Sorenson Squeeze 7 Review
- Category: Production
- Published: Monday, 25 April 2011 04:13
Sorenson Media’s Squeeze 7 is a professional compression suite with robust support for the most widely used codecs for broadcast, web and mobile platforms as well as physical media. Squeeze 7 has an elegant design with a simple workflow that produces excellent results.
Squeeze 7 includes a plethora of handy presets, batch processing and FTP capability. This makes it easy to load multiple jobs with multiple encodes to multiple FTP sites. This means you can render your master video in the wee hours, run a batch of encodes and deliver the various files to your client(s) first thing the next morning while you lay in bed recovering from your all night editing session. New output formats can be added on the fly to a job in progress as well.
One improvement Sorenson could make here would be the ability to color code the jobs and all assets and outputs related to a specific job. It can get a little squirrely looking at endless shades of white and grey. The background of the video in the main preview window can be customized so why not something more practical like the multiple jobs I’m trying to keep in order? It’s no different than keeping track of multiple tracks of audio and video in a typical non linear editor.
Squeeze 7 takes advantage of CUDA cores in NVIDIA video cards. The software reported 128 CUDA cores in our card available to accelerate the Mainconcept H.264 codec. A message pops up warning that the quality may not be the same when using CUDA cores so trial and error is required to make sure it meets your requirements. In general, we were happy with the output with and without using the GPU. Although, this message does not give us a lot of confidence in using CUDA to accelerate our encodes.
Squeeze 7 has crazy file format support.
INPUT: 3g2, 3gp, AAC, AC3, AIFF, ASF, AVCHD, AVC-Intra, AVI, DV, FLV, M4A, M4V, MOV, MP3, MP4, MPEG, MPG, MXF, PCM, WAV, WMA, WMV
OUTPUT: AAC, AC3, AIFF, AVI, DV, DVD, FLV, M4A, MOV, MP3, MP4 (H.264), MPG, SWF, VC1, WAV, WMV and more.
The ability to work with FLVs came in very handy because we needed to turn around a project very quickly for a client that could only provide FLV files. The original masters were not available. We Transcoded the file in Squeeze 7 to something are NLE could handle and spit the master back out to Squeeze encode the fixed FLV. There was a bit of a quality hit but it worked great as a temporary fix until we were able to work with the master video.
The presets that ship with Squeeze 7 are very good. Sorenson also has an active user community that is constantly uploading tweaks and new presets. Need a preset for playback on a specific Blackberry or Android phone? Chances are someone’s already made one. Not happy with a specific aspect of a paticular preset, teak away until you get what you like.
One of the ways we like to use batch processing is to tweak the setting of a particular set of codecs to shrink the file size as much as possible while maintaining the quality. We’re able to build our own stable of presets and know exactly what to expect in terms of file size and quality. Without the batch capabilities this type of experimentation would be cumbersome at best.
We haven’t even touched on the filters and a bunch of other stuff you can do with Squeeze 7. Rest assured there is plenty to play with in Squeeze 7 that goes way beyond the encoding capabilities and helps justify the cost. For example, if you just want to make some minor fixes without a full blown online session Squeeze 7 includes settings and filters such as Black Restore, brightness, contrast, crop, deinterlace, hue, saturation, inverse Telecine and 2:3 pulldown, image orientation, video noise reduction, watermark and more.
Sorenson’s Squeeze 7 has actually made the black art of compression easy and dare we say fun. The company has undergone a major brand refresh recently that’s reflected in a more accessible and down to earth approach in its products and on the web. Squeeze 7 is a really nice effort right out of the gate and with some minor tweaks can be made even better. If you work with video for a living definitely check out Squeeze 7.
Prices start at $499 for the flash only version up to $899 for the entire suite plus Dolby Pro encoders. We’d like to see those price points ratcheted down to $299 for flash only and up to $599 for Dolby Pro but let’s see how the market reacts.
Check out a 30 second encode of some fast moving and challenging video using a variety of Squeeze 7 presets here. We like the look of the latest ON2/Google VP8 codec in the WebM format.