Tutorial: Sorenson Squeeze 9
Squeeze offers great single- and multiple-file encoding performance, excellent quality, and a range of features that other encoders in its class simply can't match. Here's a look at how Squeeze works and how to leverage some of its key features.
Sorenson Squeeze is a highly functional cross-platform desktop transcoder that l use almost every day. That’s because it goes beyond simple file transcoding with a range of features that most competitive products can’t match.
In this tutorial, I’ll introduce you to Squeeze, and show you the features that distinguish it from other desktop encoders.
First, let’s get familiar with the product and workflow.
Figure 1 (below) shows the main Squeeze UI. You can import a file or multiple files into the program using the Import File control indicated in Figure 1, or via drag and drop (Figure 2, below Figure 1). You can also capture video from connected devices via the Capture button, or set up watch folders by clicking the Watch Folder icon.
Figure 1. Click Import File to import a video clip into Squeeze.
Figure 2. Adding files via drag and drop.
From the Batch window on the left side of the UI (Figure 3, below), you can drag one or more presets onto each file, either as a group or one by one. Then you can right-click to customize the preset (Figure 4, below Figure 3), and click Squeeze It! (lower-right corner) to encode the file.
Figure 3. Choosing a preset for batch encoding.
Figure 4. The Presets dialog, where you customize encoding presets to your liking.
Preset Encoding Options
One of Squeeze’s strengths is the breadth of its preset options (Figure 5, below). You have support for multiple audio formats; multiple flavors of Flash, including both VP6 and H.264; and HTML5 video, which I’ll get into later.
Figure 5. Preset encoding options in Squeeze.
Of course, you have support for MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and both the x264 and MainConcept H.264 codecs for maximum quality and encoding flexibility. Squeeze also supports less mainstream, but still relevant formats such as Ogg Audio, WebM, and Windows Media Video also supported. If you’re editing on the Avid platform, you can export in Avid DNxHD, or output in ProRes for editing in Final Cut.
Squeeze includes many essential filters you can use to make quick changes to your videos, brightness and color adjustments, deinterlacing, timecode passthrough, and watermarking (Figure 6, below). You can even access third party VST plug-ins like iZotope’s audio plug-ins.
Figure 6. Choosing filters in the New Filter dialog.
Publishing Your Encoded File
After encoding is finished, you can publish the file to Sorenson 360 (which we’ll discuss in detail later in this article), to an Amazon S3 account, to an FTP site, or to YouTube (Figure 7, below). If you have Squeeze Server installed in your organization, you can send send the job there for offline encoding. These delivery features take the drudgery out of manually uploading files after they’re done encoding.
Figure 7. Publishing options in Squeeze 9.
With those basics covered, let’s look at the features that separate Squeeze from the pack.
Unlimited Parallel Processing
When you’re encoding multiple files to multiple outputs, Squeeze offers parallel processing, which enables you to encode an unlimited number of files simultaneously to get the most out of your multicore CPU (Figure 8, below). Some competing products max out at two simultaneous encodes.
Figure 8. Monitoring multicore processor utilization in Squeeze with multiple encodes afoot.
If you need to reserve CPU cycles for other activities, you can control that by adjusting the Compression Systems Load slider under the Advanced tab in the Preferences window (Figure 9, below).
Figure 9. Adjusting the Compression Systems Load slider to reserve CPU cycles for other activities.
Divide and Conquer
When you’re encoding a single long file, most encoders render from start to finish, which can be slow and inefficient. Squeeze uses a process called Divide and Conquer to divide the longer file into smaller portions that it can render simultaneously, and then piece back together into the complete file. You can see the files it’s creating during the encoding process in the window shown in Figure 10 (below).
Figure 10. Squeeze dividing and conquering.
This technique allows Squeeze to more efficiently use available CPU resources and encode single files much faster.
Distributing Encoded Files
Next we’ll look at how Squeeze helps you distribute your encoded files more effectively. For example, HTML5 is a great technology for streaming single files to desktops and mobile devices. Squeeze is the only tool that produces both WebM and H.264 files, and generates the HTML code necessary to post the file to a website.
You use an HTML5 preset to encode your files. Press Squeeze It! and Squeeze produces the two encoded files, plus the JPEG poster image and the necessary HTML code (Figure 11, below).
Figure 11. Squeeze generates the full complement of files necessary to publish HTML5-encoded video and switch to Flash on devices that don’t support HTML5.
Squeeze creates a SWF file and the necessary code to fall back to Flash, so you can deliver to legacy browsers that aren’t HTML5-compatible. This technique lets you deliver to all iOS and Android devices, and virtually all desktops, all without any coding. No competing product offers anything like it.
Adaptive File Creation
No tool makes it simpler to create the files necessary for adaptive streaming, whether via Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming, Microsoft’s Smooth Streaming, or DASH.
Squeeze’s well-conceived assortment of presets make it simple to create your files and follow best practices like using the same keyframe interval for all files and the same audio parameters (Figure 12, below).
Figure 12. Adaptive file creation in Squeeze 9.
During encoding, Squeeze produces all the necessary chunked audio/video files and manifest files; all you have to do is upload them all to a web server and link to the main manifest file.
Review and Approval Workflow
If you’re producing video for a client, Squeeze makes it easy to get their review and approval. When you configure the encode, you can tell Squeeze to upload the file to your Sorenson 360 account (which is free when you buy Squeeze) by choosing the Sorenson 360 publishing option. Then you click Client Approval (reviewer), under Notifications and Reviews (Figure 13, below), which opens the Edit Notification dialog (Figure 13). From there you can send an email or text message to the client letting them know that the file is available for review (Figure 14, below Figure 13).
Figure 13. Entering the necessary info to send a completed edit to a client for review.
Figure 14. Client review in Sorenson 360.
Your clients then receive a link they can click to open the file in Sorenson 360, where they can add their comments, approve, or ask for revisions, and send their comments back to you. This process can cut hours or even days from a project life cycle.
Beyond these high-level tools are a bunch of essentials that most other encoders don’t supply. For example, Squeeze makes it simple to preview your encoding job by clicking the preview icon (Figure 15, below), which encodes a five-second preview of the file around the playhead.
Figure 15. Click here to preview your encode.
As discussed earlier, Squeeze can deliver encoded videos to a variety of places for you, and send you an email or text message when encoding is complete.
So that’s it. Squeeze offers great single- and multiple-file encoding performance, excellent quality, and a range of features that other encoders in its class simply can’t match. If you’re looking to upgrade your encoding capabilities, you should definitely check it out.
For more information about Sorenson Squeeze, and special upgrades for Avid editors, contact Videoguys.com at 800-323-2325.