Newsletter #112 - July 15, 2006
Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition
Powerful tool for video professionals uses VC-1 for the
creation of high-quality offline encoding.
LAS VEGAS — April 24, 2006 — Today at the
National Association of Broadcasters convention, NAB2006, Microsoft Corp.
announced availability this week of a new addition to the Windows
Media® tools family, Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition. The beta
encoder is a powerful tool for video professionals, optimized for the creation
of high-quality offline encoding using Microsoft’s implementation of the VC-1
video standard (Windows Media Video). Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition beta
provides the key features necessary to create next-generation video content and
capitalize on the growing importance of optical media and video-on-demand
“With the final standardization of VC-1, Windows
Media Encoder Studio Edition will prove to be an invaluable tool for the offline
encoding community,” said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of the
Windows® Digital Media Division at Microsoft. “This is another
example of how Microsoft is providing the end-to-end solutions for content
creation and meeting the evolving demands of the professional video
that's the lead-in to this
Microsoft website page...
It sounds pretty techie and important. Some of us use the version 9
Windows Media Encoder for things like screen captures, so this new tool might
have something for Movie Maker and Photo Story users. It's been a couple
months since the press release, and the beta software is
available for download. Time to take a look.
It's been almost 4 years since the version 9 encoder beta was released. The
Media Encoder Studio Edition
is being developed in
parallel with Vista, where the high definition profiles are included in
Movie Maker, but the beta version of this encoder can run on Windows
The Encoder, the old or this new beta, isn't for everyone as
its user interface is a bit more geeky than Movie Maker.
Computer system requirements and recommendations are healthy... the
website says a 3.0 GHz CPU is required and a 3.6 GHz one
recommended (I make the 3.0 on a few systems, but don't have any at
the 3.6 GHz level). High-performance, high-speed disk arrays are
recommended for storage (I guess that's a notch above my USB2 external hard
drives). 1 GB of RAM is required, and 2 is recommended.
For software it requires Core XML Services
and Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0
Get them if needed from links on this
. I already had both on my laptop.
The app opens with a working window with a single
Project tab. Click the Add Video Track button (you can only do
that once) and the Add Audio Track (that one you can
do up to 99 times.
That gets the window to 3 tabs, and later adds a
4th tab to optionally re-encode a segment. Let's start
with the Timeline tab, as Movie Maker users may relate to it.
I've added some source files (drag and drop from a file manager doesn't
work; bring them in via the Add Source button), and dragged one from there
to the timeline (a clip from last week's visit to Chicago - the scene is
going down an escalator at the Water Tower Place shopping mall). I've also
added a few audio tracks.
The app's limits are one video track and up to 99 audio
Note that the built-in features include blackness for the video track and
silence for the audio... transitions in Movie Maker terms.
The goal is to take source files and encode them to new
files... like we do in Movie Maker.
We'll be taking an overall look at the app, not getting
into heavy techie stuff like the optional encoding settings. If
you end up using this software, you'll need to get to know these features.
Maybe that'll be for another newsletter someday after the final version of the
Encoder is released.
... before getting into it
further, a few notes...
Vista Corner... The website and DVD project for the
Renaissance Wedding is complete. I wanted to use the cool new
look of a Vista DVD, but playback issues with it were such that I
used Roxio's MyDVD Premier 8, which was kind of slow and clunky,
moving along like a project in Movie Maker that's overly complex and
hitting the big slow-down point when it starts using virtual
memory. There were some errors and other issues along
the way in MyDVD, but the discs ended up fine and given to the
couple 6+ weeks after the wedding.
I rendered the DVD project to an iso image file on my
laptop, and use MyDVD Studio Deluxe to burn discs from the
iso file, which is a big compressed file with all the files needed for the DVD
in it. The iso is 4.4 GB in size, and the DVD plays for 67+
It took a few hours to render the MPEG-2 files
to the iso image, but takes only about 10 minutes per disc to
burn them from the image. The most important thing is the discs burned cleanly
and play well (6 of 7 anyway... one had a playback issue on my
cheap DVD player, my final check point, so I tossed
for-sale video on Google
Video... submitted May 3... still has the status of "Video
is verified; stay tuned - it will be live shortly"... it's been over 2
months in the queue to be online.
