Price: £525 plus VAT
ProCoder will be instantly familiar to anyone with experience of Discreet Cleaner. The user imports files, sets the output parameters, and leaves it to go. All the major formats (QuickTime, RealVideo, Windows Media, AVI) and codecs (including DV, both Microsoft and Canopus’s own) are supported, along with cropping, resizing, and a selection of well-prepared filters. The only major difference is that everything a user imports comes out in every format/configuration selected. For most jobs, this is faster than using Cleaner. Where ProCoder shines is in the speed of its output – especially when outputting multiple versions of the same piece of video. It uses a nifty trick that allows it to create multiple versions of a file at the same time, which, in our tests, allowed it to turn a four-minute music video into three medium-bandwidth versions in each of the main streaming formats in half the time that Cleaner took. Also in ProCoder’s favour is the supplied Video Compression Concepts book by compression guru Ben Waggoner, which explains how and why compression works. On the downside, there’s no Mac version for the QuickTime-centric – and ProCoder is around £50 more expensive than Cleaner, though the speed increases will save you way more than this in the long run. ProCoder also has no network version or upgrade path similar to Cleaner Central. Also, Cleaner 6 for Mac is on its way soon, boasting major performance increases. It also offers network-available watched folders. ProCoder has Droplets, configurations that that you can drag files onto. However, these require the user to confirm by pressing a key, so ProCoder can’t just sit on a server. ProCoder is an excellent tool, but unless you’re definitely Windows-based, it’s worth waiting until you read next month’s Cleaner 6 review.