In this article about Microsoft Expression Encoder 2 I’ll assume you’re using the free Express version as a simple file conversion utility, and you’re heading to the internet with your new file. Other articles will cover features such as adding leaders, trailers or overlays.
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I’ll start with an MOV file, knowing that Windows and the Expression Encoder 2 don’t install the codecs needed to handle such a file. It’s an Apple video file type that doesn’t work in Windows Movie Maker, but if that’s where you want to use it, a file conversion is needed. Fortunately, getting the codec is easy.
You may be familiar with iTunes… who isn’t? I use it daily as I work on my Vista laptop at Barnes & Noble. As I’m typically doing video work and want to listen to internet radio at the same time, iTunes is the perfect player. Although Windows Media Player (WMP) can play the same radio stations, it automatically changes its focus to any video file I double-click on, which turns off the radio station. iTunes continues along unaffected by WMP doing the video viewing.
Here’s the link to get iTunes.
What has that to do with the codec for the MOV file? The installation of iTunes includes an option to include Apple’s Quick Time Player, which includes a codec to play .MOV files. Installing it lets the Expression Encoder 2 handle MOV input files.
With the codec in place and the Expression Encoder 2 open, the steps to do a conversion are:
Use File > Import and drill down to the file to, or drag and drop the MOV file using your file manager.
The Encoder will quickly analyze the file before it appears in the preview monitor. It took just a few seconds for my 2 hr test file. [figure 1]
In the Output tab at the right, I’m going with Job Output settings to encode the new file with the same file name as the source file and located in my c:\Temp folder. [figure 1]
In the Encode tab, use the drop-down list to select the most appropriate quality setting. 3 of the 6 choices are for streaming files and the other 3 are for comparable Web Server files. If your target audience has good broadband connections, use the highest quality choice.
The limited number of choices in the list is the single biggest reason for not using the Express version of the Encoder when you’re doing a file conversion heading for a video editor. Features of the Express version don’t include a DV-AVI choice or custom WMV profiles for higher bitrate choices.
On a positive note, the Video Profile section of the Encode tab [figure 3] lets you easily set custom dimensions and crop the video.
Back to the Output tab. The Job Output drop-down list is all about producing Silverlight packages. If a Silverlight player is your end goal, nothing beats the ease of making ready-to-go packages with the Expression Encoder 2. [figure 4]
The Encoder uses the full power of the CPU, generating maximum heat. My laptops too often reach the tripping point and totally shut down due to overheating. Just before pressing the ‘Encode’ button, I use the Task Manager to turn off one of the two CPUs. The laptop runs cooler while I continue using it for other things such as writing this article. [figure 5]
Press the Encode button at the bottom and sit back while Expression Encoder 2 does the conversion. The status indicator shows the remaining time to finish [figure 6]. It took 9 hours to convert my 2 hour test file.
The process ends with a good quality wmv file or Silverlight package, ready to upload to your server or internet service.