I've stopped checking it's status every day and now taking bets as
to whether or not it ever gets to the next step of 'being live'.
MaximumPC issue with the Photo Story 3
tutorial is on the magazine stand of my local Barnes & Noble. The 7 page
article starts on page 68 in the Special Summer 2006 edition. They do
a great job of packaging the material...
.... back to the main
Encoder Studio Edition beta
installation... and WARNING
My download and install was
quick, easy, and with no startup issues. The app went into a new
c:\Program Files\Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition folder on my laptop
running Windows XP-SP2.
The license says you may use the software only to internally demonstrate
and evaluate it. No
commercial use... and it has a time clock in it such that it turns into a
pumpkin on Dec 15, 2006. It says content created with it won't run after
that also. Maybe there's a time clock in the movies you encode with it, or
maybe it just means you're not allowed to use them beyond
Don't even think about doing anything
important with the software until you've read the full contents of the release
notes... that'll change your mind. As beta 1 software, the list makes
interesting and daunting reading.
I especially like the advice about
uninstalling this version before installing other software, and then
reinstalling it afterwards, or the uninstallation of the encoder
beta someday will result in your other software being removed with it. And
it's talking about security updates too... which I assume includes all those
daily updates done automatically by Microsoft in the middle of the night,
or as my system closes or starts up. By mid-December I'll have 5 months of
updates and new software installations that might go away when I remove the
encoder. It's amusing to read now, but maybe it won't be fun as I'm in the
middle of getting ready for the holidays at the end of the year.
Maybe it's best to read this
newsletter and not try the software yourself.
Source Files and App Usage... per the help
Source files must be in AVI, ASF or Raw
Supported video scenarios:
- Encode an uncompressed or Raw video source
- Encode an uncompressed WAV or AVI audio files
- Scene-by-scene re-encoding of video
- Frame resizing, frame rate conversion, color
Supported audio scenarios:
- Encode uncompressed WAV or AVI audio files
- Basic previewing and playback functionality
- Pre-processing, re-sampling (automatically), and
compression to standard Windows Media Audio (WMA) codecs
- Note This version of
Windows Media Encoder Studio Edition does not support elementary streams.
Encoded files are saved using the Advanced Systems
The app works great with uncompressed AVI files... you get
error messages trying to use type I or II DV-AVI files from a camcorder or Movie
In addition to uncompressed AVI files from
VirtualDub, it worked fine with WMV files from Movie Maker and Photo Story,
including uncompressed WMV movies. And for some reason, it let me use some other
Using high quality photo stories
to encode to HD files might be an interesting use of the
app. One of my tests was to take the story I recently made for the
MaximumPC tutorial and render it to a video at 1200x900 pixels.
No, it doesn't accept VOB files from DVDs or MPEG-2
Previewing Source Files
Here's a full-size snapshot of the built-in viewer for source
files... viewing a WMV movie source.
The Encode tab is
where you select options for the new file. It's similar to filling out
the settings in a custom profile for Movie Maker or Photo Story.
Resizing the source file was done by
setting the pixel dimensions in the Project tab, not the Encode tab.
It's a pre-processing step.
To get screen shots for this
newsletter, I went with the defaults. The encoding window shows progress, along
with both the source file and the new one being re-encoded.
When the initial encoding is
finished, the app adds another tab 'Re-Encode'. If you want to enhance a segment
or reduce the encoded bitrate of it... select it by marking the in and out
points, make your desired settings, and re-encode the selection.
Another WMV file is created for the
After the segment's been
re-encoded, the picture changes to show the differences between the original
file and the new one in the area of the re-encoding. The changes start with
a key and finish with another one, even when you mark the in and out points
When you're satisfied with the
project and the re-encoded segments, use the Publish button to
render the full video with the re-encoded segments
Conclusions and Closing
It's beta 1 software... but it feels and works good!!! and it's
fun to play with. Wish I had an HD camcorder to get some
real high quality source material rather than using blown up oversized
DV-AVI files. Photo Stories are my best bet...
I use the current encoder mostly for screen capture sessions.
This new encoder doesn't include such features.
Have a great week...