Sorenson embraces Web video with Squeeze 9

A new version of the video compression software is designed to ease use of Web video, producing HTML code for both H.264 and VP8.

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Sorenson Squeeze 9 makes life easier for high-end video producers.
Sorenson Squeeze 9 makes life easier for high-end video producers. Sorenson Media

Higher-end video producers anxious to adapt to the new realities of online video will be pleased to know that Sorenson Squeeze 9 (Windows trial; Mac trial), released today, is trying to ease development of streaming-media Web sites.

Web video is a flagship feature of the newer HTML5 incarnation of Hypertext Markup Language. Adding the support is intended to make video as easy to use on Web pages as JPEG is for images. But it's not always so simple to use in the real world, so Squeeze 9 now generates video files and accompanying code quickly so Web developers can use those files.

"It didn't seem like people were grasping that they could create that sort of content," said Mitchell Holyoak, Sorenson Media's vice president of engineering.

Web video is a contentious area because of the codec, or underlying compression technology. The dominant industry codec today is called AVC, or H.264, but Google and allies, including Mozilla, have tried to promote a royalty-free video codec called VP8, which is part of the WebM project. Unlike with image formats such as JPEG and PNG, not all browsers can decode video-encoded content with the two codecs.

Sorenson takes a neutral stance, even though it performed a study last year that showed low adoption of WebM. Squeeze 9 produces both H.264 and VP8/WebM files.

The company is working on support for successors -- HEVC/H.265, a standard that's now finished, but that's only just begun to come to market, as well as VP9, which isn't finished yet.

"Those are options we'll pursue, and we will pursue them in the near future. ... It's certainly high on our development road map," Holyoak said. He added, though, that codecs are slow to take off, even including the now pervasive H.264.

Sorenson Media

Sorenson Squeeze 9 costs $799 for the standard edition and $999 for the pro edition.

The new version is also faster because it makes better use of multicore processors that can perform multiple tasks in parallel, said Chief Executive Peter D. Csathy.

"When you're a video pro, you can never get enough speed for these encoding jobs," he said.

Squeeze 9 is twice as fast as Squeeze 8 at compressing video. The difference is less dramatic when compared to the more recent Squeeze 8.5.

Among other developments with the new software:

• It supports closed-captioning standards, letting customers overlay text drawn from supporting files so it appears at the right time on the video. This was a major feature request from customers, Csathy said.

• Customers can add preset pre-roll and post-roll video clips to their projects, making it easier to add standard introductory footage, advertisements, or other material.

• The review and approval process, which allows collaborators to view a centrally stored video project and leave comments, is much faster.

Sorenson made the announcement about its latest version at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference.