By Daniel M. East
If you work with video, chances are that Sorenson Squeeze (www.sorensonmedia.com) is one of your go-to items for compression and, as the hardware improves, it makes sense that the software moves forward with it. Sorenson Squeeze 8 brings performance without limiting you to making videos anchored to a desk.
Getting your show on the road is what Squeeze 8 (US$799) brings, because you can save your videos (with a high level of quality) to almost any device in a huge range of formats. Mobile quality must meet the demands of end-users and the newer devices have far better displays. For the design professional, however, HD quality doesn’t take a back seat either, and it’s where Squeeze 8 really shines.
Using cloud technologies, Squeeze Server, Sorenson 360, or your own storage, Squeeze 8 makes it incredibly easy to share your output by exporting one source to almost any format — Flash, QuickTime, MP4, H.264, and many others — while accommodating another client that may already be using Microsoft Smooth. Squeeze’s latest professional encoding support with adaptive bit-rate encoding is X.264. Apple HLS, Flash Dynamic, and Microsoft Smooth are all supported, allowing for immediate streaming to almost any device at any connection rate. A nice touch is that Sorenson isn’t abandoning older formats necessary for professionals, enterprise, or older computer systems.
Squeeze 8 adds completely seamless Squeeze Server integration so you can add jobs, presets, filters, and other settings for the server to relieve your desktop processor, while speeding up the process dramatically. Another performance improvement comes from Sorenson’s Enhanced GPU acceleration, which (according to the company) will encode high-quality video at up to three times faster than previous versions. Real-life testing confirms that the go-to-lunch-and-come-back wait time is now appreciably shorter, but still depends on the overall size of the source file(s).
Preset bit rates start at 512 KB/s and go up to 2000 KB/s, but can be customized (as in previous versions). In Squeeze 8, presets for Adaptive Bit Rate formats allow you to select a target rate and fine-tune each additional data rate for best results. You can create presets for Apple’s iOS 5 and Android-based devices, as well as by the generation of the product being used. Long-form videos fragment every six seconds with keyframes every two seconds. Short-form videos fragment and add keyframes every two seconds for videos that are less than five minutes.
After dragging the preset to the bottom of the workspace, you designate a destination and server for processing. The rest is automated and appreciably faster than prior versions of Squeeze. Sorenson doesn’t employ any specific security features that may slow down the process, but instead focuses on output quality.
Adjusting audio drift is always a challenge and sometimes there are problems where the video doesn’t sync. Watermarking is another filter option that looks great when adding your logo in whatever opacity you choose. Coming from a higher bit-depth to a lower one converts in the background, automatically reducing banding and other down-conversion issues.
A Lite version of Squeeze 8 is an option that still supports online formats, including Flash FLV, SWF, MPEG-4, WinMedia, QuickTime, and others, but it’s priced at US$199 for those who only require the essentials. Even in this version, the quality remains.
Sorenson seems to respond to customers, so the user experience is more comfortable and simplified, limited only by a given processor with its available RAM. Squeeze 8 includes a 30-day satisfaction guarantee plus a complimentary account for the Sorenson 360 platform.
Looking at similar options, Telestream Episode is the only competitor beyond offerings from content creation products by Adobe and Apple. If you’re mobile, in a boardroom, at a conference, creating DVDs, or just uploading to YouTube, the overall smoothness, image quality, audio quality, and variety of platforms supported by Sorenson Squeeze 8 make it the hands down winner!
Rating: 10 out of 10
(This review is brought to you courtesy of “Layers Magazine”: http://layersmagazine.com/ .)