Sorenson Squeeze is a few-frills video-compression utility that occupies the middle ground between Apple’s $30 QuickTime Pro and Discreet’s $599 Cleaner 5. Squeeze lacks Cleaner’s full arsenal of quality-optimizing features, but it does provide more control over video compression than QuickTime Pro. Squeeze also costs far less than Cleaner, and unlike Cleaner, it runs natively in Mac OS X.
Squeeze compresses video using the Sorenson Video compressor/decompressor, or codec, the most widely used codec for Web-destined QuickTime movies.
The program’s features are all accessible in a single, straightforward window. At the top of the window, seven buttons correspond to presets for common connection speeds, while an eighth button lets you create a custom preset from scratch.
If you want several versions of a movie for users with different connection speeds, choose more than one preset and Squeeze will create a separate movie for each target bandwidth (see “Squeeze Play”). Unlike Cleaner, however, it doesn’t create the QuickTime reference movie that’s required to deliver these bandwidth-tuned alternate movies to Web users. You have to use a utility such as Apple’s free MakeRefMovie to create the reference movie.
You can modify the presets in Squeeze to apply the program’s image-tweaking features, which include contrast, brightness, and gamma adjustments, as well as white- and black-level controls. Squeeze also provides a simple auto-crop feature that slices ten pixels off the top and bottom of your movie–terrific for cleaning up the video noise that often accompanies content captured from analog tape, such as VHS videocassettes.
In general, the quality of Squeeze’s compression results far exceeds that of QuickTime Pro’s but tends to fall short of Cleaner’s results. In addition, Squeeze lacks some of the workflow conveniences that Cleaner offers. For example, you can’t save a modified compression setting for future reuse.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
There’s no reason to buy Squeeze if you already have Cleaner 5 or if you’re just getting started with Web video and can afford Cleaner instead. But if you’re on a tight budget, or if you want to integrate OS X into your production workflow, embrace Squeeze. It provides higher-quality results than QuickTime Pro and is easier to use than Cleaner.–jim heid