capsule review

Sorenson Video 3

QuickTime 5.0.2 includesa free copy of Sorenson Video 3--the latest version of the most widely used codec for compressing and decompressing Web-based QuickTime video--but multimedia professionals should consider paying $499 for the Professional Edition. Its advanced compression settings yield even better image quality, and it has a few features the free version lacks (for example, the ability to add color watermarks to a movie as you compress it).

Unfortunately, neither version takes advantage of multiple processors--a useful feature when you're encoding live events. (A free update that adds support for multiple processors should be available by the time you read this.) One of the Professional Edition's best capabilities--variable-bit-rate (VBR) encoding, which improves image quality--will be inaccessible until Discreet's Cleaner 5.1 ships. And the program runs only in Mac OS 9--not in OS X's Classic mode.

Macworld's Buying Advice

Sorenson Video 3 Professional Edition is a superb, if pricey, codec for low-bit-rate applications. QuickTime pros who create high-quality Web video will want it, especially once Cleaner 5.1 is available.

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