Turbo.264 Video Encoder
Turbo.264 Video Encoder
Review by Steve
The application window opens up with a intuitive window showing your video's format choices from the drop down menu, and progress and encoding frame rate with cool looking countdown dials. After setting the format of your choice and clicking on go I don't think you'll have time for a lengthy break. It will be completed before you know it.
I'm one of those types who, once I get into a groove, hate to stop to answer phones or even take a break. You've all been there. You tell your loved one, "I'll just be 15 minutes" and before you know it, 3 hours have gone by. I've always been frustrated by the interruption of my editing workflow whenever I had to stop to render motion graphics or compress projects to DVD. It seems that no matter how often I step up to a new computer, change a video card or add extra ram, there is always some new plug in or motion graphic effect I use that slows things down. And once you are ready to export to Compressor, more time is involved while waiting for the job to get done. How long it takes to encode varies upon the processor speed of your Mac, the size of the video file, the length and complexity of your source video and the amount of video compression required for you to get your desired result.
Elgato Systems has done its best
here to alleviate these interruptions by producing an amazing
new piece of hardware that allows you to continue working while
it is doing its thing. What's more, it does its thing with blinding
The Turbo.264 is designed to convert
your videos using H.264 files for exporting to your iPod, Apple
TV and iPhone. It is slightly larger than a USB thumb drive at
approximately 83mm x 30mm x 12mm in size and, for those using
it on a laptop, a short USB extender cable is supplied providing
you room to plug in on your often crowded Macbook. The big hook
for the Turbo.264 is the incredible speed increase you will experience
when using it. According to the folk at Elgato you will experience
encoding speeds up to 4 times faster on the newer Intel Macs.
I found this to be an understatement and was startled to see
a couple of 5-minute sequences completely encoded in well under
2 minutes. With older Macs, G4s and pre Intel G5s, you will find
the Turbo.264 exponentially quicker.
The Turbo.264 is able to do this
by taking the burden off your computer's CPU and allowing the
Turbo's hefty hardware encoding accelerator to do it for you.
This frees up your processor for other tasks as the Turbo.264
if off loading the processing to the device itself.
The accompanying software is easy
to install, you simply open the disc image and drag it to your
applications folder, and was done in less than a minute. The
video encoder itself plugs into your USB 2.0 port where it sits
and waits until it is needed. Nothing appears on your desktop.
(I was worried, at first, when I didn't see an icon come on)
Once the software is installed and the Turbo.264 is plugged in
you're ready to go. In the Turbo's menu you will also find a
'check for updates', which secures you for the future. Glad they
have this as not every company lets you know when updates can
Encoding can be done either one
at a time or in a batch. I tested both of these methods and failed
to have a single glitch in the process.
If you set the format to the iPod format, the encoder will automatically
drop the converted files into your iTunes for you. I changed
the default preferences to place everything on my desktop which
is my preference for exporting most everything. In the formats
menu there are 2 iPod codecs to choose from, iPod High and iPod
Standard. The iPod High setting was a clear winner resulting
in excellent video and audio quality. In fact, I really couldn't
see a difference between the source material and the encoded
result, it was that good.
On the left is the original 4:3 source clip from Artbeats and the right shows the clip custom edited to 16x9 in the Elgato Turbo.264. The quality of the final image tests your eyes for differences.
The iPod Standard setting did show a softening and smearing of
the image however. Other formats are also offered for use by
Apple TV, iPhone and Sony PSP. For those who have need of custom
settings you have the ability to create them with adjustments
enabled for aspect ratio, size, frame and data rates and widescreen
conversions without the black bars.
Caption: For custom
editing with the Elgato Turbo.264 you have room to move.
My bottom line is that if the Elgato Turbo.264 sounds too good,
too fast or too inexpensive to be true...sorry, it is true. This
is really an exceptional piece of hardware whose speed and quality
will set you back on your heels in surprise the first time you
use it. I have a friend who, when I told her of this, implied
that she was too advanced an editor to use a tool such as this
insisting that because she custom sets most everything, the Turbo.264
couldn't be of any use. Wish she had kept more of an open mind;
she doesn't know what she is missing, nor the time it could save
Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 6 and
underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater
Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater
Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International
Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan
Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver
of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The
Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's
Atlantis production, the History channel's MegaDisaster show
and other networks. Steve is one of the founding organizers of
the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition and leads both underwater
filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions
to Indonesia and the Coco Islands, Costa Rica in 2008, Kenyan
safari in Africa and the Red Sea for 2009, and Truk Lagoon in
Micronesia for 2010. Feel free to contact him if you are interested
in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips. www.worldfilmsandtravel.com
copyright © Steve
This article first appeared on
www.kenstone.net and is reprinted here with permission.
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