Newsletter #166 - Sept 8, 2007
Expression Encoder


The final release of the new Expression Encoder was Sept 5th. A quick look-over shows some changes since the previous May 07 preview edition.
Here's the link to get it... 
The downloaded file is Encoder.en.msi, an 8-1/2 MB installation file. On the first try I was told to uninstall the previous version and rerun the setup. I'm doing this on my XP laptop system, not my Vista one.
The Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs... had two items, one the Microsoft Expression Media Encoder and the other the recent Microsoft Expression Media Encoder Preview Update.... I removed the Encoder first and then the update... maybe I should have done it in the other order as my system crashed totally at the 100% point of the first uninstall... coincidence??... rebooting showed it not in the Control Panel list, so I did the Update removal....
The uninstalls left a folder of 18 profiles and the EMEGuide.doc under the Media Encoder 1.0 folder, which didn't interfere with the new installation.

Supported File FormatsThe second try at the install went well... giving me the 60 day trial version. The install went into a new c:\Program Files\Microsoft Expression\Encoder 1.0 folder...  
The help file lists the video file formats supported... note the asterisked items that need QuickTime or an MPEG-2 decoder.
New to the list since my newsletter #148 about the first beta release of the Encoder are .3g2, .3gp, .dv, .mod, .mov, and .m4p video formats and .m4A, m4B, and .bwf audio formats.
The folder of templates had a new one named 'Clean'... in addition to the 14 that were in the previous release candidate (RC) version. I rendered a sample video with it and added it to my website's set of Silverlight samples. 

I moved the folder of profiles from the previous release to the new installation... added or custom profiles can be used in addition to the included one, like with Movie Maker.

A couple quick checks showed all was well... a plain vanilla encode, followed by making a Silverlight package with the re-added 'Clean' template.
This newsletter won't be a tutorial... I'll take a closer look at selected items, including the Live encoding mode.
but first....
... a couple notes...


'Truth Before Commerce' is an interesting concept that's nicely out of sync with today's marketing-oriented world, at least when it comes to providing objective reviews of software.


The image is a link to the Bright Hub alpha website, a Flatburger startup venture that I'm supporting.

Bright Hub

They used an extract from one of my emails as an accent on the new home page...


I ran into an issue with one of my hard drives this week, and it happens to have the master list of newsletter subscribers.... I've pieced together a new list, but it has 10 holes in it. If you hear a comment from someone who is on distribution, but didn't receive it... drop a note. Thanks.


I expect to get the hard drive back into operation.



.... back to the main topic...

Live Source Mode...
For this screen shot, I connected my mini-DV camcorder by firewire and turned it to the record mode for a live source. My other option is a Camtasia screen capture app, one I couldn't make appear in the Encoder. 
For file sources, I reached over to one of the files in my library. You can toggle among the sources when outputting a streaming video.
The Encoder is streaming the currently selected video out my port 8080... to whoever is tuned in. Select the option in the metadata area and it'll save an archive copy of the broadcast as a wmv file as it broadcasts. The path to one of my archive files is...
C:\Documents and Settings\PapaJohn\My Documents\Live stream archive 9-6-2007 1.05 AM.wmv
It feels like I'm in a broadcast control room at my local cable access TV station. 
Live Source

Video Filters... Compatibility
Filter CompatabilityWe're all too familiar with issues with codecs when doing video encoding.
The compatibility list is somewhat comforting in being able to stop a specific filter from effecting the process without disabling any apps that use it.
The Tools > Options choice on the menu... in either mode... gets you to the list.
Linger over a line item to see the tooltip for the full path and file name....
The sort order is by Name, and you can't change it by clicking on any of the column headers.

Markers and Thumbnails
chaptersExiting Live mode, let's look at a couple selected features, starting with markers and thumbnails.
The Expression Encoder has a feature to set chapter points, and the Silverlight packages let viewers use them for control...
Set the markers at the frames you want, and then opt for thumbnails... at all markers or just selected ones. Checking the top option like I did selects them all.
Opt for thumbnails
When the file is playing in a Silverlight package such as the 'Clean' style, move your mouse over the upper part and the chapter points with thumbnails will appear... click on one to move to that part of the video. 

Image Overlays
Image OverlayIf your overlay image has a solid background, select the option to Use Transparent Background to remove it. This command samples the pixel color at the 0,0 coordinates of your image, which is in the upper-left corner, and removes that color from the image.
Here's a BMP image, a 3D URL on a blue background... the blueness turned transparent when the option was selected. This opens the making of such transparent overlays to all image apps that can make a solid color background. You don't need anything more than Paint.
Overlay on Blue

Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?
I haven't had a chance to exercise the compatibility list items yet, as the Expression Encoder works well on both my XP and Vista laptops with whatever input files I use.
And there hasn't been any issues playing the online Silverlight packages produced by the Encoder.
I find the Help menu including a link to the newsgroup to be interesting, and a nice touch...   

Have a great week...