Since the release of Expression Encoder 2 back in May of this year, we’ve been hard at work on new features. Today we are announcing Expression Encoder 2 SP1, which we plan to release by the end of the year as a free upgrade to Expression Encoder 2. There are a wide variety of enhancements across many areas of the product in this release and you’ll find a comprehensive list below. The three top-line features are: Silverlight 2 templates, H.264 support and WebDAV publishing available out of the box. Additionally, and consistent with a service pack release, we’ve fixed a decent number of bugs.

Silverlight 2 Player Templates

Our SIlverlight Player templates provide a quick and easy way to get a Silverlight video experience created including rich functionality such as DVD style chapter navigation, subtitles and metadata. With the advent of Silverlight 2, the first Silverlight release to including the .NET CLR, we have completely rewritten our player from the ground up.

MediaPlayer control

For starters, we’ve made a Silverlight 2 custom control called MediaPlayer. This is a core component shared by all of our new templates. It is completely customizable via our integrated “Edit in Blend”, just like the Silverlight 2 intrinsic controls.

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Some of the new properties of the player include

  • Utilization of Silverlight 2 controls e.g. buttons, sliders that can be independently styled
  • Use of the Visual State Manager to enable declarative states e.g. for fullscreen mode
  • Adaptive layout for better resizing
  • Playlist support in all players (including metadata display)
  • Byte-range seeking: When a user clicks forward on the timeline into a non-downloaded region, the player will cancel the current progressive download and start a new one from the point that has been seeked to.

You can use the MediaPlayer control outside of our player templates simply by referencing the project (source code included in the box). It is quick and easy to get up and running in XAML. Reference the control and instantiate thus:

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When editing in Blend, rich UI is available for editing properties (e.g. playlists as shown here:)

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Finally, we’ve removed all of the complex JavaScript needed to invoke the player from an HTML page; this is now accomplished with a simple <object/> tag.

H.264 encoding for devices

Since we shipped our V1 release, we’ve heard loud and clear from customers that they’d like more output formats than just VC-1. One of the most common scenarios that kept cropping up is content producers that are embracing Silverlight for web video but also wish to make the content available as a Podcast for devices.

We are therefore happy to announce that, starting with V2 SP1, we are adding H.264/AAC encoding to the product. For this release we are supporting two device profiles: a baseline 320x240 for smaller flash memory based devices and a 640x480 profile for larger screen resolutions.

Since it has been announced that Silverlight is going to support H.264 you can expect us to broaden our encoding support for the format in the future.

A/B compare enhancements

Band mode allows you to drag out a number of bands (as many or as few as you need) to better discern the difference between original and encoded videos. As before, you can play back in the mode and rotate the bands through 90 degrees.

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Diff Mode plots the degree of difference of the source vs encoded as a luminance map. If the encoded clip is identical to the source, its difference would be rendered all black (this can be inverted by double-clicking).

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Audio Overlays

Audio overlays work just like video overlays only they now enable you to overlay an audio track complete with relative level and fade in / out.

They also enable a workflow for adding an external audio track to a mute video source and outputting a muxed A/V output.

We’ve also enabled the audio from a video overlay to be enabled / mixed in if desired.

WebDAV publishing in the box

Publish to IIS, Sharepoint and other servers that support the WebDAV protocol.

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Bug fixes / minor features

There is a reasonably large list of small fixes that have gone into this release, many too minor to mention. The following are the more noteworthy:

· Copy/paste markers and script commands: e.g. to/from Excel

· Cancelling multi-file encode no longer deletes completed items

· Removing items from jobs no longer deletes output

· Enhanced trimming of overlays (from front, drag middle)

· Run encode as background priority: so you can still use your machine for other tasks. Controllable via a setting

· Mouse wheel support for zooming, mouse pan support

· Enhanced Warning Triangles

· Better default for cropping output. E.g. If you have a 16:9 video that only had 4:3 video inside it, if you choose 4:3 output and select crop, we’ll automatically crop out the correct portion in the middle.

· Edit in Visual Studio option for templates

· Couple of additional VC-1 advanced encoding properties

· We now index unindex WMV/ASF files

· Source Mode stream copying will now work even for cases where we don’t support the source CODEC as an output type in our UI e.g. WMScreen

So there we have it. As always, feedback gratefully received,

Hope this helps

The Expression Encoder Team