Late tonight, Sorenson Media announced the release of the latest version of Squeeze to version 8.5.
Yesterday, I had a chance to talk with Coby Rich, Director of Marketing for Sorenson Media, about this upgrade to their industry-standard video compression program.
To get right to the essentials, the reason behind the update is speed – and more speed. Sorenson showed me charts that compared the new Squeeze versus the old Squeeze and, depending upon the video format involved, speeds were 2 to 5 times faster than earlier versions. (I have an update on this from Streaming Media East at the end of this article.)
NOTE: Coby pointed out that the speed improvements were focused on four key codecs: MP4 (H.264), MOV, MKV, and WebM.
They also added support for more video formats, improvements to Sorenson 360 – their video serving platform – and a more precise workflow with improvements to timecode.
Squeeze has been bundled with Avid Media Composer for a while, but users of other editing systems may not be familiar with it. Sorenson considers it the “Swiss Army Knife” of compression software. It first saw the light of day over 10 years ago, and Sorenson has been actively improving it ever since.
One of the challenges facing a new user of compression software is the overwhelming array of compression choices. While acknowledging that the choices can be overwhelming Coby said: “We view ourselves as a professional application. Editors want to tweak their settings to get exactly the results they want. We give them the control they need.”
The new version of Squeeze won’t decrease the number of compression options, as Sorenson continues to increase the number of supported formats, including:
One of the challenges in today’s world is that bandwidth varies depending upon what the Net is doing from one instant to the next. Adaptive bitrate was invented to help resolve that problem. Apple provides its own version called HOS. Sorenson added MPEG-DASH as an alternative to Apple.
How adaptive bit rate compression works is that the video compression software creates multiple versions of the same movie; for example, a version requiring low bandwidth, another requiring medium bandwidth, and a third for the fastest bandwidth. Since visual quality (and, often, image size) varies with bandwidth, this creates multiple versions of the same movie.
Once these multiple variations of the same movie are loaded to your video server, the server constantly monitors the speed of the connection between the server and the viewer. (“Bandwidth” is the measurement of connection speed.)
The video server senses whether your system is able to keep up with the current video stream. If you have more bandwidth available at that instant, the server automatically switches to the higher quality video. If bandwidth drops a few seconds later, the server automatically switches to a version of the video that uses less bandwidth. The goal is to provide the highest quality visual experience, even as bandwidth varies.
Since its launch, Sorenson has been tweaking their video streaming server called “Sorenson 360.”
With this release, Sorenson is making 5 GB of video storage space free for as long as you own Sorenson Squeeze. This makes 360 an ideal place to store your videos. Coby likened 360 to Dropbox, where 360 provides free cloud storage for videos. Plus, Sorenson added an improved video review and approval process and, more significant to me, improved security.
I had a problem with the original release of Sorenson 360 where videos I marked as private would be searched and listed by Google. Coby tells me they improved security by switching to the RTMP streaming protocol, and tightening passwords so that private videos will not become accidentally available. “In fact,” Coby said, “videos won’t even load into the server until the password has been properly entered and verified.”
Also improved is the review and approval process. You can add reviewers either in Squeeze (the traditional way) or directly in Sorenson 360.
When I asked Coby to list the key benefits of the new version, he said:
Just coincidentally, today at Streaming Media East, Jan Ozer, of the Streaming Media Center, presented a speed and quality comparison between Sorenson Squeeze, Apple Compressor, Adobe Media Encoder, and Telestream Episode on both Mac and Windows. (Compressor only runs on the Mac).
Jan’s results showed that the 8.5 version of Squeeze lived up to Coby’s promise of speed. In four tests on Windows, Squeeze won three of them. In quality, the results of the three compression programs on Windows were virtually tied.
On the Mac, Squeeze was the fastest single file encoder with outstanding image quality.
I’ve been a fan of Squeeze for a long while. And I’m looking forward to playing with the new version. Faster compression – with great quality – is always a good thing.
The update is free to all Sorenson Squeeze 8 users. Sorenson Squeeze 8.5 and 8.5 Pro are now available for $799 and $999, respectively, for new Squeeze customers. For upgrade pricing or more details visit: www.sorensonmedia.com.
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