Media Cleaner Pro has been around for almost ten years. First created by Darren Giles and the team at then video-production company Terran, Inc., the program has survived sales to two companies (first Media 100 and then discreet) while growing in power and capability.
After a few years in limbo, discreet—then a division of Autodesk and now referred to as just Autodesk—revived the program and created a Windows version to complement the Macintosh version. The Windows version, dubbed Cleaner XL, brought familiar tools to PC users, including an early entry into the software-only MPEG-2 compression powered by Media Excel's MPEG-2 codec.
Just as QuickTime's MOV or Windows' AVI format provides a "wrapper" for video clips compressed or played back with different codecs, Cleaner provides a shell for various codecs and formats. The practical benefit of this functionality is the ability for Cleaner to become a "one-stop shop" for compressing almost any format into any other format. QuickTime movies can be converted into Windows Media Video files; Real can be converted into Flash; MPEG-2 can be converted into H.264; and so on.
Cleaner XL 1.5 builds on that premise, offering several new features and codecs. Let's take a look at some of these.
Codecs and Formats
Cleaner XL 1.5 has two of the newest—and hottest—codecs and formats: Flash 8 Video and, via QuickTime, H.264. Flash Video has come on strong in recent years, given the number of Web sites that use Flash and the subsequent penetration of the Flash Player. Macromedia's recent licensing of On2's VP6 codec provided a high-quality codec for Macromedia to market under the Flash 8 Video banner.
H.264, also known as AVC or MPEG-4 Part 10, is the newest kid on the block as far as videographers are concerned, but it has a heritage spanning back two years to videoconferencing systems and a bright future as one of the three codecs chosen for Blu-ray and HD-DVD high-definition DVD players that will hit U.S. markets this month (March 2006). Both Flash 8 Video and H.264 scale well, meaning that they can be used for mobile delivery (cell phones and PDAs) all the way up to high-definition content.
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