Squeeze 6 – No, But Yes

After a few weeks testing with Sorenson Squeeze 6, I can say that I will upgrade my licenses.  I can’t say that it’s worth the money charged for an upgrade, and I’m not interested in the new “features.”  They fixed one bug that had made me crazy with the Main Concept H.264 codec.  They’ve zipped up the speed quite a bit.  Basically, when you have multiple licenses of a software and they decide that a bug fix should be a new version, your choices are to upgrade or let it pass and buy into something else.

Granted, I have Anystream Agility, Digital Rapids, Procoder and Flix Pro.  But I’ve put a few years into Squeeze and I still believe that it could be a Professional Level video encoding software in the future.

This is a continuation of my first run of tests for some specific problems:  see previous post to get caught up.

My testing was very specific to what we do, so YMMV.

Testing Runs

  • Source was Norah Jones “Chasing Pirates” downsized from an HDCAM capture.  YUY2 AVI.
  • Profile was three VP6 FLVs, three WM9 and four H.264 Main Concept.  All 2 pass.

The source file was exactly as I wanted it.  I don’t trust cropping, resizing, deinterlacing, inverse-telecine, gamma correction (or anything else you can name) to encoding software filters.  If you’re used to using Avisynth, you’ll know what I mean.

First speed run with Squeeze 5 – 2:48 video took ~51 minutes to encode.  I had Squeeze set to four Simultaneous Compressions (Maximum).  Squeeze was able to do the three WMV files at once, but could not do more than one VP6 or MP4 at a time.  About half of the 51 minutes was watching Squeeze slog through the last three H.264 encodes.

Next up, Squeeze 6 – the same 2:48 video took ~22:30 minutes on Squeeze 6.  VP6 is now multi-threaded but Main Concept is not, i.e. no simultaneous compressions.

Knowing what the “support” staff at Sorenson would say, I tried this with the Sorenson H.264 codec.  That did do simutaneous encodes but…the whole thing took longer.  Leading to my next test:

Main Concept H.264 vs. Sorenson H.264 – doing only the H.264 encodes, here’s the problem:  Sorenson H.264, running four encodes at a time, took 14 minutes.  Main Concept, running one at a time, took 6 minutes (with CABAC!).

Watch Folders – using Watch Folders should be a part of any Professional encoding software.  Squeeze has had them for quite a while.  Very often you had to use them.  If you tried to import 20 or 25 sources into Squeeze 5 it would (I assume) run out of memory and crash.  So on to the Watch Folder.  The problem there was: no simultaneous encodes.  Each file grinds through each encoding profile separately.  Using projects with up to 14 profiles, this can be a drag.  Many projects took three times as long to complete.

Sad to say, it’s exactly the same in Squeeze 6.  My hopes dashed again.

Conclusions

Improved:

  • Speed boost can be up to and over double.
  • fixed small bug with Main Concept sticking on the last few frames

Still the same:

  • Cannot create hinted QuickTime H.264 MOV
  • No support for Avisynth
  • Main Concept H.264 – no simutaneous encodes
  • Watch Folders – no simutaneous encodes.

If you are encoding a lot to a lot of different codecs, I do recommend that you buy Squeeze 6.  If you are using Squeeze 5, and have been happy with it, it’s probably not worth the upgrade.  For me, I’ll wait a bit for them to iron out any bugs that I haven’t run into yet, but it seems inevitable.

Sorenson Squeeze 6 – maybe…

I’ve spent the last few years trying to prove (at least to myself) that Sorenson Squeeze Pro could be used professionally.  I initially matched it up against two licenses of Anystream Agility (R.I.P. – too expensive, not enough features).  Lately I’ve been running it against two licenses of Digital Rapids.

The benefits are obvious.  Systems like Agility and Digital Rapids can cost tens of thousands to get up and running, plus the added license fees for various muxers and codecs.  Getting five Squeeze licenses running on the latest hardware should run ~$2500 each.  That, of course, leaves out quite a few features and advantages of Digital Rapids; but that was my thought process.

Sorenson Squeeze Enterprise Edition

Sorenson seemed to be thinking along the same lines at one time.  A few years ago there was a lot of talk about their “Enterprise Edition,” that should have taken over the world by now.  Can’t say what happened, but they aren’t talking about it any more.  There seems to be some version of it available via BitTorrent, and maybe someone can tell me what that’s about.

The Enterprise Edition would have made a lot of sense for me.  Five licenses on five boxes all centrally controlled from my desktop would be fine.  Instead, I’m sending source files out the the five boxes and gathering up the results for distrubution.  Sort of a “Manual Enterprise Edition.”

Any Help?

I’ve had a lot of problems with Squeeze.  Right from the start, the lack of support for Avisynth is almost a killer.  I know, I know, “use MAKEAVIs to create a dummy AVI for Squeeze,” but have you ever tried that for 100 files?  Another constant problem was that Squeeze was simply not “bulletproof.”  Left to run with 20 or 30 files and 10 or 12 encodes, Squeeze 4.5 would usually fail, and not tell why; just no Squeeze in the morning and no word on what happened.  This seems to have cleared up with 5.1.

Other problems are small and hard to get at.  I soon gave up on their Support, their bug reports and especially their User Forums.  I’ve never been able to talk to anyone there who knows more about Squeeze than I do.   Most of their Forum watchers seem completely untrained and will usually point any question towards their FAQ.

Does anyone ever use Forums anyway.  Ask a question, then come back day after day looking for the answer.  I don’t have the patience for it.  I think that streamingmedia.com‘s recent attempt to move their very busy email lists to an onsite Forum should be a glaring example to all companies.  People want to have their list interaction come to them, they will not go to it.

Squeeze 6

I’ve been testing Squeeze 6 for a week now.   They’ve fixed a bug I found with Main Concept H.264.  They seem to have tried to fix one of my major complaints with Squeeze:  unable to create a hinted H.264 QuickTime file.  See my previous post for more about that.  I’m sad to report that they didn’t fix it.  I can still create an H.264 using Main Concept and export the hinted file via QuickTime.  They tried to put that into the software, but all it produces is a pixelated mess.

I’ve tried one of my largest profiles with Squeeze 6.  It all worked, so that’s fine.  I’ll time it the next time through to test their “Sorenson 6 is much faster” claims.  Other bug to test:  no concurrent encodes using watch folders.

I’d like to think there was a good reason for this to be Sorenson 6 and not Sorenson 5.2.  Haven’t found one yet, but more next week.