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    by Andy Beach
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My First Look at Episode 6

If you have ever read or heard me chat about the compression tools I use, you know Episode has weighed in heavily.  And that love of that application as a catch all dates back to when it was still Popwire.  Part of what drew me to this app orginally was how reminiscent it was of Terran's Media Cleaner Pro in terms of codecs and formats supports (lots) and the dials and knobs you could use to tweak the settings (also, lots).

The New Episode 6 Interface on Windows 7The New Episode 6 Interface on OSX 10.6







Back at NAB of this year, Telestream announced a major revision of Episode which has now launch.  Episode 6, now available in a few configurations is a fairly major update to the user interface and adds a whole new notion called workflows.

But workflows arent the only update - here's a quick rundown of what's new:
  • Episode Engine is now available for the PC.
  • Extended browsing, monitor and deployment possibilities. Bookmark, browse, monitor, and deploy to local folders, SMB network shares or FTP servers. You can even automatically upload to YouTube with metadata.
  • One click clustering: All versions of episode (Mac and/or PC) can collaborate and share work.
  • Built in file sharing: Episode systems will dynamically share content with each other, avoiding file sharing issues.
  • All mpeg formats (MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, H.264) now use Main Concept codecs.
  • Split and stitch encoding is available in Episode Engine for mac and windows.
  • Split and Stitch encoding is available for all supported formats in mixed Mac and PC clusters.
  • Episode command line interface (CLI). See user manual for details.
  • Support for encoding to the new Google webm format.
  • ProRes codec is now included with Episode (all editions). This allows decoding (Mac and PC) and encoding (Mac) ProRes files without requiring the separate installation of the Apple ProRes codec.
  • New Colorspace Conversion Filter: Converts 601 to and from 709 color. In addition this filter can also convert video levels between studio (scaled) and Full (RGB) levels.
Of all these elements, here are the big standout features for me:
Cross Platform Support - Episode 5 brought about a PC version of Episode which I was very happy about.  I'm a cross platform guy - I often need to troubleshoot systems for others that are both PC and Mac, so I need to be up on both and often certain files are just easier to encode and manipulate on one OS or the other.
Clustering - Support for using both PC and Mac versions of Episode as a shared resource on a network for encoding.
Deployments - being able to save share points and then assign them to workflows
Workflows - the graphical interface for dragging together blocks of watch folders, encode settings and deployment points to create whole workflows that can then be saved .  This is such a logical way to work for me that I'm very happy to see it make it into the UI.
 Sample Worklfow in Episode 6
Webm Support - this is the first professional encoding application i've gotten my hands on that supports webm, so i'm excited to be able to play around with it more.  I've already tested out multiple freebie apps, but they always lack the control over settings I crave.

Three Flavors

Episode (priced at $495) includes support for Flash 8 & 9, H.264, Windows Media, MPEG1/2/4, VC-1, DV, 3GPP and much more, plus One-Click Clustering and file sharing, processing of one job at a time, and unlimited batch processing.

Episode Pro (priced at $995) includes Episode features listed above, plus support for high-end professional formats and parallel encoding of two jobs at a time.

Episode Engine (priced at $3,995) includes Episode Pro features, plus unlimited parallel encoding and Split-and-Stitch distributed encoding for high volume throughput at maximum speed.

Which version is right for you?

If you are just creating content for the web, the base model of Episode is likely all you need.  I typically run Episode Pro because I often find myself with a wide range of professional formats that are supported in it.  If you are encoding a huge amount of content regularly, episode engine is designed as a dedicated encoding station, similar to products like Rhozet's Carbon Coder or Inlet Technologies Armada.

If you want to see Episode Pro in action, check out the webinar I presented recently (September 28th).  I showed off some of Episode 6, though several different encoding applications were covered (in full disclosure, Telestream sponsored the webinar). 

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