Sorenson Squeeze Desktop 10 Review

I have used Sorenson Squeeze for a number of years and the upgrade to Version 10 takes the software that was a little rough around the edges from a GUI standpoint and really ups the game.. What is already a world class video encoder, media processing application has really been refined. They have loaded this version with a lot of new features I get into later. For those of you looking at this product as a production solution there are many compelling reasons to upgrade and or purchase the software.

What I love most about this software is that it is simple to operate,  upon install you do not need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. But as you dive into the feature sets and possible customizations / job processing you will soon realize how powerful the application really is as a complete end to end solution.

Sorenson Squeeze 10 is a professional encoding product that can be used by a non-pro. Encoding with Sorenson Squeeze is simple, you select a source video or audio file.  Then choose encoding presets or per-configured global setting  and click “Squeeze it”. Want multiple versions of your media encoded in different resolutions, no problem just queue up the encodes you want and walk away.

sorensonOne of the use cases for me is taking a 720p .mp4 media file and using the encoder to convert it to 720p .webm format, it does a beautiful job and my master video quality is maintained. The number of conversion formats that Sorenson Squeeze supports is incredible, I really don’t think they miss anything.  For the full list review their website. Each of these supported formats have a selection of per-programed presets tested by the Sorenson team for best results.. Want a YouTube optimized video encode just pick the preset. They make it easy for you to get you up and running very quickly. If you do not like one of preset parameters, you can clone and change or add a preset and customize your own encode.

The Preference menu in Sorenson Squeeze 10 allows you to setup all the standard settings, export locations, VST plugins, set system loading parameters. GPU qualification etc. With Sorenson Squeeze 10 you can apply filters like watermarks, time-code, converting color to black and white, noise removal to name just a few. Within the preview window you can crop the video, select in and out points.

The GPU integration allows to use CUDA supported video cards, to encode media with the GPU on select presets at a much higher rate than using the CPU alone..

sorenson2Version 10 now comes in three version Lite, Standard & Pro with slight feature deltas between versions. There is cost delta between the three so review the options you will need carefully. Their is also upgrade paths for existing customers.

New Codec support includes the new  HEVC/x265  High Efficiency Video Coding,  also new now you can encode and decode with the VP9 codec. New is also Multi-Rate bundle encoding feature that lets setup one preset to output up to 4 presets with one click. Automatically packages files for Apple HLS, Adobe Dynamic Streaming, Microsoft Smooth Streaming, MPEG DASH, and MP4 downloads by only encoding each data rate once and then packaging everything into multiple formats.

Another new feature is the ability to link closed caption files with your media. Squeeze also now supports 4k

sorenson3As in past versions you can automatically push media that has been encoded to content delivery networks like Amazon S3, Akamai, YouTube or a FTP site you customize. If you are working for a client Squeeze also has a notification and review feature that allows automated emails with review and approval forms included to speed up your media production.

One thing I like is that I can take a production quality video recording from Wirecast or my Tricaster and I can import the raw master.  I can then set the in and out points on the video and very quickly encode a full show or break out some highlight segments.

Squeeze 10 can also be used to capture video. It worked with my digital video camera and few other devices, but I could not get it to work with my Black Magic Design Video card.

The option I like the best, is that it has some automated features that you can setup to watch a folder. As soon as the media is put in the folder squeeze will start encoding media based on what you have set in your Global Job Settings. What this allows you to do is produce your master recording in your favorite video editing program and as soon as it is finished squeeze will start building the additional media files automatically that you have designated. With the auto publish feature it will then upload to your cdn etc.

Lets talk about cost.. The pro version brings you an incredible feature set that you will want, I looked at both the lite version and the standard version but really knew I would need the HEVC/x265 encoder. This alone was worth the price of the product. The Lite version is $199, Standard $549, Pro $749. While the pro price may scare you this is a nuts to bolts video encoder that is going to save you a ton of time. Automated Uploading to you CDN or YouTube, Automated processing of watch folders, review and approval management, CC support, VP9 the list goes on. Sorenson Squeeze 10 is a serious piece of my software arsenal.

Robot Underpants: 11.05.14 (176) “The Fifth of November”

Baron Mat “Langley” Luschek, “Starman” Michael Gaines and Kathy Hopkins bring you this week’s latest, including: Comikaze, Emoji news, Star Wars news, MST3K news, video game news and more!

* Comikaze Photos
* New Emojis
* Star Wars VII Wraps
* Internet Archive Brings Video Games
* Alien Base on Moon?
* MST3K Thanksgiving Marathon
* Most Recognizable Pop Song
* Guy Fawkes Day
* Surface is a Good iPad Stand

Stan Lee’s Comikaze 2014 (Day 2 Photos)

Stan Lee’s Comikaze 2014 (Day 1 Photos)

Groupon Are Great

Groupon LogoGroupon often comes in for criticism when suppliers who use the site fail to deliver on the advertised product or service. You can argue the merits of whether they should be liable or not, but actions speak louder than words and for me, Groupon have done the right thing.

