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BitJazz Newsletter
April 2003

Hi,

I just wanted to let you know that we released an upgrade to the SheerVideo Pro Preview today. You can download the free preview from

http://www.bitjazz.com/en/

The new version, 0.9.5, introduces the following changes and new features:

opaque alpha

When decompressing to RGBA, the SheerVideo RGB decoder now sets alpha to 1 (opaque) instead of 0 (transparent), for greater convenience in compositing applications. If you have an application where zero alpha would be preferred, please let us know.

format-specific encoders

This release offers, as before, an easy-to-use all-in-one encoder, listed in the video compressor menu as

Sheer

This universal Sheer encoder attempts to automatically select the pixel representation appropriate to the source data. However, QuickTime sometimes covertly converts the input data to a different pixel format, giving the codec no reliable way to determine the source pixel format. This is unfortunate because, in most cases, QuickTime's automatic data conversion does not maintain perfect fidelity.

To reduce the chance of undesired data conversion, you can now explicitly select one of 3 format-specific SheerVideo encoders:

  • Sheer RGB 8b
        for digitized film and computer-generated imagery
  • Sheer Y'CbCr 8bv 4:2:2 ('2vuy', 'yuvs')
        for video-range video data
  • Sheer Y'CbCr 8bw 4:2:2 ('yuv2', 'yuvu')
        for wide-range video data

In order to compress your video with perfect fidelity, you must use the SheerVideo encoder corresponding to the actual source pixel format. Otherwise, QuickTime will try to convert the data to the encoder's pixel format before passing the data to the encoder.

Note that many applications, including Apple Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects, convert all video to an internal format, typically RGB[A] 8b (in various component orders) or Y'CbCr[A] 8b 4:4:4(:4) (e.g. 'v308', 'v408', 'r408'). Of these working formats, SheerVideo currently supports only RGB 8b. We are in the process of adding others.

Please let us know what other pixel formats you need SheerVideo to support.

progressive/interlaced option

Prior versions of SheerVideo always automatically chose between interlaced and progressive-scan compression. However, some software, including Apple's own Component Video codec, omits the requisite progressive/interlaced label.

Thus the Sheer Y'CbCr codecs now offer a manual override in the Sheer Settings dialog. QuickTime doesn't tell the encoder whether the data is progressive or interlaced before putting up the Compression Settings dialog, but you can check the setting afterward by looking for a p or i at the end of the Sheer video track's format name in some applications, such as QuickTime Player. For example,
    Sheer Y'CbCr 8bv 4:2:2p
versus
    Sheer Y'CbCr 8bv 4:2:2i

Note that this option only affects compression power. SheerVideo will compress the video with perfect fidelity even if the wrong scanning mode is chosen.

If you need SheerVideo to support interlaced RGB video, please let us know.

G3/G4 AltiVec option

For those of you with battery-devouring G4 PowerBooks, the Sheer Compression Options dialog now contains a switch to choose between G4 AltiVec accelerated code and an energy-saving pure G3 version.

tighter engine code

The SheerVideo engine code is now even tighter, resulting in most cases in a speed-up of about 5%. This has resulted in a slight change in the coding format. Videos created with old versions of SheerVideo are still supported with the free companion codec, SheerVideo Pro old.

extended preview period

This release of SheerVideo expires on 31 March 2003, giving you more time to evaluate it and tell us what else it needs.

feedback, please!

Is SheerVideo meeting your needs? Is it fast enough? Powerful enough? Do you want any additional features?

A PC/Windows version will be released shortly. Do you need support for any other platforms? Please let us know!

I hope this update is helpful. This bulletin is also available in German and French.

Cheers,

Andreas Wittenstein
President, BitJazz Inc.

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