Choosing an encoder

Content in this category details the operation and quality of streaming video encoding tools.

Squeeze 5.1's H.264 Encoding Quality Dramatically Improved

In addition to the deinterlacing issue discussed here, Squeeze 5.0 also suffered two H.264 encoding problems. One related to very ugly key frames like those shown in Figure 1. On the left, you see the poor quality frames incident to Squeeze 5.0. Specifically, this is the first frame after a scene change, and you can see that Squeeze didn’t handle it well. Not only was this frame of poor quality, those immediately subsequent in the file were also pretty ugly as well. It took the better part of a year, but as you can see on the right, Sorenson got it fixed in version 5.1, available for downloading now at

Sorenson Boosts Squeeze 5.1's Deinterlacing Quality

If you work with interlaced source footage, the quality of your deinterlacing filter is one of the key components to final compressed quality. Unfortunately for Sorenson Squeeze users, the quality of Squeeze's deinterlacing filters prior to version 5.1 was subpar. If you knew about the problem, you could deinterlace in your editor when producing an intermediate file and avoid the problem. Otherwise, your overall quality was potentially degraded by jaggies like that shown in Figure 1.

Test Drive: Telestream Episode Pro

telestream_episode_pro_200.jpgTelestream Episode Pro has emerged as a top performer on the Mac, and last December, Telestream released a Windows version. It’s an affordable tool that all HD producers on both platforms need to be aware of, so I’m devoting this month’s Affordable HD to a review of this product. In this first installment, I’ll review the interface and discuss I/O, the new watch-folder functionality and the Preview window. Next time, I’ll detail performance and output quality and compatibility.

2009 Encoder Shootout

Wow! Another year has passed. And so it’s time for another round of encoding tool updates. In this roundup, I’ll compare the output quality, speed, and codec-related feature set of the most prominent crop of sub-$1,000 encoders and provide the results in report-card form. For the most part, the best in each category rated an A, the worst a C, and the rest B’s. Though this will vary by the encoding tool and category, a C grade should be a concern if you’re currently using or plan to use the encoding tool. Where a feature is significantly limited in a particular encoder, I've noted it in the tables with asterisks and explained the issue in the text.

ProRes on Windows

If you edit on both Mac and Windows workstations using Final Cut Pro and Adobe CS4, running ProRes on Windows can be a great capability. Read all about it here.

Choosing your Streaming Encoding Tool

Once you’ve chosen a codec, you have to choose an encoding tool. In this column, I’ll outline the codec-specific and automation-related questions you should ask before using or buying an encoding tool, and then describe the three levels of encoding tools.