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Review: The Art of Encoding using Compressor

January, 2006



Review - "The Art of Encoding Using Compressor"
Ripple Training ­ Narrator Brian Gary
DVD-ROM Delivery
14 Chapters, Runtime 2 hours 11 minutes.
Purchase in the lafcpug Store

Review by David A. Saraceno

Compressing video for distribution, we are often reminded, is part art and part science. For most of us, however, knowing which part is which is the real issue. To complicate the process further is Apple's compression application, Compressor that ships without a hard copy manual. Some swear by it, and many swear at it.

Bringing some clarity to the "art and science" of video compression for distribution is Ripple Training's DVD-ROM 14-chapter series entitled "The Art of Encoding using Compressor." This comprehensive narrative teaches by example, and tips using supplied content that ranges from HDV to web compression. A caveat however: the DVD will not explain workarounds to getting Compressor to work. If your issues involve failures to launch Compressor, and other performance problems, wander over to the Apple Knowledge base forum ( and search for solutions there. But if you are interested in learning the full potential and versatility of Compressor, this is your ticket.

The narrative by instructor Brian Gary in this two-plus hour DVD is precise, easy-to-understand, and implemented through an excellent instructional interface. Various Compressor presets for virtually every type of delivery are explained, and demonstrated by Gary using highlighted portions of the Compressor interface. For example, when explaining how to create custom presets for web delivery, the small tabs of the presets are enlarged on screen for easy viewing as Gary explains the process. You aren't guessing at what he is doing, you are seeing it close up.

There are two ways to view the DVD. You can either launch each movie chapter individually, or copy "The Whole" file to your hard drive and move through the tutorials in that matter. I prefer the second approach, because it enabled me to move from chapter to chapter very quickly with the tutorials. In any case, the chapters are both thorough and exhaustive:

What can you learn from this "The Art of Encoding Using Compressor?" The better question is trying to determine if anything was left out. As stated earlier, Compressor ships only with an on line pdf help manual. Many users are understandably unaware of how customizable the application and its presets or templates are. For that information alone, this DVD ROM is easily worth the cost. In addition, Gary shows some capabilities of Compressor that I had no idea existed. For example, the sections on creating low resolution four (4) hour single layer" DVD Screener" output was very helpful. Basic explanation on the differences between 4:1:1 and 4:2:0 color space and the issues associated with each provide a better understanding of compressing NTSC DV to DVD format. But at its basic level, the aid clearly shows not only how to use Compressor, but how to use it to meet your needs. It's really hard to designate any one selling point to this instructional aid, because it covers so many, so well.

This information is so well-presented in both form and the content that I highly recommend Apple include it as part of any further updates to the Final Cut Studio package. If Compressor leaves you the dark, this DVD-ROM will surely show the light. An impressive package. One I keep going back to repeatedly to learn more.

Purchase at the lafcpug store

Copyright ©2006 David A. Saraceno

David A. Saraceno is a motion graphics artist located in Spokane, Washington. He has written for DV Magazine, AV Video, MacHome Journal, and several state and national legal technology magazines. David also moderates several forums on

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