Image Processing Reference
It is too soon to draw any conclusions about which of the available H.264 encoding
tools produces the best results. There are some slight differences in how they have both
interpreted the standard, causing some minor interoperability issues. This should be able
to be corrected by an update patch by the time you are reading this. So make sure if you
buy Squeeze that you run all the available updaters as well.
This encoder is good for creating web video, but it is an early implementation and
not ideal for TV-quality use yet. This is somewhat typical of a lot of early implementations
of H.264 encoders. These issues will be solved in the fullness of time as the H.264 imple-
mentations improve and mature.
The defaults in the menus don't include European TV resolution settings; the range
and scope of the settings appear to be optimized for Internet delivery. Selecting the default
settings seems to be the way to go for fast and reliable encoding. However, the parameters
can be set manually to larger values. This will operate the codec out of its optimal range, so
while it might work, compression jobs might take an abnormally long time or might crash
the encoder. Short compression jobs using default parameters move along quite quickly.
Running some simple experiments with an initial release of Squeeze Compression
Suite version 4 suggests that there is still some work to be done but that it will be a very
good tool once it matures. Some batching and workflow support is provided, and watch
folders are implemented for building automated compression systems. Table 30-4 lists the
formats that Squeeze supports.
In addition to the video formats listed in Table 30-4, Squeeze also imports and
exports a variety of audio files, still images, and animation files.
Version 4 of Sorenson Squeeze was released in summer 2004. You may still find ver-
sion 3 to be useful, and since it is mature it will work reliably. In fact, it is worth having
both versions, 3 and 4, installed on your system if you spend any amount of time com-
pressing video. Version 4 will improve as updates are released.
Running H.264 compressors on Mac OS 10.3 is an interesting experience. The file is
manufactured, but you cannot play it back because QuickTime does not natively support
H.264 on versions prior to version 7. The “play” button in Squeeze does not do any better,
because it delegates the playback to QuickTime. The moral of this tale is that you must
make sure everything is upgraded if you are going to do any serious work with H.264.
Solve this particular problem with an upgrade to Mac OS 10.4 or QuickTime 7.
When you are encoding media on the Mac OS platform and you know that it is going
to be played back on the same platform, then Sorenson Squeeze and the Sorenson Pro
codec are the right choices for getting the best possible quality in your output file until
H.264 is stabilized and fully supported.
There is more information about Squeeze at the Sorenson web site.
Buy version 2 installations just as version 3 is released. You get good close-
out deals on the old version, and upgrades may be free or quite cheap.