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iPontificateQuick & Easy Windows Media Conversions on a Mac

by

- April 8th, 2005

Popwire Technologies recently released a new application called WMV-9 Export Component for QuickTime designed for encoding Windows Media Player videos on a Mac for use on the Web. I got my hands on a copy of the software to see how well, or how lousy, the application was designed.

There are a few other applications out there aimed at Mac users needing to create Windows Media Player files, including Cleaner and Flip4Mac, but only Popwire's application comes in with an under-US$30.00 price tag. Compared to the (around) $500 price for Cleaner, and $179.00 for the Flip4Mac Pro version, I was expecting WMV-9 Export Component for QuickTime to be an application that would leave lots to be desired.

Boy was I wrong.

WMV-9 Export Component turned out to be a great little application for quickly encode WMV files directly from within Final Cut Pro HD (currently, only the HD version of Final Cut Pro is supported). I ran two tests to see how the results came out using a 1 GHz iBook G4 to mimic field conditions for remote compressing and uploading. The project was a trailer that fellow filmmaker Craig Knapp had just cut in full HD resolution using DVCPRO HD media.

Using WMV-9 Export Component for QuickTime

The interface is simple and intuitive and can be opened in Final Cut when the Export tab is selected. Using QuickTime Conversion, select the media format you will convert the sequence into from the list, which includes WMV-9.

Picture 1: Select QuickTime Conversion Picture 2: Then select WMV-9

(Click to see the full-size images)

After selecting the WMV-9 format, you are given several options as to what the ultimate parameters of the compressed video will be, including the frame size, bit rate, and audio rate. There are numerous presets you can use for simplicity, or you can customize the file and compression rates with a variety of variables.

For the first compression test, we chose the "Widescreen Medium" preset, as the original source material was in 16x9. The picture quality of this preset was 80%, and the length of the trailer to be compressed was 2 minutes and 14 seconds of uncompressed HD media. Another option available before the encoding process is started is the ability to embed title description and other information within the video file. That includes information such as author, rating, and copyright material.

The encoding time took around ten minutes on the iBook to process the video file from the HD media into the Windows Media 9 format. The final file size of the video was 2.6 M. That was all it took to convert and compress the trailer in its entirety.

The second test we ran used the same original trailer, but we upped the ante a bit. Choosing the custom option for the encoding, we boosted the image size from 320x180 to the larger 640x360. We also adjusted the image quality from 80% to the full 100% to see how it affected the encoding process.

Picture 3: The settings for the "Widescreen Medium" preset. Picture 4: Adjusted settings in the custom window.

(Click to see the full-size images)

The encoding time was the same for the previous test, running about ten minutes to complete. At full resolution, and with the screen size being 640x360, the file size jumped considerably to a whopping 55 M. Even though the original material came from HD media, the whole process was completed without any type of headaches whatsoever.

Overall, the Popwire WMV-9 Export Component for QuickTime is a breeze to use and manage. If there is ever a time when you need to quickly encode a project or video clip from Final Cut Pro HD for a client running a Windows PC, Popwire really has developed a great solution to satisfy those needs.

The price point alone makes it an attractive application, but the feature set included within the app helped solidify my opinion. Not only is it easy to use -- far less complicated than Cleaner -- it also works with iMovie, so the average home editor can cut their home movies and e-mail them to Grandma on her Gateway or HP desktop.


With five years in the entertainment industry, and three years writing for The Mac Observer, works passionately on various genres of film, including documentaries, narrative features, and shorts. He has two feature films under his belt as Director of Photography and Camera Operator, and his current role at TMO is to cover digital media and the film industry.

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