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Changing Shape: Compressor Review

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/4/2011

Video compression and conversion software is required for digital producers, and some are just better than others.

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    Switching Sides

    The digital revolution has changed the idea of distribution platforms from a physical design to purely data files, each somewhat different than the other. Whether or not you want to get your movie posted to an online viewing site, ready to install on your iPod, or put on a DVD, you are going to have to both change the file type and shrink it so that it will fit somewhere. There are a number of applications that can do this, especially with a quick internet search, but there are few that are actually reliable and will give you enough options to make it worthwhile. Apple’s Compressor, which comes stock their flagship Final Cut Studio, is the best compression software available to consumers.

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    Though Compressor can be used for any file, it is best when used with Final Cut Pro. Here you can just decide to Export Using Compressor when you are ready to output your film, which will then open the program. Here you are asked to set a location and file name for the compressed software. In the below window you are then able to decide which type of audio and video compression you would like. This is where you made a choice as to the quality you want versus the size of the eventual file. No matter what decision you make the result is much clearer and more appropriate than almost any comparable software. What makes this even better is that if you are not that educated about the specific numbers and time ratios of video encoding there are format specific options you can choose. For example, if you are trying to compress the file so that it can be added to a DVD using a program like DVD Studio Pro then you can select one of the DVD options. There are several based on how long your film is, each compressing your film according to its length so it remains a comparable size. This makes it so that your film will be able to fit on almost any DVD. There are numbers of these, including ones for iPods and iPhone, which are difficult to find on even the best conversion programs.

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    You do not have to use this after editing, and can actually compress any open video file. All you have to do is open Compressor and then open the file you want to alter in the program. No other software could be this simple, or give you these kinds of options. Along with this is the option for Batch Monitor, which lets you watch the progress of the compression as it is happening. There is even a function that lets it appear as video.

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    The Best

    Compressor does tend to take a little longer than others and does have problems when the computer does not have enough available memory, but it is still the top of the game for this type of application. Let this stand out as one of the main reasons to save your money for the newest Final Cut Studio.

Apple Post-Production Software

Here are profiles and reviews on some of Apple's best post-production and non-linear video editing software.
  1. What is Live Type?
  2. Final Cut Pro - Today's Hottest Editing Software
  3. Best of the Bare Bones: Final Cut Express
  4. Changing Shape: Compressor Review
  5. Pressing Discs: DVD Studio Pro Review