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Sorenson Puts the Squeeze on Video

Film to Video

I tested a beta copy of Squeeze 3 Compression Suite on a Pentium III-based computer running Microsoft Windows 98 (Sorenson representatives say the company will release an Apple Macintosh version later this quarter). I put Squeeze through its paces by compressing an eight-minute clip from the 1966 movie, The Wrong Box, but the software can compress any length video.

To make a comparison between two-pass Squeeze and the commonly used one-pass QuickTime 6, I used the increasingly popular MPEG-4 output format. I compressed the digital video file in QuickTime using the built-in MPEG-4 encoder. The result was a 21-MB file with video compressed to 256 Kbps at 320x240 pixels and 30 frames per second, and audio using AAC/mono at 96 Kbps. Next I encoded the original digital video using Squeeze at the same settings. When finished, Squeeze had created a 18.7-MB file--15 percent smaller than QuickTime's.

Speed vs. Quality

• Excellent video quality.

• Supports MOV, MP4, WMV, RM.
• Loaded with compression options.

• Takes time to compress at high quality.
• Selected output options can quickly clutter the interface.

The quality difference in the video produced by two-pass Squeeze as compared with one-pass compression tools is so great, Squeeze is in a class by itself. On-screen movement doesn't have the expected blockiness. And the text in the output was sharper--it had cleaner edges than that produced by QuickTime. For text-heavy video, this can mean the difference between an engaged audience and a group of staffers feigning interest while messaging each other from their laptops. Although Squeeze performs two-pass encoding by default, you can turn off this setting if you have a rush job. Unfortunately, the resulting quality would be closer to what you'd get with one-pass QuickTime.

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