Using Microsoft Expression Encoder
It does not matter where you look, video is dominating the Internet
By Matthew David
It does not matter where you look, video is dominating the Internet. Microsoft wants to make it easier for you to deliver video. It is clear with web sites such as YouTube that there is an insatiable desire for us to put our own video and shows on our Web sites. The Expression Encoder allows you to do exactly that.
The first impression of Expression Encoder is that it is more than just a utility to convert video into Web formats. The stylish black workspace, a trademark of the Expression tools, makes it easier for you to work with your source video.
You can drag and drop from many different video formats including MPEG, AVI, WMV and MOV. DRM encrypted video will not be imported into the Encoder. Once the video is in the Encoder you can choose to add additional video before and after the main video segment. The effect is the same as adding advertisements to a traditional video segment.
|Figure 1: Expression Encoder Interface|
Other features include setting up the video to do a live broadcast. You will need a Windows Media Server to do live broadcasting. Overall, it is very easy to manage your video content.
Putting it on the Web
The objective of the Expression Encoder is to enable you to easily place video on a Web site. The Job Output panel allows you to choose the presentation settings for the exported video content. This includes where on your hard drive you will store the video and the style, or skin, you will add to the video as it is presented through the Web browser. There are many different styles. The default is “Corporate Silver,” as shown below, but there are over a dozen different additional styles.
|Figure 2: The Expression Encoder Job Output Panel|
When you are ready to export to create your video, you need to select File-->Encode. The video will then be converted to use on the Internet. The power of your computer will determine how fast the video encoding process will take.
|Figure 3: Video Conversion Screen|
When everything is complete, the final encoded file will appear in your Web browser. The video you convert can be adjusted depending on the size of the final video you want on the Web. The scale goes from small postage size video all the way up to full screen HD quality video. This is impressive, as no other company has a product that allows you to stream live HD quality video over the Internet.
|Figure 4: The final Web ready result|
There is a caveat. The video is in SilverLight format. This means your users must have the SilverLight player. There is a good chance they do not have this (the player only came out in September) and you will have to provide instructions on how to download and install the player. The effort for this may be worth the work as the video quality is very impressive.
To put the final video on the Web requires moving a number of files. By default, Expression Encoder will create a subfolder called Output. You will find your encoded files there:
|Figure 5: Exported filed from Expression Encoder|
There are approximately 12 encoded files. The video file is the WMV file; the Web page is default.html; the important file is the XAML file. The XAML document describes what to do with the video file and how to present it.
Integration with WPF
The final encoded video is managed with a XAML file. This is great as XAML is part of Windows Presentation Foundation, or WPF, used in .NET 3.0 for Windows XP and Vista. This means you can take any Expression Encoded video and use it in any WPF project such as Expression Blends or eRain’s StandOut. The flexibility of Expression Encoder is already very impressive. It will be interesting to see how this tool matures with the video demands of the Internet.