• Price: 101 . 359

  • Company: Microsoft

  • Pros: Silverlight templates; attractive price point; live streaming; VC-1 video support; watermarks and metadata support; pre-roll leaders and trailers.

  • Cons: Windows only; fairly high system requirements.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Expression Encoder is a new addition to the Expression suite, a scalable encoding solution for producing and distributing VC-1 encoded video wrapped in a Silverlight container.

Import options are, obviously, key. You can bring in a range of video content, including QuickTime, AVI, DV, WMV, video files from DVDs and anything supported by DirectShow.

There’s a range of destination codecs, for both audio and video – so you can design for anything from a motion thumbnail to 720p HD. An A/B compare mode uses a split-screen viewer to preview how the encoded output will look against the original. Uniquely, Encoder also has a live streaming option, which is well served by various encoding options.

It’s simple to add video leaders and trailers to media clips, or introduce custom media content such as station identification, ads and credits to the beginning or end of your file. You can also overlay custom watermarks, using standard image formats such as JPEG and PNG, video files such as AVI and WMV or a XAML animation; this gives you control over almost all aspects of the watermark.

You can use movie files that include alpha channels, and it also supports standard and custom metadata, including ISAN for asset tracking, search, and management, and SAMI or Timed Text (DFXP) for synchronizing text with subtitles or captions.

When it comes to export, Encoder provides a range of Silverlight templates with which to package your content. The templates can also be edited in Expression Blend, and there’s an integrated option for this on the output panel.
Encoder is an intelligent solution: in the case of edits made to WMV content and Silverlight templates, it will only re-encode the sections that have been modified, so saving time and streamlining experimentation.

As a standalone product, Encoder has quite an attractive price point and will suit designers who need to produce Web video, as well as those involved in broadcasting.