Exporting/Compression Applications

ATeam icons

Exporting your edit out of your NLE is one of the many important processes of post production. In the tape-based days of exporting, it could be a very tedious and time consuming process that required a lot of quality assurance. With the digital era of video and web based content taking charge, exporting your videos isn’t as hard as it use to be. As a video producer, it is my job to know what specifications are necessary to deliver to my broadcast and web vendors to ensure that my commercials get aired properly. That is why I need to know all the available media compression applications on the market. I’m going to highlight three applications that I’ve used for the last five years to get the job done.

Adobe Media Encoder

Adobe_Media_Encoder_CS6_Icon

My go to compression/exporting application for the last four years has been Adobe Media Encoder. In times of fast turnarounds and very specific video types, Media Encoder has been clutch more times than I can count. Since I’ve been using the Creative Suite/Creative Cloud, Media Encoder has been apart of the bundle. Long before Premiere Pro had the ability to export media from the application itself, you had to queue in Media Encoder to get the final render you needed. The latest iteration of Media Encoder is a stable and reliable application that is able to meet vendor specifications much easier than anything I’ve used previously. Whether I need Quicktime files or mp4 files, it gets the job done. Below are a few abilities of Media Encoder:

  • Match Source presets
  • Exporting Closed Caption data
  • Import and export of Avid DNxHD assets
  • Support for new formats such as Sony 4K AVC-Intra (XAVC), Panasonic AVCI-200, DNxHD in an MXF container, XDCAMHD in a QuickTime (.mov) container, and more

Apple Compressor

icon128-2x

The next compression/exporting application I used quite often is Apple’s Compressor. Compressor has been apart of the Final Cut suite for the last decade, and the latest installment is much stronger and efficient than before. I’ll be honest about my use of Compressor. I used it mostly when I needed to make DVDs or seldom used file types. It got the job done until I shifted to an Adobe workflow. It could be that the computer I had previously wasn’t strong enough to harness its true power. Overall, I found Compressor to be a backup in case Media Encoder failed to deliver what I needed. I have found that the latest version of Compressor works great when I edit with Final Cut Pro X. It creates great master files and web ready H.264 files very efficiently and clean. It even creates video files for iTunes app display. In my opinion, it is one of the best compression/exporting applications on the market and shouldn’t be overlooked. Below are a few features of Apple Compressor:

  • Intuitive interface
  • Streamlined workflow
  • Share Final Cut Pro settings
  • Encoding available for Apple devices
  • Broad format support and more

MPEG Streamclip

MPEG-Streamclip-icon

MPEG Streamclip is a free application available for Mac and Windows which can open a variety of file types, as well as transcode to a variety of formats. In my opinion, this application was at its peak when most NLEs couldn’t take raw formats like H.264 from DSLRs. With most NLEs now supporting raw format editing in real time, this application has become more of a last resort compression application when you have no other choice. When I edited with Final Cut Pro 7 and Premiere Pro CS5, using this application to transcode footage was a common part of my workflow. These days, I help new  filmmakers learn to use it when they don’t have access to the aforementioned applications above. Overall, MPEG Streamclip is still a versatile application and I believe you should have it in your arsenal just in case. Below are a few features of MPEG Streamclip:

  • Lets you play and edit QuickTime, DV, AVI, MPEG-4, MPEG-1, MPEG-2 or VOB files. Transport streams with MPEG, PCM, or AC3 audio (MPEG-2 playback component required), DivX (with DivX 6) and WMV (with Flip4Mac WMV Player).
  • Saves edited movies as MOV files, and (when possible) as AVI or MP4 files.
  • Handles files and streams larger than 4 GB, split in any number of segments, or with multiple audio tracks, and can also optionally handle timecode breaks. It is compatible with MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 video, MPEG layer 1/2 (MP1/MP2) audio, AC3/A52 audio, and PCM audio.
  • Supports batch processing: just drag some files in the batch list, choose a conversion and a folder, click the Go button, and MPEG Streamclip will automatically convert all your files.

As you can see, these three applications are very capable of creating deliverables necessary to get your project out. While there are other applications like Sorenson Squeeze, Red Giant Offload, and camera based conversion programs, these programs have shown that they can perform at the top level. Feel free to try them out and find out what works best for you.

Royalty Free Music

FCPX 10.1.2 New Features

FCPX_logo_1

It’s been over three months since the last update to Final Cut Pro X, but now an update has finally appeared with added features to make the editing experience much smoother. With the 10.1.2 update, users now have greater control of media management, a new Pro Res codec, new effects/titles/transitions, and more. I’m going to highlight some of those new features and additions now.

Library Media Management

headline_NEW-FCPX-10-1-Libraries

Managing media in the library has enhanced, giving users more options for what goes in and what stays out. When you open FCPX 10.1.2, you now have the ability to look at the library properties through the inspector window. You can determine where media gets imported, where the cache files (render files, audio waveforms, and thumbnail images), and backups are stored. The old method required the user to find things from the Finder level. This is similar to how FCP legacy worked with scratch disk locations and other options when starting a project. The folks at Ripple Training provide a few training videos explaining the new media management the library offers below.

Import Enhancements

Users now have the ability to import media into the browser by dragging and dropping. If you are an editor who prefers organizing your clips from the Finder level, then you will enjoy this feature quite a bit.

