Discreet’s Cleaner is a staple for people who require a video-encoding utility that allows them to extensively tweak encoding settings and save files in a variety of formats. The latest iteration of the program, Cleaner 6.0.1, not only runs natively in OS X 10.2 but also offers better performance.
Version 6 encodes video faster than earlier versions of Cleaner, thanks to improved optimization for G4 and dual-G4 Macs. The program’s bundled settings have also been changed to improve encoding speed. Depending on the setting you select, encoding can be nearly twice as fast as in Cleaner 5.
Cleaner 6 introduces new encoding options — two-pass variable bit rate (VBR) encoding for MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, MPEG-4 video and AAC audio encoding introduced with QuickTime 6, and Kinoma video encoding (the format used by Palm OS devices). Although these encoders produce fine-looking video, MPEG-2 encoding with Cleaner — even without VBR, which adds more time to the process — is painfully slow compared with Apple’s MPEG-2 encoder. On our 933MHz Power Mac G4, it took Cleaner 12 minutes and 33 seconds to encode a 1-minute QuickTime DV clip. Apple’s encoder completed the job in 1 minute and 16 seconds.
People who rely on Cleaner 5’s Settings Wizard to help them easily choose appropriate encoding settings will be disappointed by its absence from this version. But Cleaner 6 introduces a convenience of its own — Watch Folder, a feature that automatically encodes files dropped into folders on the desktop or on a network server.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
Cleaner 6.0.1’s improvements in performance and in codec and OS compatibility make it an essential upgrade for people with previous versions — as well as a strong temptation for anyone who desires a flexible and powerful encoding utility.