Back in December of last year, I bought a Nexus 10 via an offer on Groupon UK for around GB£250. It arrived promptly and worked fine until a problem developed with the flash on the camera in late April. I contacted the supplier and after supplying photos of the problem, they agreed to repair the tablet in “six to eight weeks”. The tablet was sent to the supplier in mid-May so I was expecting the Nexus 10 back by end of July at the latest.

Four months later at the end of September, I was still waiting for the tablet to be repaired and returned. As the supplier couldn’t give my anything definite, I contacted Groupon via their website and after a few days of correspondence to confirm my side of the story, Groupon refunded my money. That’s how you do customer service.

Thank you very much, Groupon.

(And yes, I’ve ordered a Nexus 9 with the refund.)

Sending It Up

Any seasoned watcher of Indiegogo and Kickstarter will know that there’s a fairly standard formula for product pitches, from the vocal inflections to the disembodied hands. This gives a great opportunity for lampooning those start-ups that take themselves entirely too seriously. Here’s Introducing Carrot, a new venture dedicating to bringing the orange root vegetable to the technorati. Not sure why they didn’t go with Carrt….

If that’s not enough, Ikea’s BookBook, is both a fabulous parody while promoting a real product. Total genius, though it has been around for a little while.

Finally, Mike Frey‘s My Life Vs…GoPro is a great antidote to GoPro’s videos, jumpcutting between their adrenaline-fuelled action and mundane reality.

All too true.

Redbox Instant Shutting Down

redboxI have had a Redbbox Instant account for a couple of months, and was actually on the verge of canceling it. The only reason I decided not to, was that I had been getting 4 free video rentals per month and the kids had been using the service off an on. This morning I received the following notice.

Thank you for being a part of Redbox Instant by Verizon. We’re reaching out to let you know that the service will be shut down on Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.
You will receive a separate email from us on Friday, October 10 with details regarding refunds you are owed. For additional information, please click here.
In the meantime, you may continue to stream movies and use your Redbox kiosk credits until Tuesday, October 7 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.
Thanks again for being a Redbox Instant by Verizon customer. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for the opportunity to entertain you.
Sincerely,
The Redbox Instant by Verizon Team

Massdrop Raises $6.5 million

Massdrop LogoMassdrop have announced that it has raised $6.5 million in a Series A round of financing, led by Mayfield Fund. This new funding brings the company’s total funds raised to about $8 million, which includes existing investors Kleiner Perkins, First Round Capital and Cowboy Ventures. Massdrop will use the cash to fuel its rapid growth and deliver on its vision for a new wave of community-driven commerce.

If you haven’t come across Massdrop before, it’s a bit like a social version of GroupOn. Massdrop supports a range of communities from automotive to in-vogue vaping. A poll product category is put forward and enthusiasts suggest different models in the product category, before everyone votes on their preferred one. For example, there might be a poll for external battery packs with models from Anker, NewTrent, Mophie and Satechi put forward and then voted on. Once there are some top choices, Massdrop approach the vendor(s) to see if they would be interested in a bulk sale, potentially with a range of price points based on volume. If agreeable, the product is put on sale with the different points shown thermometer-style. Purchasers can either buy regardless of price point or else commit to buy when it reaches a particular point.

It’s a cool idea that seems guaranteed to get savings. There are some downsides, the main one being that you have to wait until you get your hands on the product. First, the purchasing window has to close, then the whole shipment is delivered to Massdrop who finally re-ship the individual items. Definitely not for goods you want in hurry, but where it scores is that you potentially get the best product in the class at a good price.

On this basis, it’s not hard to see why Massdrop could be big. It combines the benefits of a crowd-sourced product recommendation site with the power of group purchasing to reduce prices while keeping quality up. For vendors, it’s no longer a race to the bottom; there’s an incentive to make good products.

Further, unlike Kickstarter and Indiegogo, you’re buying a real, existing product and not gambling on the design and manufacture of an unknown product which takes months to deliver.

I think that the financiers have made a canny investment in Massdrop as there’s lots of potential here and I’ll be looking out for a bargain on the site too. What do you think?

Podcast Awards Acquired by New Media Expo


As Founder of the Podcast Awards, I want to announce some exciting news. After some thought, I’ve made the decision to sell The Podcast Awards to New Media Expo and their team. I made this decision as Rick and his team have been so involved with us over the past few years.

It has been my absolute pleasure to create and run the awards for the past 9 years, giving podcasters a platform to be recognized. All of this would not have been possible without the support of the podcasting community, and the podcasters that supported the show financially. I will be forever grateful for their participation.

Over the past couple of years, New Media Expo has been instrumental in our Awards Ceremony’s success. I feel certain that the NMX team is ready to take The Podcast Awards to the next level.

Of course, I am not disappearing. I will have a founders’ role and will advise the NMX team in the development and production of the 10th annual event, April 14th in Las Vegas, NV. While Rick and his team will likely make some changes along the way, the spirit of the Peoples Choice Awards will still remain, with the nominees and winners being selected by the listeners, fans and podcasters.

