Using Compressor as a Standalone Application

You can use Compressor as a standalone encoding application to submit QuickTime movie files at any time, regardless of whether Final Cut Pro is opened.

When Should You Use Compressor as a Standalone Application?

If you want to continue using Final Cut Pro while Compressor is encoding, you can export your Final Cut Pro clips and sequences to QuickTime movies and then submit them to Compressor. The disadvantage of this method is that you must make an intermediate copy of your movie. This requires extra time and, if you’re not careful, the additional QuickTime processing step may cause some generational loss.

You can also use Compressor as a standalone application to transcode a source clip from one standard or format to another before adding the clip to the Final Cut Pro sequence. For example, if you want to convert a PAL clip to NTSC, you could do this directly in Compressor without involving Final Cut Pro.

Using QuickTime Reference Movies

To use Compressor as a standalone application, you need to create QuickTime movie files to submit to Compressor. For example, suppose you are working on a one-hour DV project in Final Cut Pro that you want to encode to MPEG-2 for DVD authoring. Before you can use Compressor, you need to export the entire one-hour sequence to a temporary QuickTime movie file that you can then submit to Compressor. This temporary file takes a lot of unnecessary disk space, so an alternative is to export a QuickTime reference movie.

QuickTime reference movies appear the same as standard QuickTime movies, but they often take less disk space because the video track actually refers to your sequence’s original media files when possible. The only time media is actually stored in a QuickTime reference movie is during segments where rendering is required. Compressor processes a QuickTime reference movie in the same way as a standalone QuickTime movie that contains all of its media within its own video track. Exporting to QuickTime movies always takes longer if rendering is required, but you still spare Final Cut Pro from the time-consuming MPEG-2 compression phase.

Important: QuickTime reference movies are useful for temporary use on your local system, but be careful not to send these movies to remote systems that don’t have all the required media.

Creating Encoding Jobs in Compressor

To add a QuickTime movie to the Compressor encoding queue, you need to create an encoding job. An encoding job contains a single source media file and settings for one or more output files.

To open Compressor
  1. In the Finder, choose Go > Applications.

    The frontmost Finder window displays the Applications folder on your computer.

  2. Navigate to the Compressor application in the Applications folder, then double-click the Compressor icon.

To submit a QuickTime movie to Compressor for encoding
  1. Choose Job > New Job With File (or press Command-I).

  2. Select a media file, then click Open.

    An encoding job for the selected media file appears in the Batch window.

You can also create QuickTime movies by dragging one or more media files from the Finder directly to the Batch window.

Applying Encoder Settings and Submitting Jobs

The steps for encoding QuickTime movies with Compressor are covered in detail in the Compressor User Manual, available in Compressor Help. This section provides a brief overview to get you started quickly.

To select encoding settings for your job in Compressor
  • In Compressor, drag an appropriate setting from the Settings tab to the job in the Batch window.

    If you can’t find a setting that suits your needs, you can customize an existing setting or create a new one. A Compressor setting defines all aspects of the conversion, such as image dimensions, aspect ratio, encoding bit rate, frame rate, and so on.

    If you want to export multiple versions of this job, you can drag additional settings from the Settings tab to the job in the Batch window. For example, you might want to export both AIFF and AC-3 files.

To choose where your encoded output files are saved
  1. In Compressor, click the Destinations tab and then drag a destination preset to your job in the Batch window.

    By default, Compressor saves encoded files to the same location as your source media file.

  2. If you want, enter a new a name for the encoded file.

To submit the job for encoding
  • Click Submit in the Batch window.

    The Batch Monitor application opens and shows the encoding progress. Once encoding is complete, you can use the encoded movie in your DVD, web, or iPod project.