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Sorenson Squeeze 5

New features include BluRay VC-1 support, improved MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 encoding, H.264 support


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In the three years since Sorenson's last point-0 release of video-compression software Squeeze, video compression has grown from a niche activity to a routine task. As ever more video content is uploaded to the Web, the number of compression applications has exploded. With so many budget alternatives, is Squeeze still worthy of consideration?

Unlike its rivals Autodesk Cleaner and Apple’s Compressor, Squeeze focuses on ease of use, though its feature set is fully professional. The learning curve is minimal; almost anyone can get results from the application within minutes.

Installation is relatively simple; Squeeze needs activating online before it will run. The interface resembles that of After Effects. A dark background, light text and a bright blue border highlight the currently active pane. Media files are selected in the Input pane, Audience Presets are added from the list below, while a preview displays top centre with the effective Batch Window displayed below that. A big ‘Squeeze It!’ button at the bottom right starts compression.

 

New features in version 5 are BluRay VC-1 support, improved MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 encoding, H.264 support and an improved de-interlace filter (blend and adaptive blend) on the visuals side, with AC-3 5.1/7.1 sound encoding and VST plug-in compatibility for the audio. The Pro version also includes Bias ‘SoundSoap’.

Performance varies, as you’d expect with a software-based solution, depending upon the host hardware. Squeeze 5 boasts multi-file encoding (1.5 files on each core) so multi-core systems obviously fare better.

Version 5 has several extra usability upgrades. FTP upload, for example, now happens within the program. The upload settings can be grouped with video and audio presets to create a single Audience Preset. With an Audience Preset defined, dragging it onto a clip means all the presets (compression, filters, cropping and upload etc) happen automatically. Unlike Apple’s Compressor, there is also a welcome Test Settings option for the FTP destination server.

 


Our criticisms of Squeeze 5 are minor. As straightforward as the majority of the options within the program are, the audio mixer is an exception. Also, the watermark filter only allows images to be positioned centrally or in a corner. A numerical offset would be far preferable for specific positioning. There were also times when the watermark didn’t preview correctly.

It would also be nice to have some form of FLV and SWF playback built in, so FLV and SWF files can be viewed offline before uploading. Finally, an ‘open recent’ dialog for the File menu would be a simple but helpful addition.

 


The choice of Squeeze versions can be bewildering. Unless Flash VP6 output, SoundSoap or command line control are crucial, we’d choose the standard version. If you need even fewer output options, the Flash-only version is great value at £99.

Verdict

Squeeze isn’t the cheapest encoder, but it’s certainly amongst the most user-friendly. It’s an ideal tool for click and forget compression that embraces formats like Blu-ray.

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