HomeResources Review: Telestream Episode Encoder and Episode Encoder Pro 5.x
Review: Telestream Episode Encoder and Episode Encoder Pro 5.x
Written by Loren Miller
Tuesday, 01 December 2009
Episode Encoder and Episode Encoder Pro 5.x Media compression for Macintosh and Windows $495.00, $995.00 for Pro edition www.telestream.net
Episode Encoder and Episode Encoder Pro, previously “Episode” and “Episode Pro”, have been renamed to distinguish them from Telestream’s enterprise-strength “Engine” product line. It maintains its respectable lead over tools like Apple’s Compressor with both speed, choice of formats and additional features.
Episode Encoder's interface is pure simplicity. Drag files into the big window. Drag settings from the robust list of codecs, or tweak, save, and apply your own.
If you compare the two programs, you’ll discover Compressor’s interface is cluttered; and Encoder’s interface is clean and simple, yet offering much more power, with more code choices—it is a tool reaching out to the real world which includes Flash, Windows Media and standards conversion from PAL to NTSC, and many other workflows. It supports closed captioning, up to 16 audio channels.
Capabilities aside-- compare to Compressor 3's interface!
I did a ten minute encoding test of a DV NTSC anamorphic ProRes 422 clip in both Apple Compressor 3.5 and Episode Encoder Pro 5.3. Both finished compressing a web-ready H.264 320 X 240 clip in less than five minutes on a 2.26 Ghz 8-core Mac Pro tower-- I give the edge to Encoder based on stopwatch test. (Compressor 2 users however should either get Encoder or upgrade to Final Cut Studio 3!) I applied each product’s H.264 300-kilobit-per-second codec, ideal for very fast web streaming. I did nothing to either setting.
Out of the box results from selecting a 320 X 240 H.264 codec at 300 Kb/s in each utility: on the left, from Compressor 3; note squeezed image; half frame rate. On the right, Episode Encoder detected anamorphic aspect ratio and default settings honored original frame rate.
Results, however, really differ. While quality to my eye seems the same, the Compressor codec apparently didn’t see the clip’s anamorphic flag. Episode Encoder did, letterboxing content in the 4:3 format I chose. Compressor’s default setting gave me half the frame rate I wanted; Encoder honored my existing 29.97 frame rate, which is the only reason Compressor’s file size and data rate came in lighter.
Encoder and Encoder Pro are available standalone for both major platforms, yet it plays very well with Final Cut Pro, expanding the range of workflow choices directly from the FCP timeline. While Apple’s Compressor will give you excellent workflow within Final Cut Studio, it’s not available outside the package. While it offers a few global standards like MP3, presets for encoding your YouTube clips and the like, it’s primarily Apple-centric. It has no Windows Media, Real, and special workflow codecs for standards conversion. For that, turn to a real Swiss army knife: Episode Encoder.
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