Self-help message board
How to contact us
Web links directory
Tips and advice
Help Me, I'm new!
Fair pricing petition
Premiere 6 (trial)
Paint Shop Pro 7 (trial)
How to get started with
computer video editing
Join our ongoing campaign
big divide in the media encoding potential of Mac and Windows PCs has
forced Discreet to develop its Cleaner media encoding software separately
for each platform. Version 6 for the Mac was a massive letdown. Can
a completely rewritten Windows counterpart make amends?
Things haven't been
easy for Cleaner. It was once the most popular media encoding tool available,
but has changed hands and been remarketed too many times in recent years.
Regular updates have been few and far between, delaying implementation
of new streaming video Codecs, and responding poorly to the change in
market demands - particularly the growing interest in DIY DVD authoring.
Cleaner's MPEG encoding tools have traditionally been limited (unless
you spend an extra £800 on the MPEG SuperCharger board), and the
program has also been highly overpriced - especially for Windows, where
many first-rate encoding tools are available for very little money.
But the appeal of Cleaner is its ability to run batch encoding sessions
unattended, spitting out video in numerous formats while you go to the
pub, have dinner or catch some sleep.
Cleaner is available for Mac or Windows PCs, but a complete lack of
support for current Windows Media and RealVideo Codecs on the Mac, coupled
with the shortage of good, inexpensive Mac-based MPEG encoders has forced
Discreet to develop the program separately for each platform. Cleaner
6 for Mac, released earlier this year, was a big disappointment (review,
April 03, p66). Aside from the welcome addition of reasonable MPEG encoding
tools, and support for the latest version of QuickTime, the program
appeared to have taken a big step backwards. Things should be a lot
rosier under Windows, however, and Cleaner XL is promised to support
a wealth of formats, and also perform far faster than its predecessor,
A fresh broom
Cleaner XL has been completely rewritten, and does things a little
differently to previous versions. For a start, it now bluntly refuses
to install unless RealNetworks' RealOne player is already on the system.
This is annoying, as a user may not actually want the program for its
RealVideo support - or may monitor encoded footage on another computer.
RealOne isn't provided on the installation disc either - we had to go
online to get it. More importantly, there are now many people who flatly
refuse to install any of RealNetworks' software on their machines -
largely because of RealNetworks' reputation for adding 'spyware' to
its programs, allowing surfing and buying habits to be monitored for
more effective advertising via email (spam, in other words). The RealOne
license agreement clearly states that the program will do this, but
as the license is 7,367 words long, it's an easy detail to miss. And
if you want to use Cleaner, you've got no choice but to accept RealNetworks'
Cleaner's new interface and workflow will be a big surprise to many
existing users. There's already much talk about it on the internet,
with camps evenly split between users that strongly dislike the new
approach, and those that are adapting well. Either way, organisation
of jobs and batches isn't simple or intuitive, and we're certain that
the clever people at Discreet could come up with a quicker and easier
way of organising Cleaner's workflow if they put their minds to it.
As always, the program's selection of filters is good - with some great
improvements on the audio side - and previewing methods are also much
better than with version 5.
Cleaner is no longer alone in the do-it-all encoding market, though,
and pitched next to ProCoder, it falls down slightly in its MPEG encoding
quality and its lack of PAL/NTSC conversion tools. And no review of
Cleaner would be complete without a complaint about the price - at over
£500, we feel it's still too expensive, and that Discreet could
sell countless more copies if it cut the price in half. But this complaint
applies equally well to its nearest rival, ProCoder, and to Sorenson
Squeeze as well.
Read the full
feature in October 2003's Computer Video magazine.
Reviewed in October's
Cut Pro 4
VariZoom VZ-Rock & StealthZoom
Discreet Cleaner XL
DVD Burners Group Test
Canopus MPEG encoders cut hardware
Set-top Panasonic DVD
JVC video competition
Philips sticks with +R/+RW
Apple OS 10.3
Edius gets a makeover
SmartSound, smarter pricing
Casablanca Avio - Mark II
All-in-one Nero 6