Who’s the fastest and best encoder in the land?

EditReady, Compressor 4.2.2, Episode 7 Pro or Squeeze Desktop 10 Pro? Or something completely different?

It’s been a while since EditReady was first released. Since then I’ve only used Squeeze and Episode. I have them on my machine and they’re industrial workhorses so why would I choose something else? Speed could be a significant factor and quality of output of course. I decided to try them all with a GoPro HERO4 UHD clip and the results sort of surprised me.

I used two MP4 clips from a HERO4. Frame resolution was set at UHD in both cases. Clip length for the first was 01:58 and 00:44 for the second. I transcoded to Apple ProRes 422 (HQ). The encoding machine still is the iMac i5/3.2GHz from mid-2011 with 16GB RAM.

encoding app editready

Before I give you the results, let me tell you a bit of my renewed experiences with EditReady. First of all: it still is the best looking transcoding app besides Compressor 4.2.2. It looks smashing. The latest version also comes with strong features. It now encodes to DNxHD (Low/Medium/High and 444), ProRes 422 (Lt, Proxy, HQ and common), ProRes 444. It also rewraps with no transcoding being done and you can create your own custom encoder, e.g. to change audio encoding.

EditReady 1.4 can join clips and separate clips if it finds them joined as well. And there are options: applying a LUT, resizing the frame, adjusting the frame rate and removing unused audio tracks. It also offers advanced options for H.264 encoding. In short, EditReady has become a powerhouse in its own right and it touts using the original Apple ProRes codec in contrast to some of its competitors.

encoding app editready

In addition, EditReady has another trump card up its sleeve if the above doesn’t convince you: it integrates seamlessly with ScopeBox 3.5.1, which I am about to review. With ScopeBox you can view a clip’s colour balance, audio performance, etc. — in realtime, as if you were in your NLE. I suppose I don’t need to explain the benefits of having a fully customisable RGB parade, vectorscope, waveform, YCbCr parade, histogram, channel plot, HML balance, audio meter, surround meter and a BIG timecode window at your disposal before you start encoding.

Encoding speed tests

While a clip that’s been encoded with EditReady has the same picture quality as a clip encoded with Squeeze, Compressor or Episode — at least, I couldn’t tell the difference — it does differ dramatically in the area of encoding speed to ProRes. I didn’t try the other codecs, but I imagine it’s very fast regardless of the codec you’re using.

And now, without further ado, the results. All encoding settings across applications were set to be identical.

EditReady finished encoding the test clips in 6 minutes at a data rate of 721 Mbps.

Sorenson Media’s Squeeze Desktop 10 Pro took 9 minutes and 39 seconds. Its output had a slightly higher data rate of 726 Mbps.

Squeeze Desktop 11 Pro, however, did it even faster at 8 minutes sharp. The output quality was identical to Squeeze 10’s.

I set Telestream’s Episode 7 Pro at Priority 4 and let it encode, using my one processor with four cores. It finished the job in 11 minutes with a data rate of 706 Mbps.

Apple’s own Compressor 4.2.2 didn’t fair better, finishing the job in 11 minutes. Its data rate was 721 Mbps.

But guess what was even faster than all of the apps above? Recording the media with an Atomos Ninja Blade or Ninja Assassin to ProRes or DNxHD! That was finished in zero seconds.

Conclusion

If you need really advanced settings or a thumbnail JPEG, for example, and you don’t need to encode dozens of clips in one go, then Squeeze 10 is your best bet. But even the Desktop Pro version isn’t cheap and EditReady is faster still and can handle a good number of clips, just like Squeeze.

editready and scopebox

If you need to encode dozens and dozens of clips a day and you need to transcode to multiple volumes, different codecs and from multiple media the fastest possible, then Episode 7 Pro or the Engine version is what you’ll need. For a dozen or less clips, Episode is not the fastest, but it does offer a myriad of parameters to set. However, an Episode licence is rather expensive as the application targets serious production environments and comes with the robustness and scalability to match.

Compressor is good, isn’t expensive but is slow. As EditReady uses the same original codec, comes with ScopeBox integration and only costs around €44.50, I think you’ll have to agree with me it’s the better deal.

The best, however, is to record straight to a recorder that can handle your codec.

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