Join Damian Allen for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring the Compressor interface, part of Final Cut Studio Overview.
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No matter what editing format your Final Cut Pro sequence is in, Compressor is perfect for encoding to the right delivery format. It can encode Standard Definition DVD, Blu-ray Web formats, iPod, iPhone and other mobile devices. In this lesson, we'll get a tour of the interface and in the following lessons we'll look at specific compression workflows. The interface is easy to configure and you can position the various tabs and windows, however you like. You can load, manage, and save layouts from the Window menu.
For the purposes of this tutorial, we'll work with one of the standard layouts. The most important window is the Batch window. Across the top is a toolbar with buttons that either activate the other compression windows or import media. Below that is the Batch Table. The Batch Table is where you drag your files to prepare them from encoding. You can also use the Add File button to import media for encoding via the standard OS X file browser.
The Add Surround Sound button in the toolbar opens the assignment window where you can place your sound files according to your desired Adobe professional mix. Drag files from the Finder, or click the icons and use the Open dialog window to select your source audio. The Inspector window is your information center within Compressor, displaying everything from source media settings to all the options contained within a preset.
What the Inspector shows is directly linked to what's currently selected in either the Batch or Settings windows. The Settings window lets you organize your encoding presets and output locations. The window is divided into two sections, Settings and Destinations. The Settings tab displays all of the encoding presets within Compressor using a familiar folder structure. Clicking the disclosure triangle next to the Apple folder reveals all of the presets contained within.
Each of these folders contains multiple presets for different tasks. The Custom folder contains any presets that you've generated yourself. To create a Custom preset, select the Apple preset that most closely matches your requirements. Click the Duplicate Selected Settings button and you'll now find a copy of that preset in the Custom folder. Select it and then rename it in the Inspector.
You can now step through each of the tabs in the Inspector to tweak the preset to your liking. When you're done making your modifications, click Save in the lower-right corner of the Inspector. To prepare for an encoding task, drag a preset or a folder containing multiple presets from the Settings folder on to a clip in the Batch window. You can add additional presets to the same clip, simply by dragging-and-dropping in the same fashion.
Another easy way to access the settings is to Ctrl-click or right-click on the clip and choose New Target With Setting and locate the setting of choice. One other option of note in the Settings tab is the Save Selection as Droplet button. This creates a droplet icon for the selected setting. You can save this to a location like your desktop and then later drag files on to it for immediate encoding. Click the Destinations tab to view the default output locations for all of your media.
Drag a destination over one of the targets in the Batch table to modify where the final compressed file will be saved. To upload to an FTP server, when the files finish compressing, choose Add > Remote and then enter the login details for the server. You can then apply this to a preset just like any other destination. The History window provides easy access to previous encoding jobs by listing the entries according to date.
To reprocess something, click the disclosure triangle next to the Batch and then drag an entry from the History window into the Batch table. You can also use the History window to check the progress of a batch and use the search icon to instantly reveal the file in the Finder. Select a target in the Batch window and the Preview window enables you to see the effects of the chosen preset for that target. A slider at the top allows you to compare between the original and encoded versions of the media.
Standard shuttle controls at the bottom of the window let you navigate the movie or you can scrub the playhead in the Timeline. For precise adjustment, drag up and down in the timecode fields to scrub through the footage. And like Final Cut Pro, you can set in and out points simply by pressing the I and O keys. You can also add chapter and compression markers using the menu to the right of the Timeline. Notice that you can also click the job thumbnail to review the original video as opposed to one of the targets.
Which brings us to one final point. It's important to understand how things are named in Compressor in order to avoid confusion. A single video clip or audio file in the Batch table is called a job. You might want to encode a single clip more than once. Perhaps a version for DVD, one for the Web and another for iPod playback. Since all of these processes share the same source file, they're all part of a single job. But each of these individual settings is referred to as a target.
When you have a group of clips to be encoded together, you create something called a Batch. Batches mean you can leave your computer unattended and let it automatically process all the files for you. To further organize your encoding jobs, create multiple batches by choosing File > New Batch. Choose one of the default templates, or click Cancel to drag files and settings manually. When you finish creating a batch, click Submit to begin encoding.
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