Test Data



SheerVideo FAQ

Can I use SheerVideo for still images?

How do I use SheerVideo?

How does SheerVideo save me time and space?

Is perfect fidelity the same as losslessness?

What are the alternatives to SheerVideo?

What does SheerVideo do for me?

What is SheerVideo?

When is SheerVideo not the best option?

When is SheerVideo's perfect fidelity needed?

When is SheerVideo's power useful?

When is SheerVideo's speed useful?

Why doesn't SheerVideo compress as much as MPEG?

SheerVideoWhat is SheerVideo?

SheerVideo is a downloadable tool that makes working with professional-quality video twice as easy and twice as fun by making it twice as fast, twice as slim, and a whole lot more affordable, while maintaining perfect fidelity.

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SheerVideoWhat does SheerVideo do for me?

SheerVideo saves you time, space, and money.

SheerVideo saves you time by letting you store, transmit, and retrieve video with perfect fidelity more than twice as fast as you could with uncompressed video.

SheerVideo saves you space by slimming video down with perfect fidelity to less than half the bulk of uncompressed video.

SheerVideo saves you money by slashing your labor costs, storage costs, and transmission costs, and by letting you use commodity computers to avoid expensive video hardware costs.

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SheerVideoHow does SheerVideo save me time and space?

SheerVideo works by encoding component video with perfect fidelity to less than half its data rate, faster than it can be stored or transmitted, and decoding it back to the exact original faster than it can be received or retrieved.

Because SheerVideo is so powerful that it slims real-world video data down to less than half its bulk, SheerVideo takes less than half as much space on disk or tape as uncompressed video, and SheerVideo takes less than half the bandwidth to transmit as uncompressed video.

And because SheerVideo is so fast that it outpaces just about any storage device or transmission channel, the fact that SheerVideo has less than half the data rate means that SheerVideo takes less than half the time to store on disk or retrieve from disk as uncompressed video, and SheerVideo takes less than half the time to transmit as uncompressed video.

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SheerVideoWhen is SheerVideo's perfect fidelity needed?

SheerVideo's perfect fidelity is essential in all situations where video quality cannot be compromised.

Examples include movie production and postproduction, archival, medical imaging, intelligence, and scientific research. In the abstract, perfect fidelity is critical whenever the video will be analyzed, edited, or otherwise processed.

In movie production and postproduction, the countless hours invested by all those artists would be in vain if, while editing the picture to perfect it, the very process of retrieving and storing it for editing were to degrade the picture instead. Even if each of the myriad editing steps involved in production and postproduction were to introduce only imperceptible artifacts, distortion, noise, and other errors, the cumulative effect after all those steps would be unwatchably ugly. [In home videos and other DV-quality work, such cumulative degradation is tolerated because of lower expectations, by minimizing editing, and out of budgetary necessity.] SheerVideo obviates this problem by storing and retrieving with perfect fidelity.

The point of archival is to preserve the content in a pristine state for future use, for possibly unforeseen purposes. Archiving video in degraded form, even if acceptable by today's standards for today's purposes, may make it unacceptable as standards improve, and make it useless for other purposes in the future. SheerVideo solves this problem by archiving with perfect fidelity.

In medical, intelligence, and scientific imaging, where lives and careers may be in the balance, compression artifacts may lead to unfortunate incorrect conclusions. SheerVideo's perfect fidelity prevents such mishaps.

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SheerVideoWhen is SheerVideo's power useful?

SheerVideo's power is useful whenever space or bandwidth is at a premium and video degradation cannot be tolerated.

Examples include component-video storage and transmission.

For video storage, SheerVideo's compression power means that by storing in Sheer format instead of uncompressed formats, your video files take up less than half as much space, so you save more than half of your disk space. In other words, with SheerVideo, you can fit more than twice as much video on all your disks and tapes. For example, 1 hour of broadcast-quality standard-definition video takes about 70 GB uncompressed. Encoded with SheerVideo, the same video takes only about 29 GB, for a space savings of 41 GB.

Disk storage space is getting cheaper all the time, so this might not seem like a big deal. But the consumption of disk space is increasing at a much faster rate than the price drop, so it is a big deal. Just ask any video editor if they've ever have enough disk space. In fact, just needing to spend less time scavenging disk space earns SheerVideo a blessing.

