started building DVDs for my customers when DVD Studio Pro 2
shipped which included Compressor 1 and A.Pack applications.
While it was great to have this ability, I soon found out that
Compressor had issues. I also admit that, despite having read
several good articles on Compressor, I never really got comfortable
with it, most of my work with Compressor was more of a 'hack'
than a workflow. In fact, after awhile I exported video and audio
separately from my FCP timeline. The audio was moved into A.Pack
and then joined up with the video which was encoded inside DVD
SP. An inelegant workflow at best but it was dependable.
Final Cut Studio shipped with Compressor
2, the A.Pack application now gone, it's function now folded
into Compressor 2. With the problems of Compressor 1 fixed and
the new ability to encode AC3 (Dolby) audio at the same time
as encoding video to Mpeg 2 right inside Compressor, I figured
it was time to start using Compressor properly in my DVD creation
workflow. After all, Compressor's abilities are vastly expanded
with many new codecs available including, High Definition encoding
for both competing HD DVD formats (both use H.264) as well as
Format Conversion, down-converting HD to SD, Mpeg 1 for CDs and
formats for web web distribution and more. Time to learn how
to use Compressor properly.
It would seem that Brian Gary understood
my dilemma when he created his "The Art of Encoding Using
Compressor" tutorial DVD. From the very start of this tutorial
it is quite clear that Brian is a 'compressionist' (grin), it
is obvious that he knows compression and Compressor and his comfort
with this subject is evident, transcending what could be overly
dry and tedious material. In fact, I found this tutorial to be
enjoyable to watch, each lesson is clear and straight forward
with great visuals and not without humor. Brian is an excellent
instructor with a clear and friendly delivery. He delivery as
he starts us at the very beginning of this subject by explaining
the basics of compression, acquainting us with both the terminology
and theory of compression before moving on to teaching us the
'ins and outs' of Compressor.
'The Art of Encoding Using Compressor'
covers an enormous amount of ground, starting with the most basic
concepts it then, lesson by lesson, covers almost every facet
of Compressor and its abilities. This tutorial is broken down
into 14 chapters, shown below, then each chapter is broken down
into smaller lessons. The chapters in this tutorial are of two
types. 'Quickstart', which is intended to introduce you to the
process and get you up and running quickly and 'Advanced' which
delves more deeply into the subject matter with more detailed
· Getting Started
· iDVD Quickstart
· Compressor Quickstart
· Web/CD ROM Quickstart
· Jobs and Batches
· Advanced DVD Encoding
· Dolby 2.0 Encoding
· HD DVD Encoding
· 24P to DVD Workflow
· Advanced Web and CD-ROM Encoding
· Low Bit Rate DVD and VCDs
· Advanced Format Conversion
· Watermarks and Overlays
· Using Droplets
Tutorials on DVD can be delivered in two different formats,
DVD video (the type that plays on a TV) and DVD ROM (the type
that plays on a computer). This tutorial from Ripple Training
is the DVD ROM type and for me this is the better format for
learning. Aside from the fact that the on screen movie quality
is higher, I learn best by having both the tutorial and Compressor
open at the same time. This enables me to watch a bit of the
lesson and then do the process in Compressor, checking my results
with that of the tutorial. Navigating around this DVD ROM tutorial
is almost effortless using the QuickTime Player controls and
playhead to scrub back and forth to replay a section. In addition
there is the chapter selection drop-down menu which enables you
to go to a specific chapter or section with just a click. 'The
Art of Encoding Using Compressor' is broken down into individual
QT movies but additionally, you can watch 'The Whole Enchilada'
QT movie which contains the entire tutorial.
I viewed 'The Whole Enchilada' from start
to finish, getting a general feel for the material contained
in the tutorial. Then I went back and worked with the individual
lessons that I wanted to learn. Included on the DVD ROM is Practice
Media video in both the DV and HDV format so that you actually
have video to compress as you work through the exercises.
Encoding is very technical stuff and does not have the same excitement
as say 'multi-cam' editing found in FCP 5. However, there is
no point in doing great work in FCP if you can not deliver your
product in the size, quality and format that you need for your
customer. 'The Art of Encoding Using Compressor' is for those
who are just getting started, but it is equally for those of
us who have some experience with the application. Things have
changed in Compressor 2, new features and codecs have been added.
There is a lot for even the experienced user to learn. Brian
makes the learning process a pleasure. He starts with the general,
demystifies the technical, and shows us step by step the proper
process (workflow) to achieve the desired results. I was surprised
by the breadth of the subject matter covered in this tutorial,
even including lessons covering iDVD and Low Bit Rate DVD and
VCDs. One subject that I wanted to learn about, Qmaster (the
ability to have more than one Mac encoding a file at the same
time) is not included in the tutorial. I wish it had been, but
this tutorial does seem to cover everything else. The production
values of 'The Art of Encoding Using Compressor' are very high,
the on screen video and audio is excellent. The Compressor interface,
menus and settings shown in the lessons are clear and readable.
The lessons have an even comfortable pacing, Brian is a very
'The Art of Encoding Using Compressor'
by Brian Gary is outstanding. I learned a great deal from it,
have a much better understanding of the processes involved and
I now have a Compressor workflow, no longer 'hacking' my way
through my encoding chores.
They say that 'Ignorance is Bliss', this
may be true in some cases, but I can promise you that it's not
true when it comes to compression.
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