The Digital Journalist
Compression Session

Professional Compression Secrets DVD
Quicktime Compression Update Using Episode Pro
September 2007

by PF Bentley


I received the Complete Training for Episode and EpisodePro DVD and promptly spent almost 4 non-planned hours mesmerized by their content and easy-to-follow instructions. The disk, which features compression expert Nate Chaplin, (great job, Nate!) was a joy to watch and listen to. Made for users of Episode and "EpisodePro" compression programs by our friends at TeleStream, this DVD is great for anyone who needs to know about professional-quality compression. It can also be applied to other compression programs, even if those programs do not have all the features of the Episode products.

Chapters include Web output for "QuickTime," "Flash" and "Windows" along with instructions on outputting for formats such as iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, 3G Mobile, Sony PSP, DVD, HD-DVD, Editing and Archival, and Audio. This is one of the most comprehensive tutorials on compression to date and yes, even I learned some things about compression and what Episode can do.

By the way, if you don't have a compression program, or are thinking of getting one, this DVD just might sway you to Episode. Personally, I have EpisodePro – it's fast and works quite well.


As we go down the road with fiber optics and other ultra high Web pipelines to full HD on the Web, I've output larger sizes for my clients with a 720x404 pixel-size file.

These are clients who want to be on the cutting edge and bandwidth is not a problem. They also give users a choice of a 480x264 smaller size or the 720x404 larger size.

In the future, the larger size will move up to 940 or 1280 in width. With that said, it's more important than ever to have quality compression results for the larger sizes.

I've always used Apple's QuickTime Movie Trailers as the benchmark to gauge great looking compression on the Web.

I still use most of the settings I put in this column a few months back for QT output direct from the FCP timeline using Export>QuickTime Conversion:

Current Frame Rate or 24 at the least
Medium Quality
Automatic keyframes
Size: Either 480x264 or 720x404
Best Quality Multi-pass

But my workflow for QT has changed from just exporting direct from the timeline. I now make a full-res reference movie and process that in "Episode Pro" which gives me much more control including settings for Sharpness, Contrast, Brightness, Gamma and Saturation.

If you have EpisodePro, try these settings to start: Sharpen +30 Contrast -10, Brightness -5, Gamma +15, Saturation +5. These are just starting points; your settings will vary according to the output.

Here's an example of a 10-second direct from the timeline on top and one that's been sharpened, tweaked and compressed using EpisodePro with H264 below:

That's it for now.

© PF Bentley

PF Bentley is lead Final Cut Pro instructor at the Platypus Workshops. We won't bore you here with his 12-page bio & resume.