One of the challenges with creating video in this day, is that you have to encode several formats of video to cover all browsers and devices. I have worked very hard to minimize the number of encodes I need to make each week due to the time involved. While there are several online services that I could upload master media files to for encoding, it is generally very expensive, and who wants to upload a 6gb file, just to get the media into their encoding queue.
Over the past couple of years my media work flow, required my master file to be re-encoded so I would have distribution files, that would be optimized for the web and viewing on devices like the Apple TV, Roku, iPad, iPhone, Android etc. All was well with my process until several months ago, when Google pulled the rug out from under everyone, and said that the next version of chrome would not have native HTML5 support for H.264 encoded media.
This posed a dilemma as I wanted to be able to support HTML5 at GNC to the fullest. Also in part because I am sick and tired of having YouTube and Blip video embed files on my site. Blip.tv video embed playback performance has been crap. The videos that I push to YouTube seem never to be as nice as I want them to be after YouTube has had their way on the uploaded file.
When Angelo my CIO at RawVoice, put in a provision in our PowerPress 2.0 plugin that not only made our player 100% html5 capable across all browsers and mobile devices, but also made it so that we would support .webm as well. I had to figure out how to start providing a .webm file for browsers that are supporting the format.
Finding a .webm encoder is like finding a needle in a haystack. Note to Google, you better make available a good encoder for Windows and Macs if you want this format to take off. Of those available I tried Miro, it was a piece of crap with no way to adjust settings, and it simply could not handle big master files, the firefogg.org plugin for Firefox, while free was so slow that it would take 2-3 days to encode one of my show files.
So as I was searching, Sorenson Squeeze 7 kept coming up and was reportedly the best commercial .webm encoder on the market. Seeing that I am not a command line Ninja anymore, and the thought of having to waste 2-3 days dealing with the command line using ffmpeg to come up with a solution, was not the stick in the eye pain I was willing to endure.
So I downloaded the 30 day free trial of Sorenson Squeeze Version 7, and while gasping for breath over the potential $800 price tag, I figured anything this expensive should be able to do one heck of a good job.
Now I will be honest this enoder lives up to it’s reputation, and I spent 4-5 hours testing a variety of encoding settings and a whole host of its options. My computers 8 cores definitively got a workout, and I think I am dialed in on what encoding templates I am going to use for my show publishing.
The best part is that this software happily automates several processes I used to do by hand. Everyone that knows me knows I am into automation and saving time. Sorenson Squeeze is going to save me many hours each month, by not forcing me to handle the files a couple of times before I get the finished product uploaded. More on that in a moment.
Lets look at the Interface
As you can see you can Import, Capture or setup a Watch Folder. The Watch Folder is where the magic happens. When I finish my show, then edit the recording and created the master file I would usually have to do more steps by hand. Now when the master encode is complete that file is saved in the watch folder, Sorrenson Squeeze then goes to work automatically on my video. Through preset on the watch folder, I have it create two .m4v files, and one .webm. When Sorenson Squeeze finishes an encode the software through the preset automatically uploads the files to my cdn where they are ready for distribution! This all happens, while I am asleep or doing other things. To top it off when the media files are ready for publish the software notifies me the job is complete by email or sms.
If you do not want to use the watch folder option, you can manually add the files, apply the encoding presets and let it encode.
The real power of Sorenson Squeeze, lays in the media encode presets options. If you are clueless on what settings to choose, they provide you with about a 100 presets on a variety of file formats or you can go to their website and download ones submitted by other users. I modified my own.
As you can see the preset lets you change a unusual high number of settings so that you can tweak your videos encodes, just the way you want them. Within the preset you can change, video and audio encoding settings, you can alter the media through a huge number of filters and even drop a watermark on your media, you can setup custom publishing locations and it will notify you by sms or email when the file has been published.
The Sorenson Squeeze encoder will take a source file and create .aac, .ac3. .swf, .flv, .m4a, .mkv, .mp3, .mpg, .mp4, .m4v, .ogg, .mov, .webm, .wmv format so it has you covered on what every media types you want to encode. I tried a variety of media files as the source file all with great results.
Is it worth the $800.00 price tag? Well until something else comes along that will do .webm easily yes. The software will pay for itself in simply not having to re-handle the encoded media. Having that process automated cuts my video production time by at least 2 hours each week.
As you remember in the beginning of this review my goal was to create .webm files. Here is what I have learned about .webm so far. Encoding time is much higher than .mp4/.m4v on a scale of 2 to 3 times longer. Encoding video is never a super fast process, but it beats me why it takes as long as it does, as compared to other media types. File sizes are typically a little bit bigger than a h.264 encode. The video quality delta between the H.264 media and .webm media is not even worth talking about at this point.
Finally the folks at Sorenson have documented the encoder well, even after a couple of years of heavy video encoding I am still learning, and some of the menu items had me digging into the help section of their website to understand what certain functions did.
I did break out my credit card and paid for the software, as it is a tool I need. While still very expensive for an encoder the software will pay for itself in under 6 months…Check out a 30 day demo yourself and let me know what you think of Sorenson Squeeze 7