Encoding/transcoding app Episode 7 has been released a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been testing it with a large number of various clips and it’s faster, can now handle 4K footage and supports a larger number of formats, including DNxHD, DNxHR, DVCPro HD and JPEG2000. Naming a storage device was previously only possible via the Command Line Interface. In Episode 7 you can do this through the GUI as well. Finally, you can now map audio channels in one area of the UI.
I tested Episode Pro. I tried it first with a 2.7K GoPro file and that went brilliant. I then threw a Panasonic GH4 4K file at the app and again, it performed without a flaw. Most presets are for 1080 and 4K. For the 2.7K file I had to create a workflow myself, which wasn’t hard. I was impressed with the speed of encoding. The previous version I reviewed was the Episode 6 Engine version that has the Split-and-Stitch capability. That one was fast due to the built-in encoding load distribution across machines on your network. I couldn’t see much difference with Episode 7 Pro’s “normal” processing times, except perhaps when I loaded five or more clips. When I did, the Engine version’s Split-and-Stitch feature showed its usefulness fully.
Episode 7 supports DNxHD and DNxHR. I couldn’t properly evaluate the latter, but I could compare the former with the way Squeeze 10.1 supports DNxHD and it couldn’t be more different. Squeeze Pro encodes DNxHD by creating a folder containing AAC, XML and MOV files, while Episode 7 creates a MOV or MXF container. The Squeeze method allows you to import the transcoded files without Avid Media Composer having to transcode again, but if you want to import the Squeeze generated folder, you’ll have to follow a specific workflow. With Episode 7’s approach, that workflow isn’t necessary, as Avid’s latest Media Composer versions read MXF natively.
All of the generated MXF files could be read with Telestream’s brilliant Switch 2 quality control app. What did strike me with the Avid encoded files — with both Squeeze and Episode — was that a tiny bit of contrast was added compared to the original footage.
The Named Storage feature allows you to define a storage location, such as a SAN, with a user-configurable name so that the same physical location can be used across Mac and Windows platforms even though the local path to that storage is different on each machine. Named Storage can also be used within a cluster to permit access to files by multiple machines of either platform belonging to the cluster, but that’s an Engine feature and I had a Pro licence.
Especially for Engine licensees, Named Storage will be a more efficient way to access storage because it is a direct path and bypasses the I/O Server in a cluster, helping to prevent the I/O Server from becoming a bottleneck.
Finally, the audio channel mapping tool is self-explanatory and gives you the flexibility to map audio channels and tracks either to standard output formats or to custom channels per your requirements.