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New Features Abound in Sorenson Squeeze 6

Sorenson announced Squeeze 6 today and it looks impressive from both a technical and workflow perspective. I observed a hands-on demo a few weeks ago, but didn’t get final code in time to really test out the features. Here are what look to be the high points.

Particularly notable is the closer tie to Sorenson's online video platform, Sorenson 360. Specifically, all Squeeze customers get a free one year "Review & Approval" account to Sorenson 360. When you encode a file, Squeeze will upload it to Sorenson 360, send a link to your reviewer, and allow them to review the file and add comments. In addition to the great functionality—I’ve needed this type of easy review and approval for years—it's a great way to familiarize both parties (encoder and client) with the benefits of an online video platform in general, and specifically Sorenson 360, and so is a smart marketing play for Sorenson.

You can also add timecode and other filters to the encoded video before sending on for approval, and Sorenson added SMS text and email notification for the completion of file encodes, a nice convenience.

Figure 1. Here’s a review & approval page in Sorenson 360

Also new is built-in syndication to websites like YouTube and Twitter, and CDNs Limelight and Akamai. You start by inputting your account information for those accounts into Squeeze. Then, after choosing your encoding parameters, you drag the destination onto the job, and after encoding, the files will be uploaded to that destination.

Squeeze 6 ships with five destinations—the four mentioned plus Sorenson 360. If your online video platform uses standard FTP-based upload parameters, you can customize the FTP upload preset to achieve similar results. If the site uses a proprietary API, you’ll have to wait until Sorenson creates the required preset.

The interface itself has been updated and streamlined, but there will be little or no learning curve for current users. There are also a number of new features that may seem minor but will prove very convenient to many users. For example, you can now burn a menu-less DVD from the Squeeze batch window, saving a step to Adobe Encore or Apple DVD Studio Pro. There are now presets for DV and HDV so you can easily convert footage back to these standard formats, and the program can also now input AVCHD.

Figure 2. You can burn content directly to a DVD, a nice convenience option

From a performance perspective, Squeeze 6 can now encode to VP6 format in parallel, a huge time saver for VP6 publishers, though all H.264 encodes are still performed serially. Mac users can access Squeeze as a QuickTime Export Component from within Apple Compressor or Final Cut (Pro or Express), another nice convenience. This is in addition to Squeeze's longstanding integration with Avid systems, and Sorenson Media VP of product development says that the company is in discussions with Adobe and others to add integration with other nonlinear editing tools.

All users will appreciate the new Preset exchange, an online resource that will feature downloadable presets from compression experts like Ben Waggonner and Nate Caplin, and will grow with content as more users upload their presets.

Figure 3. Encoding VP6 files in parallel!

Otherwise, Sorenson reports that encoding speed and quality for most codecs have been improved, but the proof of that pudding is in the encoding. I’ll test Squeeze 6 and include the results in the encoder roundup included in the 2010 Streaming Media Sourcebook.

Finally, Sorenson has also simplified pricing, with only two versions, the complete version for $799, and the Flash-only version for $499. Squeeze 5 users can upgrade to the new version for $199.

[Click here for a video review of Squeeze 6.

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