For video transmission, SheerVideo's compression power means that by transmitting in Sheer format instead of uncompressed formats, your video files take up less than half as much bandwidth, so you save more than half of your transmission bandwidth. In other words, with SheerVideo, you can fit more than twice as much video at once through any transmission channel. For example, if you need to send a 30-second spot of standard-definition broadcast-quality commercial video to a client, it will take about 54 minutes to transmit that uncompressed over a T1 line. Encoded with SheerVideo, the same spot takes only around 22 minutes. That's the sort of advantage that can help you beat a critical deadline.

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SheerVideoWhen is SheerVideo's speed useful?

SheerVideo's speed is useful in any time-critical situation where high-quality video is a must.

Examples where SheerVideo's speed is useful include high-resolution capture, playback, editing, and archival.

For real-time video capture, SheerVideo's unrivalled speed makes it possible to digitize studio-quality standard-definition video, encode it on the fly in Sheer format on a current low-end personal computer, and store it on a single ordinary-speed hard disk in real time. Without SheerVideo, this would only be possible with expensive SCSI or RAID equipment.

Likewise, for real-time playback, SheerVideo can take that same studio-quality standard-definition video, stream it off that ordinary hard disk, and decode it on the fly and display it in real time at full resolution and frame rate on that low-end personal computer, without SCSI or RAID.

As another example of SheerVideo's value for real-time video capture and playback, SheerVideo's peerless speed makes it possible to capture, encode on the fly, and store the highest-definition HD video to software-RAIDed inexpensive FireWire 800 disk drives, or to retrieve it off those disks, decode it on the fly, and display it in real time. Without SheerVideo, FireWire 800 is simply too slow to handle HD.

Video editing is another excellent example of the value of SheerVideo's speed. Video editing is a laborious, repetitive process. During production of a single shot, artists may apply dozens of filters and effects to the shot. Each such filter or effect typically has to be applied to every single frame in the shot. And for each filter or effect, the artist may try dozens of variations before settling on one. If a shot is 5 minutes long, and you apply one dozen variations of one dozen filters and effects to the shot, that will take 12 hours in real time. A sizeable fraction of that time, especially for simple filters, is spent just spooling video on and off the disk. SheerVideo, because it is so powerful and fast, can cut hours off that time.

For digital video archiving, SheerVideo is heaven-sent. The codecs video archivists typically use for archival, such as PNG and PhotoJazz, run 60 times slower than SheerVideo. This means that whereas archiving 1 hour of standard-definition studio-quality video takes around 16 hours for Apple's excellent PNG implementation, it takes only around 16 minutes for SheerVideo.

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SheerVideoWhat are the alternatives to SheerVideo?

When quality cannot be compromised, there are no good alternatives to SheerVideo.

For native video (Y'CbCr) formats, the only alternative to SheerVideo is uncompressed Y'CbCr[A] video, which is twice as slow, twice as bulky, and requires a lot of expensive hardware.

For CGI and digitized film (RGB) formats, there are three alternatives to SheerVideo: uncompressed RGB[A], wimpy RGB[A] codecs, and sluggish RGB[A] codecs.

Uncompressed RGB[A] is twice as slow, twice as bulky, and much costlier to use than SheerVideo.

Wimpy RGB[A] codecs such as Animation, while excellent for constant-shaded 2-dimensional animation, compress real-world content only by a factor of 1.06, which is negligibly better than uncompressed (1.00), so, like uncompressed, Animation is twice as slow, twice as bulky, and much costlier to use than SheerVideo.

Sluggish RGB[A] codecs such as PNG, Microcosm, and PhotoJazz, while excellent for still images, are so slow that they're essentially unusable for video. SheerVideo is 57 times faster than PhotoJazz, 60 times faster than PNG, and 72 times faster than Microcosm. So where SheerVideo takes seconds, these codecs take minutes, and where SheerVideo takes minutes, they take hours. As a result, they too end up being much costlier to use than SheerVideo.

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SheerVideoHow do I use SheerVideo?

SheerVideo is a file containing a set of QuickTime components that extend the functionality of QuickTime and thereby extend the functionality of all applications that use QuickTime, which includes essentially all video applications on Mac and PC, as well as some applications on Linux.

