October 17, 2011

Compressor 4 Fast Forward Tutorial
Ripple Training - $29.99

By Ken Stone

Okay, call me crazy but I actually like Compressor. I have been using Compressor since it first shipped and while the interface could use a little work, I have found it to be a very powerful app and critical to my day to day workflow. As most of you know, when Apple shipped FCP X, they provided us with a new version of Compressor. Compressor 4 looks the same as the old version and works in the same manner as the old, but the new version has hooks for FCP X. You can not use Compressor 3.5, the old version, with FCP X. Additionally, You need the new version of Compressor to work with the new version of Motion 5.

As I said, I'm very comfortable with Compressor, but when Ripple Training shipped their Compressor 4 tutorial, I decided to take a look for two reasons. First, I wanted to see if anything had changed with Compressor 4, but also because I wanted to take a refresher course.

If you have read any of my reviews of Ripple Training tutorials, you'll know that I have always liked the fact that the production values are consistently 'top drawer', and the Compresor 4 Fast Forward Tutorial is no exception. The on screen video clearly and properly demonstrates the lessons, often zooming in to show detail. The Compressor interface is well explored and explained, and Steve Martin is an excellent host, the pacing of the content of each lesson is comfortable and delivered in an understandable and friendly manner.

Compressor is all about delivery, publishing content to Apple devices, DVD, Blu-Ray Disc, and the Web (even HTTP Streaming). Compressor also does standards conversion (NTSC to PAL/PAL to NTSC), codec conversions, frame resizing and retiming (frame rate) and even deinterlacing. Compressor can also employ Optical flow technology borrowed from 'Shake' and known as 'Frame Controls' in Compressor, which produce the highest quality conversions of video.

First we are taken on a tour of the interface with its five windows; the Batch window, the Viewer, Settings, Inspector and the History window, shown below.

As Steve tells us early on, working in Compressor involves three steps, import the media, applying a target, and submitting the job, all three of these tasks are thoroughly cover in this tutorial.

This tutorial is broken into 19 lessons.

  1. - Exploring the Interface
  2. - Window Layouts
  3. - Batch Templates
  4. - Publishing Discs
  5. - HTTP Live Streaming
  6. - Core Compressor Workflow
  7. - Batch Encoding
  8. - Settings & Destinations
  9. - The Share Monitor
  10. - Automating with Droplets
  11. - Job Actions
  12. - Frame Controls
  13. - Filters
  14. - Geometry Settings
  15. - Test Clip Workflows
  16. - Apple ProRes
  17. - Advanced Output
  18. - The Laws of Compression
  19. - Distributed Processing

Compressor has a split personality. On one hand, Compressor can be used by the novice, as it provides prebuilt templates (read presets) that can handle most of our Compressor chores. These templates offer a one click solution with no need of understanding what is going on under the hood.

On the other hand, Compressor can be a very advanced application where we have complete control over all aspects of Compressor's processes. In the settings window, we pick a codec to apply to our video, in the Inspector we change and modify the settings to meet our exact needs.

Compressor is a vital tool in our video production workflow, and even though it offers Templates for basic one step encoding, Compressor is still an application that you are going to need to learn how to use. As time goes by, you are going to find that you'll need to use some of Compressor's more advanced workflows. Priced at $29.00, plus the fact that Compressor 4 Fast Forward is a well thought out and comprehensive tutorial, there is no excuse not to learn how to use this powerful application.




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