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Encoding Tools Product Review

Once just an in-house piece of custom coding from a fledgling group of CD-ROM publishers, the original "Movie Cleaner" became a digital studio must-have tool as the norm of mastering to Betacam SP and dubbing to VHS gave way to the oft-dizzying world of digital distribution options. And that was when there were just a handful of compression choices for putting video on a disc. Today's streaming, download, and DVD options mean exponentially more viewing opportunities, but also far greater complexity.

Canopus' ProCoder (Windows only) and Sorenson Squeeze Compression Suite (Mac/Windows) have recently joined Cleaner, formerly from Terran Interactive and now from Discreet, as encoding tools that can help you keep up with the growing complexities of digital distribution. But can they match Cleaner's maturity? A recently released sixth revision of Cleaner for Mac users continues to support the latest codecs and formats with aplomb.

But hold on to your hat. There will be no Cleaner 6.0 for Windows. A new product, Cleaner XL, with a very different interface suited more to large-volume batch encoding has integrated Cleaner Central functionality directly into the main product. Job Queues and Output Profiles sound great, but what if your job is just trying to make a single file look good? Are the new changes and increased mouse clicks overkill?

Here, we take a first look at a Beta version of the new Discreet Cleaner XL and compare it to Canopus ProCoder, Sorenson Squeeze Compression Suite, and the familiar old version of Cleaner 5.1. The field is more crowded now, but direct competition is surprisingly mild as the three products aspire to different audiences. Which is right for your workflow will depend on what you know and what you do.

Next Page: Spot Shines And Industrial Cleansers

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