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Review: Rhozet Carbon Coder 3

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Once you’ve loaded your source files and applied filters, click Target to select target output parameters. Carbon Coder supports both individual presets, which contain one set of output parameters, and profiles, which contain multiple presets.

For example, I applied four encoding presets by choosing one profile. Note that in addition to applying filters to source files, I can also add them to presets—a subtle but very powerful feature. For example, I can attach different gamma adjustment settings to my Windows Media preset than my Flash preset while attaching a semitransparent bitmap to both.

Once you’ve customized your presets and profiles, you can access them in the main program or via watch folders, adding a highly useful layer of shared encoding capabilities.

Now you’re ready to render, which you can do in two ways. Click Convert, and you’ll encode the files serially with Carbon Coder’s main interface. You can also click Queue to encode the files in the updated Carbon Administrator, which opens the job queuing window.

On a multicore system, click the one-job-for-each-target button in the middle of the window. This enables Carbon Coder to more efficiently assign processor cores to the encoding job. If your version of Carbon Coder is part of a rendering farm, click the render-in-network-grid checkbox on the bottom to send the files to the rendering farm.

Then click Queue to send the encoding jobs to the encoding engine. To watch your progress, open Carbon Administrator, the other program installed when you set up Carbon Coder. Operationally, you’ll always want to check the kernel settings to make sure you have as many transcoding slots as you have cores in your system. I tested on an HP xw8400—a 2.6GHz dual-processor, quad-core computer with a total of eight cores—so you can see eight slots in the figure.

In my tests, I started with 18 files, which I encoded to the four presets shown in Figure 1 for a total of 72 encoding tasks. Behind the kernel settings, you can see the first eight jobs encoding in the active-jobs tab. In the job-status box, located just below the menu bar, you can see the eight active jobs and the 64 queued jobs, which you can view by clicking the queued-jobs tab in the window. Separating jobs into four tabs as well as folding the enhanced watch-folder functions into the same window were some of the main interface upgrades in this version of Carbon Coder.

Encoding trials immediately revealed that Carbon Coder remains highly tuned for fast, multiprocessor efficiency. The unfortunate competitor in this round of testing was the newest version of Sorenson Squeeze, the first to offer simultaneous encoding of multiple files. To be fair, Squeeze costs 90% less than Carbon Coder, so keep that in mind when reviewing these numbers.

The first two lines of Windows Media testing illustrate how efficiently Carbon Coder can encode multiple files simultaneously or, in computer-speak, in parallel. The first line shows how long it took to render eight 1-minute test files serially within the main Carbon Coder interface (26:31), and the second shows how long it took to render the files in parallel in Carbon Administrator (11:11). This is a drop of about 57%, compared to only 10% for Squeeze.

Also note that Squeeze can’t produce multiple Flash files simultaneously using the On VP6 codec. Carbon Coder can, and it proved 56% faster when encoding in parallel. Squeeze also couldn’t simultaneously encode multiple files using the MainConcept H.264 encoder, the same used by Rhozet. Though Carbon Coder could encode to H.264 format in parallel, the time savings were not significant.

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