encoding business for a number of years now. I've been covering the efforts of the company for quite some time, and one thing that has been constant is their devotion to picture quality. Squeeze 9 is no exception. Is it a worthy successor to your current compression software? I ran speed tests and took it all out for a ride, and found it not only faster than Squeeze 8.5 (which is more than twice the speed than Squeeze 8) but even easier to use. There is a dandy video on all of the new features here: http://sorensonmedia.com/new-in-squeeze-9
The new, snappier-looking interface retains the familiar workflow associated with Squeeze -- and you'll likely be able to sit right down and use the software immediately if you're new to Squeeze because it's simply that ergonomically designed.
Each time I've reviewed this software I've come away with the firm belief that the product is an improvement over the previous release. And this one is a major upgrade.
SEARCH TOOLS IMPROVEMENT
There are so many presets available that you'll simply never run out! Virtually every video and audio format known to digital media can be converted to and from in Squeeze 9. Flash, WMV, MPEG? That's just the beginning. I've been wondering when the number of formants would finally level off, but that's a pipe dream. With this facing us, having a search box at the head of each of the major panes in the interface is really welcome. Using it is so much easier than digging down through the hierarchy of the folders which organize the interface. Bravo guys! It's a lot more intuitive to go to a compression preset search box, type DVD and have all of the possible optical disk formats come up. Nice.
NEW HTML5 OPTIMIZATION
Having an industry first optimization for HTML5 is welcome news. You just drag and drop a single HTML5 preset onto a source file, and Squeeze then automatically creates two output renditions of the file -- one in MP4, the other in WebM -- together with an elegant coding of the video onto an HTML5 web page, using the <video> tag. The two renditions enable seamless native video playback in all major browsers, including Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Add that to the adaptive bit rate presets, and you have the very latest in delivery web streams there is.
I decided to give my trusty old i7 laptop a workout with it. Certainly not the fastest Mac out there, but no real slouch either. It's a 2.2 ghz 17" MacBook Pro circa 2011. Pretty run of the mill machine I'd think.
So the speed tests here are on a laptop, not a new 12 core powerhouse. Still the point of the exercise should be to see the percentages the speed changes as part of our evaluation, if any. (I'm betting there is!)
I created a ProRes 4:2:2 file that lasted 1.5 minutes for the test. The video included people, as well as some graphic backgrounds sure to make a clean compression tough to do.
The results surprised me. Using the same machine I used last year with the Squeeze 8.5 review, I found the compression times to be about 25% faster than Squeeze 8.5, but that translates to nearly two and a half times faster than Squeeze 8 or earlier. See the review of Squeeze 8.5 here: http://library.creativecow.net/hofmann_jerry/Squeeze-8-5-review/1 Upgrading from Squeeze 8 or earlier to 9 should be an absolute no brainer on this count alone. You get faster speed, and you get the resulting quality file that Sorenson has been famous for for over a decade.
Sorenson Media describes it this way: "Divide & Conquer" encoding for MP4 and MOV provides a massive boost to single-file encoding, providing the greatest speed of any full Squeeze release. Squeeze 9 is optimized for MP4, QuickTime (MOV), WebM and Matroska (MKV). It features a sophisticated parallel processing system that breaks decoded video files into content chunks and partitions them across multiple CPUs, to achieve processing speeds that are on average twice as fast as Squeeze 8. Adaptive bitrate encoding (HLS, Flash Dynamic, Smooth Streaming and MPEG-DASH) employs the same parallel approach, with similar performance enhancement.
Here are the actual times posted with a 1.5 minute 1920X1080 ProRes Source file, I used the exact same presets in each version.
SORENSON 360 IS STILL INCLUDED FREE!
Any more, I'm working remotely from my clients, and have found using Sorenson's 360 platform for a review and approval process has been stellar. Sorenson's 360 servers always serve! And this fab service still comes free with the purchase of Squeeze 9. I've never liked the TOU of the free sites to stream video for free. You should read them. Don't like their logo's over my video either. Do you? Free sites also get overloaded during peak hours, making for poorer performance, and making it all too easy for a user to find another site or video to watch.
I've not found that behavior with Sorenson 360 at all. I read an article not long ago about the behavior of people watching streaming video. If it has to re-buffer, a huge majority of the users simply click away from the file, so I think this is super important to any professional.
The streamlined workflow is pretty unique to Squeeze. You simply upload your compressed file to Sorenson 360 with a destination preset, and you include an email address to send a notification to (or a cell number even) and that person is notified that the file is up for review. A link to it is provided in the email. It's a snap for them to approve or give notes in Sorenson 360. You then are notified your client has approved or asked for changes. If approved, you simply copy the hyperlink to the file, and publish to any web site. How easy can it get? Super easy.
Another major workflow improvement in Squeeze 9 is video stitching. This new version enables users for the first time to add pre- or post-roll video to any primary video. This enables more efficient workflows, especially with regard to appending ads of all types to source material passing through the encode phase of production. There's a time saver for a lot of folks!
OTHER IMPROVEMENTS IN SQUEEZE 9 INCLUDE:
Highest Quality - Enhanced quality through integration with the newly optimized MainConcept SDK 9.6 codec, which provides improved encoding quality with H.264 and AVCHD 2.0.
Closed Captioning - Support for the EIA-608 or EIA-708 (Electronic Industries Alliance) closed captioning in source video, and corresponding TTML (timed text markup language) output, SubRip output and WebVTT output with compressed Squeeze files, for standard and high-definition digital video content.
Streamlined Integration with Squeeze Server 2.0 - Integration into recently launched Squeeze Server 2.0, Sorenson Media's award-winning enterprise transcoding solution, to enable offloading of high-volume jobs and to free up work stations.
"We have refined the application from top to bottom to create the easiest-to-use, most feature-rich, fastest and highest-quality version of Squeeze ever developed for video professionals everywhere, from independent enthusiasts to enterprise developers," said Peter Csathy, CEO of Sorenson Media. "We made the best-reviewed, most cost-effective encoding and transcoding solution in the market even better by maZZking it easier than ever before to publish video online."
I couldn't agree more with Peter. If you're not using Sorenson Media's software and wonderful VDN in Sorenson 360, it's time you downloaded the software and give it a try. http://www.sorensonmedia.com/try/squeeze/ You'll gain quality that you simply can't get another way, and speed to boot! Piece of cake!
Squeeze 9 easily deserves the coveted 5 COW Rating.
Rating: 5 out of 5 COWs
PRICING AND AVAILABILITY
Sorenson Squeeze 9 is now available at a price of $799 in the Standard edition, $999 for Squeeze Pro, and at various upgrade prices for past versions of Sorenson Squeeze at http://www.sorensonmedia.com/squeeze-upgrades/. All Squeeze 9 customers receive full, free use of all Sorenson 360 unique features for Review and Approval. Additional storage capacity and other enhancements are available as upgrades. For more information, contact a member of the sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org.