The new version of Sorenson Media’s Squeeze video encoding app has new features and improved codecs. It also allows you to output footage at higher frame rates than the source clips you’re importing. However, and just like any other transcoding app currently available, there’s no support for creating footage from DNG files such as the ones your Blackmagic Design camera will output. The best news of the day is that Squeeze Desktop 11 does create movies from still images and is again a bit faster than its predecessor.
Squeeze Desktop 11 Pro has a plethora of new features of which support for sequenced still image files — JPEGs and TIFFs — is one of my favourites. I tried it out with a short time lapse of a spinning top and it works like a charm. It’s nicely configurable too, with the ability to set your own frame rate and more.
Setting your own frame rate is now possible for genuine footage as well. In Sorenson Media’s latest version of their video encoding application, the ability to export your output file at a frame rate greater than your source frame rate and it’s really simple to do. It’s an option in the context menu of the original clip. You can select up to 240fps. The frame rate speed-up is done by strategically duplicating frames. This should allow you to meet your file requirements while maintaining the quality of your video, according to Sorenson, but there are a few caveats. I had a 60fps clip that I sped up to 240fps and the resulting video at that speed was choppy. With a less extreme speed-up it does work relatively well, but it’s not something I would recommend.
The problem with Squeeze’s method is that it only duplicates frames. It doesn’t try to make the transitions smoother by adding optical flow blur, etc.
By the way, that context menu I was talking about? That’s the “Inspect Source Info” menu option. That’s new as well. When selected, it gives you more information on your source file, how Squeeze is reading it, what Reader is being used, Frame Size, Audio Sample Rate and number of Channels. And some of that information — such as the frame rate, aspect ratio and colour space of the transcoded file can be altered from the ensuing dialogue.
A more important new feature in my opinion, is Squeeze 11’s support for .MOV source files that contain multiple audio tracks. The new version allows you to encode those tracks when exporting to MOV or MP4 output files. You can use this for multi-language tracks and cinematic audio effects.
As with almost every new version of Squeeze Desktop, version 11 has updated codecs. More specifically, Squeeze 11 now uses updated x264, H.264, VP9 and x265 codecs. This seems to result in faster video encoding. In fact, Squeeze got faster at these than any of its competitors.
Squeeze 10 introduced MXF output and used the OP-Atom operational pattern, designed to address the specific needs of an NLE. Sorenson Squeeze 11 has added support for exporting MXF with an additional OP1a operational pattern. This operational pattern may include multiple tracks of audio and video that are interleaved into a single file, creating a self contained file. OP1a files can be exported by creating an MXF preset and selecting one of the three XDCAM Format Constraints. I haven’t tested this feature as I no longer have Avid’s Media Composer to check this out.
In Squeeze Desktop 11 Pro 64-bit support has been expanded. That is necessary to help your system handle the increased memory needs for processing content of these new frame sizes and data rates. However, 64-bit encoding will increase the encode time so it should only be used when necessary if you are worried about a job’s throughput. It’s therefore implemented as an optional switch in the settings for each output codec that supports 4K — e.g. ProRes does not have this switch as it’s not an output codec.
Squeeze Desktop 11 also has high bit-depth dithering and offers three methods: Truncate, Triangular or Bayer Ordered. Dithering is required when you are working with high bit-depth colour (e.g. 10-bit colour) and exporting as 8-bit colour. Dithering will automatically smooth over the colour variations and banding that occurs during this conversion.
New to Squeeze 11 is a Text Watermark filter, which gives you a simple way to quickly watermark your output content and make sure viewers know who encoded or created the file — or better yet: making it harder to infringe on your copyright.
The Squeeze Desktop 11 Pro video encoding application has enough new functionality to justify an upgrade price. It’s just a pity Squeeze doesn’t extend the ability to turn your RAW DNG files from your Blackmagic Design Cinema camera into video footage. Being a programming noob it looks to me it can’t be that difficult to do if you do deliver such a well thought-out timelapse-to-video capability.
Squeeze Desktop 11 costs about €657.50. AN upgrade from version 10 Pro sets you back about €175.