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Essentials of encoding

Expression Studio 2.0

In most common hardware and software configurations, encoding a video is the process of compressing the file to maximize quality while still enabling users who have varying playback capabilities to successfully play back the file. By using Microsoft Expression Encoder, you can encode your video and create a file that you can post on the web, distribute by Local Area Network (LAN) for high-quality playback, or play back on your Microsoft Zune device.

For playback on the web, Expression Encoder is optimized to take advantage of the media capabilities of Microsoft Silverlight. Silverlight is a technology that supports a true subset of the XML-based XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language). Silverlight lets you create next-generation, rich web client experiences, and delivers a lightweight client that supports vector graphics, 2D animation, rich audio and video integration, and a rich .NET Framework programming model. Silverlight is also cross-platform, supporting Windows Vista, Windows XP, and versions of Apple Macintosh OS X not earlier than 10.4.8. Silverlight is also cross-browser, supporting playback in all versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari. For more information about Silverlight technology, see the Silverlight Home page and the Silverlight Community page.

To create videos that use the rich presentation and extensive interactivity of Silverlight technology, you must encode your video using templates, which are included with Expression Encoder. These templates include graphically refined skins with attractively designed transport controls, and also components that integrate with the Silverlight client. This allows your video to use such Silverlight capabilities as captioning, rapid seeking, or script-command execution. For more information about how to use templates, see Encode using Silverlight templates.

If you do not use a Silverlight template, Expression Encoder will create a Windows Media Video (WMV) file that can be played in various scenarios. Without a template, you must play the file by using a standard media player, such as Windows Media Player. For more information, see Encode without templates.

Whether you use a template or not, Expression Encoder creates a file that is optimized for playback in the scenario that you choose. For example, you can create a video that is highly compressed so that it has a low bit rate, thereby enabling high-quality playback for users ranging from those who have a dial-up connections to those who are using high-speed LANs. Conversely, you can choose to encode a video with a high bit rate, thereby creating high-quality videos that target high-speed broadband users.

In Expression Encoder, encoding is a two-part process. First, you choose a profile, which contains all the encoding parameters, such as bit rate and video size. A profile defines how a video is compressed, and which method of playback is required to view it. You can use a default, pre-configured profile or you can create your own. Expression Encoder provides the Profile category (Encode panel) to set encoding parameters. Expression Encoder includes several advanced codec settings that enable you to precisely set specific parameters so that you can tailor your video to get the maximum quality playback for your target audience.

After you choose a profile, you specify the job output parameters, which determine the destination and appearance of the output file. Choosing a template is one of your options when you set the job output parameters. Expression Encoder will apply this template to each video in your current job.

After you have completed this setup process, you can encode your video.

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