In this big universe of computers and mobile devices, video format incompatibilities can be a looming problem for multimedia learning professionals.
You might not be sure how to convert MOV, MP4 and AVI to FLV. Perhaps you’re wondering how to deal with video for Apple devices. And then there’s the issue of video acronyms that sound like diseases.
As confusion sets in, it’s good to keep in mind that video transcoding—converting video files from one format to another—is really an easy four-step process. See below.
The Production Tool of Choice
There are many transcoders out there ranging from free to high-end. The problem with free encoders is the lack of control over settings, meaning less control of the video and audio quality. Also, some free downloads contain malware. If you’re looking for professional quality video conversion, then you should know about Sorensen Squeeze.
A video professional once told me that if everyone found out about Sorensen Squeeze, he’d go out of business. In my opinion, this is the best professional tool to use when you have a consistent amount of video conversion work to handle for multimedia learning. Also, there are versions for Windows and Mac computers.
When you first open the program, you’re welcomed with a set of video tutorials to speed up getting started. The user interface is clean and easy to understand. (see below)
The left column of the screen has sections for selecting your input (importing and capturing video); choosing the presets (video formats at varied data rates); filters (like black and white or sepia), publishing options (YouTube, Amazon S3, Sorensen 360) and notifications.
On the right, is a video window for playback and for marking where you want a video segment to start and end. Below that the list of jobs display. You can encode multiple videos at one time. You need to carefully select the jobs as there are global settings and individual video settings.
Presets: Format Tab
Much of the power of this production tool is in the Presets. With the Format tab selected (on the left), you get an alphabet soup list of formats. Then within each format are a full range of quality options for various bit rates. You can also download additional presets.
Of course you won’t initially know what to select. But with a little experimentation, you’ll be rambling about the quality of “1200kbps” in no time. You can apply these presets globally to all the videos in the list or just to individual videos.
The Workflow Tab and Mobile Learning
The Workflow tab is new to me and it’s particularly intriguing in light of mobile learning.
It lists additional presets for specific video processes, including: Broadcast (HDTV), Apple i-Devices, Apple/Android/Connected Devices Hybrid, Digital Signage, Gaming (Wii), Disc (Blu-ray Authoring and DVD), Editing, Misc (too many to list), and Web (includes Progressive Download).
You Get Granular Control
You really can have granular control with Squeeze. When you select a Preset and apply it, you can also get in there and change the video, audio, filters and other settings. Although beginners may not want to delve into this from the start, advanced users will want to partake.
When your settings and output directory are selected, you then click the Squeeze It! button to begin encoding your output files. You will see an estimation of the time required to encode your file in the Job window. When the file is finished encoding, you can click the thumbnail image of the video to view your output.
Documentation and Technical Support
Although I thought the documentation was a little light, there are tutorials and an active forum where questions are thoughtfully answered by Sorensen Tech Support.
Versions and Pricing
There are two versions of Sorensen Squeeze—Regular and Pro. As of June 2012, they are priced at $650 and $900 U.S. respectively.
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