11.dragging_clips

If you are using the Mavericks OSX, you can also create keyword collections based on Finder tags. If you select single or multiple files and tag them in the Finder, you have the option to create a keyword collection based on that tag.

09.Import_finder_tags

One addition added to the import window is the ability to sift through videos and photos using a drop down menu. Sometimes, you want to see all the media you recorded on a card, and sometimes you want to focus on either video or photo. This drop down addition makes the process easier.

12.filter_clips_import_window

Apple Pro Res 4444 XQ

Apple-ProRes

Included in the update of FCPX is an Apple Pro App codecs update. This brings a new flavor of Pro Res known as Apple Pro Res 4444 XQ. This is the highest quality of the Pro Res codecs, and it has a very high data rate to preserve the detail in high-dynamic-range imagery generated by today’s highest-quality digital image sensors. This codec will probably work best with Arri Alexa and RED cameras that shoot 4K-6K clips. From what I’ve read, it has a data rate of about 500 Mbps, and supports embedded alpha channels as well. This new Pro Res codec will be used a lot for broadcast and cinema masters.

Audio Enhancements

Users of FCPX now have the ability to adjust audio volume of clips either relatively or absolutely. To do this, you can select your clips, go to the Modify>Adjust Volume option, and choose between Relative or Absolute.

19.Adjust_volume_command

Improvements to Voice Tool have also been made. It includes a countdown feature which makes it easier to know when the audio will be at your playhead’s location. On top of that, you can place different takes of the voiceover in an audition clip to determine which has the best performance.

21.record_voiceover

Transitions, Titles, & Effects

One thing that went unnoticed (until it was brought up to the FCPX guru Alex Gollner) was the addition of new titles, transitions, and effects. FCPX 10.1.2 has added more items for users to integrate into their edits. You can see them all in this video Alex uploaded below.

Overall, I’m very happy with this new update and the progress Final Cut Pro X has made over the last three years. It wasn’t the most liked NLE at first, but little by little it has matured into an admirable piece of software that folks, like myself and others, can make money with. I look forward to what 10.1.3 brings us in the future.

Sound Effects

Compression Apps Pro and Cons

Compressor2

 

 

 

 

 

If you are a seasoned editor or new to video editing, one of the many things that will frustrate you off the bat is dealing with exporting and compression. Sometimes, it can be straightforward if your client gives you requirements for the format they need their outputs in. Other times, you will find yourself playing a game of compression roulette, trying to get good quality in a small file size only to find the format you chose was not compatible with your client’s needs. Thankfully there are many applications such as Apple’s Compressor, Adobe Media Encoder and MPEG Streamclip that are designed to help alleviate your potential exporting nightmare. In my years as an editor, I’ve managed to use all these apps to facilitate deliverables for my clients.

In this article, I will discuss the pros and cons of each application, to provide a better understanding of which app may fare better in different situations. As a disclaimer, the pros and cons are based on my personal experience using them, and may not be exactly the same as your experience will be.

applenotes_02

Apple Compressor (sold as part of Final Cut Studio 3: $999, as a separate app: $50)

Pros

  • Great to use when you need to encode your finished file for a DVD
  • Encoding can be automated by creating droplets
  • Greater and more detailed customization than what is allowed in Final Cut Pro 7 or X
  • Has better conversion for slowing down footage using optical flow

Cons

  • Roundtripping from FCP 7 tends to yield poor results and can cause crashes
  • Encoding to h.264 can be really slow at times
  • It’s not a fully 64 bit application
  • Interface hasn’t changed in version 4 and is still a bit confusing for new users
  • Doesn’t take advantage of all cores on a multi-core Mac

Overall, I would use Compressor if I needed to encode a project for DVD or needed specific customization for a client deliverable. Otherwise, it’s the least used encoding application in my toolbox.

MPEG-Streamclip-logo

MPEG Streamclip (free app from squared5.com)

Pros

  • Can convert to Quicktime, DV, .avi, .mp4 and more
  • Has the ability to open DVD Video TS folders
  • You can batch encode multiple files into one format
  • Preferred app for DSLR users with h.264 footage
  • Works on PC and Mac
  • Can trim, cut and join other movies together

Cons

  • Only converts audio to .aiff which can result in larger audio file size
  • Doesn’t support AVCHD or MXF file conversion
  • Parameters can be confusing for people who aren’t video savvy

Overall, I believe MPEG Streamclip is a must have in your toolkit if you need quick and dirty conversion. It is a highly recommended application among the DSLR community and best part of all is that it is free.

mediaEncoder

Adobe Media Encoder ($50 a month as part of the Creative Cloud)

Pros

  • Can encode to formats of Quicktime, .wav, .mxf and many more
  • Comes equipped with presets for many multimedia needs such web, DVD, broadcast, iOS, Android and more
  • Can be queued from Premiere and After Effects
  • Two pass encoding is available for higher quality output

Cons

  • Learning curve for usage is not as beginner friendly
  • Two pass encoding can be slow if you aren’t using a reasonably powerful computer

Overall, I’ve always found Media Encoder to be my encoding application of choice. The amount of headaches its relieved are second to none. With the next iteration on the horizon with CC, it will only grow stronger and more dependable with time.

That’s my assessment of the popular encoding applications used by video editors. They each possess their pros and cons but I’m a firm believer in using what gets the job done best and gives you the least headaches. There are many other encoding apps on the market but these three tend to be the most used and reliable for the various post production tasks that may arise.

I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

Royalty Free Music