Contact Review: Seems like a good decision, because although there were some rough edges, Expression Encoder 3 proved very capable and functional in my tests. Expression Encoder started as a limited-function encoder that output solely VC-1 files, primarily for publishing for Silverlight format.
In Expression Encoder 3, Microsoft added more H. Figure 1. Overview Figure 1 shows Expression Encoder 3, which has an attractive, flexible interface with three basic components. On top is the Viewer pane, where you can view your media and preview compression. Below that is the Media Content panel, which lists all imported videos and their current compressed status. The basic workflow is to import videos in the Media Content panel, trim if necessary in the View panel, choose a preset on the upper right, customize it on the lower right, and then click the Encode button to produce your files.
I should note that Expression Encoder can produce live events but that I did not test those features or that workflow. Figure 2. Unlike any other tool in its price range, Microsoft also does a nice job exposing the SDK 11 encoding tweaks, which give compressionists the ability to customize encoding based upon certain characteristics of their source footage. The manual does a nice job explaining when and how to use many of these parameters, which is also helpful.
In my quality tests, I set Video Complexity to Best, changed the default one-pass CBR to two-pass VBR, and generally left all other settings at their defaults, lest the testing hours expand to testing days or testing weeks.
I compared the files produced by Expression Encoder 3 with Sorenson Squeeze 5. Overall, Expression Encoder ranked at the top of the class, though the difference with Squeeze and Carbon Coder was so small as to be commercially irrelevant. I understand that Telestream plans to revamp the WMV encoding engine in a near-term release, which will be very welcome. Figure 3 shows you why. I can see using Silverlight for existing content of VC-1 encoded content, but going forward, H.
Figure 3. Windows Media on the left, H. The codec was developed internally by Microsoft and only supports up to the Main Profile, not the Advanced Profile as supported by all other tested encoding tools. Despite being nearly brand-new, the quality of the preserved detail was very similar to the best that MainConcept and Dicas could offer, with just a hint more noise on flat backgrounds. In the meantime, you can produce H. One irritation is that the lowest audio bitrate available is 96Kbps, even for mono audio.
I asked Microsoft about this, and I got the standard answer: OK, rant over for some reason, inefficient audio-related controls really make my blood boil. Again, in all cases, I would default to the Best setting for Complexity, which produced noticeably better quality than the Normal 3 default in my tests, and then adjust the other parameters as normal.
Again, most presets use one-pass CBR, so change this to two-pass VBR for nonstreaming applications for optimal quality. Figure 4. Blocks in the background are slightly more visible in the Expression Encoder clip, but only slightly. So basically, Expression Encoder was best in class for VC-1 and virtually indistinguishable from the best in H.
What about other new features? Figure 5. You apply the template like any other, but rather than creating one set of parameters, the template creates multiple outputs, such as those shown in Figure 6.
You can modify any of the templates or click the plus sign to create another output file. With the Create Separate File Per Stream option selected, which is the default for all of the Smooth Streaming templates, Expression Encoder will create a separate file for each template.
Load them onto the Internet Information Server 7. As with most screen capture functions, you start by selecting an application or screen area to capture; specify whether you want to capture audio, webcam input, or both; and start capturing away. Figure 6. The Smooth Streaming p template creates eight separate files that can be dynamically switched during playback.
A better choice would have been an industry-standard AVI file that producers could load into a regular video editor for video and particularly audio editing. In scope of the current release, we decided to focus our attentions on the codec performance rather than on making the codec itself accessible outside Expression Encoder.
Most screencam producers also tweak the audio component, removing pops and clicks and normalizing or compressing the signal for better clarity. Figure 7. The Expression Encoder 3 capture applet. The top toolbar controls capture, while the settings appear when you click the second icon from the right. Microsoft should consider doing the same. Otherwise, the screencam implementation is certainly usable for a version 1. For all my whining, the quality was quite good, though I recommend outputting in very high quality H.
Beyond AVI output, features that I would prioritize for the next release include remembering the last captured area rather than setting it fresh each capture; an audio-tuning wizard; and an audio volume meter during capture. I like the pause and resume hot keys, but when you click resume, the utility should reposition the cursor to where it was when you paused; otherwise you get a cursor jump, pretty much ring around the collar for us screencam jockeys.
As a homegrown tool, I expected Expression Encoder 3 to produce top VC-1 quality such as it is , and it did. I was surprised by the quality of the H. Expression Encoder 3 is one of the few software-only tools that can prep files for on-demand Smooth Streaming, making it a natural for that application, and it has the widest variety of Silverlight templates. January 2, Author: Jan Ozer A leading expert on H. Post navigation.