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Old October 18th, 2007, 09:55 PM   #1
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Episode Pro vs. Compressor tests

I've been doing some testing/reviewing of Episode Pro as an alternative to Compressor 3.

Episode's engine is far faster at creating any type of encode than Compressor. For example: what takes Compressor 10 minutes to do - even multithreaded - Episode does in 2 minutes at the same bitrate/quality/frame-rate settings. How or why Episode is more efficient than Compressor is hidden in the mystery of it's encoding engine, but it's flat-out amazing.

Controls on Episode are much easier to read than Compressors painfully small font sizes (which you cannot change - something I seriously wish Apple would address in other apps like Motion and DVDSP4) and the preview window is identical to Compressor's functionality.

The downside unfortunately, and it's a big one, is that MPEG-1/2/4 files from Episode are not compatible with DVDSP4 or Quicktime; there is a known bug that prevents smooth playback or in some cases make the encoded file completely unreadable by QT or DVDSP4. Telestream which owns the Episode engine has been troubleshooting the bug however Apple is lacking in supporting Telestream's efforts to fix it.

If your encoding workflow doesn't include DVD or HD-DVD then Episode would be an amazing benefit especially when you add the Flash encode option. However, to get all the features Episode currently offers you'd have to spend 3/4'ths of what FCS2 costs, and it already comes with Compressor and no DVDS4 issues.

The breif: Currently there is no better encoding engine available - at any price - than Compressor 3 for any Apple-based workflows.
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Old October 20th, 2007, 01:05 PM   #2
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Couldn't agree more, Episode is better than Compressor, (and Squeeze too!)
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Old October 21st, 2007, 12:55 PM   #3
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Actually I didn't say Episode was better, only faster. The actual encode quality between the two is identical, however Compressor does have an edge on audio encoding as it's files are audibly cleaner at the same encode settings - why, I don't know.

The Mac version of Squeeze is very long-in-the-tooth and hasn't had a major update in sometime and therefore wasn't a contender for encoding tests.

Episode has two major flaws/drawbacks, one already discussed and that is the known issue of it's output not being compatible with DVDSP4. Considering that more than 70% of editors using FCS are authoring on DVDSP4 this is a deal-killer. As is the asking price for the Episode Pro with Flash; there's no logic in spending almost $1k for a standalone app - which isn't fully FSC compatible, mind you - when Compressor 3 comes with the entire suite of FC apps and just works. Slower than Episode yes, but who cares if Episode is faster when you can't fully use it's files?

Compressor 2 wasn't very impressive, in fact many people were using home-grown encoders such as BitVice instead of C2. However today, with all the additional features C3 adds - including multi-threading - you absolutely have no better option.

That is until Telestream fixes the bug with DVDSP4 and QT, then it's a whole new ball-game.
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Old October 21st, 2007, 01:54 PM   #4
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There are a few things you can do to speed up compressor such as:

1) If you export your sequence from Final Cut as reference-movie and then load that movie into Compressor, encoding will be faster than if you send it to compressor directly.

2) If you encode to a progressive format, de-select the "Adaptive Details" check box in the "frame controls" tab, this will speed up encoding because compressor can use the de-interlacing algorithms used by Apple's DVD player.
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