Once you've installed SheerVideo by dropping it into the appropriate QuickTime folder in your computer, you can use SheerVideo seamlessly in your workflow within and between all your video applications, just as you would use any other QuickTime image codec. Except that using SheerVideo is faster and more fun.

The SheerVideo components are standard QuickTime image codecs, so when you choose a Sheer compressor, you will end up with a Sheer video track in your QuickTime movie, just as choosing, say, the Photo JPEG compressor will give you a Photo JPEG track in your QuickTime movie. In contrast to a movie codec such as MPEG-2, SheerVideo does not use its own proprietary file format, so when using SheerVideo, all the familiar facilities of QuickTime movies are available to you.

Note that SheerVideo is currently available only for Mac. A Windows/PC version will be released soon, and a Linux version is under development too.

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SheerVideoCan I use SheerVideo for still images?

Yes. BitJazz has not yet defined a SheerImage file format, but you can store an RGB[A] Sheer-encoded still image in a PICT file (.pct) or a QuickTime Image File (.qtif). A SheerVideo PICT file can be opened by any application that knows how to open PICT files, which includes essentially all Mac applications that use pictures in any way.

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SheerVideoWhen is SheerVideo not the best option?

SheerVideo is generally not the best choice for DV-25, for existing proprietary hardware systems, for poster-quality content, or for distribution.

For DV-25 and other consumer-quality video formats, SheerVideo's perfect fidelity is overkill. Although some DV producers use SheerVideo for its superior speed and fidelity, its higher data rate is a significant drawback, and most DV editing applications, such as Apple iMovie, Avid Xpress DV, and Apple Final Cut Express, do not support any codecs other than DV.

Many existing proprietary hardware systems convert all video to a proprietary internal format. Such systems can import and export SheerVideo, but cannot substitute SheerVideo for their proprietary format.

For poster-quality content such as title screens and constant-shaded 2-dimensional animation, Apple's Animation codec provides superior compression.

For distribution, file size is generally much more important than speed and fidelity, so distribution codecs such as Sorenson and MPEG are preferable.

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SheerVideoWhy doesn't SheerVideo compress as much as MPEG?

SheerVideo is a perfect-fidelity codec that truly compresses video, by packing all of it more efficiently, without throwing any of it away, so that the restored image is an absolutely exact bit-for-bit identical reproduction of the original. As such, SheerVideo cannot compress the video beyond the intrinsic amount of information in the data.

MPEG and JPEG and all other codecs that appear to be much more powerful than SheerVideo are approximating codecs that "compress" video by discarding (hopefully) less-important information, thereby inevitably degrading the picture. There is no theoretical limit to the "compression" power of an approximating codec. After all, an approximating codec can achieve infinite "compression" power by throwing away all the image information, yielding a zero-length file. Of course, such an extreme codec wouldn't be very useful, since all infinitely compressed videos would look indistinguishable, but it could make a great gag.

So comparing the true compression power of a perfect-fidelity codec to the supposed "compression" power of an approximating codec is about as meaningful as comparing apples to apple peels.

To understand this distinction, take the everyday example of a suitcase overstuffed with clothing. A true, perfect-fidelity clothing codec gets all the clothing to fit in the suitcase by folding it more neatly, packing it more efficiently, and squeezing the air out until the suitcase can be closed and buckled. An approximating clothing codec, in contrast, cheats by tossing hopefully less-important articles of clothing in the wastebasket until the suitcase is empty enough to close.

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SheerVideoIs perfect fidelity the same as losslessness?

"Lossless" and "losslessness" originated as technical terms in the field of communications engineering, to describe systems that do not lose (nor gain) any information or entropy, as opposed to "lossy" and "lossiness", which refer to systems that do lose (or gain) information. However, although these terms are fun to pronounce, they have yet to find their way into unabridged dictionaries, and most laypeople draw a complete blank when they encounter the terms. Perhaps because of the lack of any readily accessible authoritative definition, the terms have been thoroughly abused by unscrupulous marketers hawking supposedly "lossless" codecs that, when pressured, turn out to merely "visually lossless", "virtually lossless", or some such similar mumbo-jumbo. As a result, even many technical people in the field have a confused understanding of these terms.

So originally, yes, losslessness meant perfect fidelity. But "perfect fidelity" is plain language that everyone understands, and is thus hopefully immune to marketing abuse.

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