Testing Squeeze 8.5 Pro for speed

With the last upgrade, Sorenson Media made Squeeze a whole lot faster. Buyers also gain access to a 5GB chunk of the Sorenson 360 service for an indefinite period of time.

Not a year has passed since Sorenson Media released Squeeze 8. Squeeze 8 was no slouch and it was the first transcoding product to output to Avid’s DNxHD format as a ready-to-use folder complete with the property lists and metadata Avid’s Media Composer needs to work with DNxHD files.

But Squeeze 8 was slower than arch-rival Episode 6.2.x and then there was the Sorenson 360 online approval and publishing service, which cost money — and as we know, if it must be paid, nobody seems interested these days.

IT Enquirer rating

9.5/10
URL: sorensonmedia.com

Pros
  • speed
  • DNxHD presets are ready for immediate use in Avid MC
  • 5GB free 360 account
Cons
  • some OS X software interferes with Squeeze’s engine
Price (approx.): €511.00

Now we have Squeeze 8.5 and it’s faster than previous versions. It accomplishes this feat by splitting up the encoding process into chunks — as many as you have processors or cores — and then re-assembling the whole lot at the end of the process. This works very well, but there are caveats.

Some software that runs in the background — Typinator, Little Snitch, Hazel — seems to interfere with Squeeze 8.5’s speed boosting algorithms. The interference results in transcoding times that actually take longer than with version 8. I turned off these three apps and immediately saw what all the fuss was about: Squeeze 8.5 can be as fast as Telestream’s Episode, although not faster unless you buy server engines.

A couple of examples of transcoding with Squeeze 8.5 on an iMac i5/3.1GHz with 16MB RAM and an eSATA LaCie 4Big connected via the LaCie Thunderbolt adapter:

  • An 11 sec. AVCHD clip transcoded to DNxHD 220 in 19 seconds.
  • An 11:58 min MP4 clip from a GoPro set at 1080/25p transcoded to ProRes 422HQ in 14:35 minutes.
  • An 07:33 min ProRes 422HQ clip from a Ninja set at 720/50p transcoded to BluRay 24fps H.264/AC3 in 16:20 minutes.

All test clips were from a driving car with lots of motion.

Squeeze 8.5. also sees a free 5GB Sorenson 360 account thrown in for good measure. The 360 account is targeted at showing customers your footage before you actually finish production. It’s a great service, the site works really well for this purpose, and the free part makes it all the more exciting. If 5GB isn’t enough — for most larger producers it won’t be — you can upgrade to 15GB and more for a relatively low price per month.

In my opinion, the quality that you can get out of Squeeze always has been top-of-the-bill. Squeeze 8.5 adds speed, free cloud space and a number of presets that allow you to resume work on a clip more quickly (like the DNxHD settings). Those features put Squeeze 8.5 at the very top of the transcoding software market.

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