See you at the 10th Annual Podcast Awards

Todd

See New Media Expo Comment

Archos Smart Home Review

Archos LogoThese days it’s either i-this or smart-that with new gadgets measuring and changing our personal environment. From Fitbit to Philips Hue, the internet of things is steadily growing and into this increasingly connected world, French firm Archos have stepped in. Their Smart Home tablet wirelessly connects sensors to a central hub that monitors and initiates actions based on conditions. Archos kindly lent me a Smart Home to raise the IQ of my house. Let’s take a look.

Archos Smart Home Box

In the box there’s the Smart Home tablet, plus six connected objects; two mini-cams, two movement tags and two weather tags. The tablet itself looks much like a digital photo frame but it’s actually a small 7″ device running Android 4.2.

Archos Smart Home Front View

Archos Smart Home Rear View

In the looks department, the Smart Home tablet fits the bill with styling that wouldn’t look out of place in a living room. It is all plastic, including the screen which seems to be acrylic rather than glass, but perhaps will better withstand being knocked. Some thought has been given to the design as the screen’s viewing angle appears to be have been adjusted slightly so that screen looks good when someone looks down at it, rather than straight on. There’s only about 2.5 GB of free memory on-board but there is a microSD card slot to boost the Smart Home’s capacity. Performance-wise, it’s no speed demon with a 1.2 GHz ARM processor, but as most of the time the Smart Home just sits there receiving data, it’s a not a big deal. A camera and a thermometer are built into the tablet too and these can be used to take pictures and measure the temperatureas well as the connected objects.

The connected objects are shown below with the mini-cam, weather tag and movement tag from left to right. All have sticky pads which allow adhesion to flat surfaces round the house. The mini-cam ball is held in the foot by magnets and it means the ball can oriented in almost any direction. The weather tag measures temperature and humidity, and the movement tag can measure both motion and door opening / closing.

Archos Smart Home Sensors

Getting setup is easy and straightforward. Running the Archos Smart Home software initially asks for the different rooms where devices are located.

Smart Home Rooms

Once the rooms are setup, the connected objects can be added into the relevant room. The objects use Bluetooth rather than Zigbee and pairing is simply a case of holding down a button on the connected object for 5 seconds. It worked flawlessly. The pairing screen shows all the objects available, not only the ones in the box.

Accessories

Once all setup, the Smart Home tablet presents a view with the room and all the objects in the room.

Hall

In the Hall, I had two mini-cams, a weather tag and a movement tag. Tapping on any device in the app then gives more data or information – here’s the weather tag showing data over the past week for both temperature and humidity.

Temperature and Humidity

Great but how do we get from monitoring the weather to doing something smart? Archos have the answer by building simple “if this, do that” programs. For example, if temperature falls below two degrees Celsius, email to me “It might be slippy.” Or more usefully, if the door opens, take a picture and send an email – like this.

Program

Sure enough, when the front door is opened, I get an email (my personal email is address is obscured by the black box).

Mail

 

The mini-cam also takes a picture (or a short video) but they won’t show a live feed, presumably because Bluetooth can’t transfer the data very quickly. You’ll notice one of the slight problems….the Smart Home doesn’t really take pictures fast enough as in many of the photos the person who opened the door has already moved out of shot. These are all real life photos, nothing was staged. A mini-cam positioned further down the hall generally did better at getting people entering the property.

Minicam Pictures

Out of the box, there’s a fairly limited range of actions such as send email, turn on plug and so on, but Smart Home can use the Tasker app to do more. Tasker supports a wide range of actions, including starting other apps, which makes it quite a powerful solution. However, even this simple email-me-on-the-front-door-opening is useful when wanting to know if someone has arrived home safely (or a thief has broken into your house!)

Other nifty features are that the Smart Home can be accessed from other tablets or smartphones. After a straightforward authorisation process, the system can be viewed from other devices both inside and outside the house. Here’s what it looks like on my smartphone.

Smartphone View

Overall, the Smart Home worked well, mostly sitting on the table doing its job. I did find that I mostly used my ordinary tablet (a Nexus 7)  to work with the Smart Home rather than picking up the unit itself. I set the Smart Home tablet up as a digital photo frame using the standard Android Daydream screensaver to fit into the room.

There were a couple of problems, the first being the range and penetration of Bluetooth. I live in a modest house with brick walls which meant that the weather tag at the rear of the property couldn’t be picked up if the Smart Home tablet was in the front room. Secondly, battery life – the mini-cams seemed get through a set of batteries in about a fortnight and each one took three CR2450 button cells. The movement and weather tags weren’t quite so bad – perhaps a month and only one battery. As an aside there’s no way of muting the low battery warnings that appear in orange on the screen. A connected object could be disconnected but that deleted the historical date at the same time.

Bizarrely, the other problem was how I felt about spying on my family, which is not anything to do with the Archos Smart Home, so I’ll save that for another post. I can see the Smart Home working for families with children that come home when the parents are still at work and the email notifications would give any parent a measure of comfort that their son or daughter is home safe.

The Smart Home costs GB£199 from Archos’ online store. Other additional connected objects are “coming soon”, including an HD weatherproof camera and a siren tag. In summary, the Smart Home is a well integrated system that has room for expansion with more types of connected objects but watch out for the limitations of Bluetooth range and battery life.

Thanks to Archos for the loan of the Smart Home.