Using Compressor

You have Compressor, now what? The first thing you have to do is to bring the file or files you want to work with into Compressor, either by dragging it into the Batch pane or by clicking the Add File button in the center of the pane or by pressing Command-I for import just as in FCP.

Whenever you add files to the Batch pane, a drop down sheet appears from the top of the window (see Figure 7). Here you can select any of the available presets, either an Apple preset or a custom preset.

Figure 7 Preset Selection Sheet

You MUST pick one. Even if none of them are right for what you want to do you have to select one, any one. If you click Cancel the file will not import. If the preset you select is not one that you want to use, you can delete it from the job. If you want to make a custom preset, it’s simplest to pick one of the Apple presets that’s close to what you want. Unfortunately there are no MPEG-4 Apple presets, so pick an Apple preset it and delete it from the job. You do this by selecting the preset in the job, not the job itself (see Figure 8).

Figure 8 Preset Applied to Job

The video you have selected will appear in the Viewer (see Figure 9). You can play the video with the spacebar, and you can play backwards and forwards and pause with the J, K, L keys. You can mark In and Out points with I and O, which will trim the output. 

Figure 9 Viewer

The rectangle button next to the timecode display switches the transform controls and the vertical line off and on. The transform controls around the image allow you to manually crop the output image. This is great for a web site where you might want to make a custom shape, maybe something wide and thin, or tall and narrow. The vertical line in the center of the image can be moved left and right, and it shows you a before and after view of the video. 

To the right is the marker popup, which allows you to add chapter markers to the video and import a marker list, which can be any tab delineated file (see Figure 10). The file needs to have the exact timecode for the marker location and the name you want to use for the chapter. The timecode must have hours:minutes:seconds:frames separated by colons or semi-colons. After the timecode add a tab and then the chapter name. The time and the name must be separate by the tab to create the tab-delineated file that Compressor will read. Notice in here you can also set the poster frame for the output file.

Figure 10 Markers

You can apply multiple settings to batch encode any job. You can also select an applied setting and press Delete to remove it.

Once the preset has been applied you can see in the Viewer how the compression might look with your media. If you select the job you’ll see the parameters of the specs of the original file in the Job inspector (see Figure 11). The General inspector mostly has information, but it also has a few specific functions such as setting field order. 

Figure 11 Job Inspector

If you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll see options for adding metadata tags for search engines, and also creating job actions, such as sending an email on completion, adding to iTunes, uploading to a sharing service, burning a disc, or even just opening in a specific application like the QuickTime player.

If you select the preset that’s applied to the job, you’ll see the parameters for the preset divided in three panes in the inspector. The first is the General inspector (see Figure 12), which shows the name of the preset at the top and the specifications for it, as well as the estimated file size for the job. You can change the name of the preset here as well at the default location for where it’s sent. If you don’t want it to go any of the standard locations, like Source, which means back where it came from, or Desktop, you can add a new location with the + button in the lower left of the Settings pane.

Figure 12 General Inspector

In General you can also set if the output is Video and Audio, or just Video or just Audio. Notice the section on Retiming, where you can adjust the speed of the output in relation to the original, for instance, output 24fps media at 25fps, or 23.98 at true 24, or vice versa 24fps media at the video standard 23.98. You can also change the output duration, which will change the speed. This is really useful if you’re video is 29;03 and needs to be exactly 30 seconds. 

The Video inspector, which displays all the video options available, is where most of the work is done in setting up the preset. First let’s look at making a new setting.

A couple of last things you want to do in the job window is set the file name and the destination.

Compressor automatically assigns a file name, which you see in the job window on the right. The name is made up of the original name and the name of the preset. It can be quite long, but you can change it there to whatever you want.

In the middle of the job line it says Source. That is the default destination, which puts the file back in the same location it came from. If you right-click on Source you get a pop-up that allows you to select the output location.

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