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Final Cut Pro Power Tip: Creating a Compressor Droplet

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Apple's Compressor application makes compressing video files easy, but Larry Jordan knows a way to hurry up that process. Create a "droplet" with your favorite formatting, and you can compress a file with drag-and-drop speed.

Final Cut Pro is great for editing video, but it isn’t so great when it comes to compressing video.

Whether you need your video compressed for the Web or DVD, you should use an application other than Final Cut. When you want to compress video for DVD, a really good option is to use an application that Apple includes with both Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Studio: Compressor.

Compressor’s main purpose in life is to compress video and audio. Which is, um, great—but, frankly, compressing video is not one of the highlights of my life. So anything I can do to decrease the amount of time I spend compressing my files is a big plus in my book.

This is where compression "droplets" come in. A droplet is an automated way to compress a file.

One of the advantages of using Compressor to create your MPEG-2 files for DVD Studio Pro is that once you have your settings the way you want them, you don’t need to change them, just reuse them—over and over. And the fastest way to do this is to create a droplet, which you can save as an icon on your desktop.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Open Compressor.
  2. Go to the Presets > Settings window (see Figure 1).
  3. Select the preset that you want to turn into a droplet. In Figure 1, I’ve chosen a custom preset called "Larry’s Great Preset" in the "My DVD presets" folder. You can use any preset you want.
    Figure 01

    Figure 1 On the Settings tab in the Presets dialog box, select the preset you want to turn into a droplet.

  4. Click the middle icon of the three at the top of the window, as shown in Figure 2. This action allows you to save your setting as a droplet. A droplet contains all the different settings that make up your preset.
    Figure 02

    Figure 2 The middle button converts a preset to a droplet. Droplets act like scripts to apply all the settings in your preset to whatever video clip you want to compress.

  5. In the Save dialog box, tell Compressor where to save the droplet, as shown in Figure 3. I generally keep droplets on my desktop to make them easy to access. (You can store them anywhere.) Then specify where you want to save the compressed files. In my case, I find it best to store the compressed files on my second drive.
    Figure 03

    Figure 3 Give your droplet a name, specify where you want the droplet icon to appear, and indicate where compressed files should be stored.

  6. Click OK. The droplet icon shows up on your desktop (or wherever you decided to save it), as shown in Figure 4.
    Figure 04

    Figure 4 Here’s the cute icon for the droplet we just created.

  7. Here’s the great part: When you’re ready to compress a video file, drop it on top of the droplet. You don’t even have to open Compressor. A dialog box appears, telling you that things are getting ready (see Figure 5).
    Figure 05

    Figure 5 This is the good part. Drag a file to be compressed onto the droplet icon; then watch as everything happens automatically.

  8. Make any necessary changes to the preset (see Figure 6). While I generally don’t use this dialog box to change compression settings, I might alter the location where the compressed files get stored or how they’re named.
    Figure 06

    Figure 6 This dialog box allows you to override the default settings of your droplet to change the destination or filenames.

  9. Click Submit. Your file is compressed while you go about your everyday work. No muss, no fuss.

When it comes to compression, once I have my settings the way I want them, I want to compress files as fast and painlessly as possible. Droplets make that very easy.

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