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Working with Settings, Destinations, and Actions in Compressor 3.5

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This lesson will detail targets, which consist of settings and destinations, and it will also cover actions that Compressor can apply after processing completes.
This chapter is from the book

The previous lesson discussed importing source media and managing the flow of jobs within the batches. This lesson will detail targets, which consist of settings and destinations, and it will also cover actions that Compressor can apply after processing completes.

Using Settings

Compressor installs with a series of predefined parameter files called settings that control the encoder and the output file destination. You can also create your own settings and destinations presets by modifying the Apple settings or by creating entirely new settings.

By default, the Settings window is a container for both the Settings and Destinations tabs. This default configuration keeps both of these preset groups in one convenient place.

Choosing Settings

Compressor encodes source media according to a collection of parameters and options known as a setting. Compressor installs a library of Apple settings for the most common digital media distribution platforms. These settings are divided into four groups: Apple Devices, DVD, Formats, and Other Workflows.

Within each group, a hierarchy of folders is increasingly platform specific as you navigate through the path to an individual setting.

Choosing Settings in the Inspector

Settings remain dormant until you either add them to a job in the Batch window—a target—or interact with them in the Inspector window (refer to Lesson 1 for information on the Inspector).

Select a setting or group from the list to open it in the Inspector window

The Encoder pane of the Inspector window displays the core parameters of each setting, and depending on the exact setting you select, the Encoder pane will display one of three templates:

Searching for Settings

The Apple settings in the Settings window have a logical organization by encoded file type or output media. For example, you’ll obviously find settings for creating the requisite files for DVD authoring in the Apple > DVD group. However, some settings are buried a bit deeper in the folder structure. For example, to locate Apple ProRes 422 (Proxy) you’d navigate to Apple > Formats > QuickTime.

You don’t have to know exactly where a setting is located or its exact name to find it. The Settings window has a dynamic search field that lets you enter words and phrases to narrow down the list of settings.

For example, typing Apple ProRes in the field returns the following list:

Compressor searches both the names and the descriptions of settings when performing searches. For example, typing dvcam returns these results:

Applying Settings to Jobs

When settings are applied to jobs in the Batch window, they create targets that comprise a setting, a destination, and an output filename. Jobs in the Batch window can have a single target or multiple targets applied to them.

In the Batch windows, you can apply settings to jobs using one of the following three methods:

Modifying the Apple Settings

The most convenient way to create a custom setting is to duplicate an Apple setting and then save the modifications as a unique preset.

If, for example, your movie is intended to become bonus material on an SD DVD, you could duplicate an Apple SD DVD setting, which will create an MPEG-2 setting in the Custom folder with the suffix “Copy” appended. Then you can adjust that setting as needed and save it.

A new custom setting is created in the Custom folder of the Settings window. Select the new custom setting to load it into the Inspector.

Saving Temporary Modifications to Settings

In addition to duplicating a setting in the Settings window, you can apply a setting to a job, modify the target, and then save those modifications as a new custom setting.

If you make any modifications that would work well for future encoding sessions, be sure to save them because after a batch is submitted for encoding, the setting reverts to its original parameters in the Settings window and any modifications are discarded.

In addition to displaying in the Settings window, custom settings will appear in the Custom folder of the target drop-down window, and in the Batch window in the New Target With Setting submenu of the shortcut menu.

Creating Custom Presets

Creating custom settings presets requires just a few additional steps and a little planning.

First, decide what type of encoding process the preset should address. Compressor offers the following options for custom settings:

Export Option

Primary Use


Uncompressed PCM audio for DVD or audio CD

DV Stream

Encoding for use in iMovie

Dolby Digital Professional

Compressed audio for DVDs. Compressor can produce both 2.0- and 5.1-format files.

H.264 for Apple Devices

High-quality video for iPods, iPhones, and Apple TV

H.264 for DVD Studio Pro

High-definition video assets for high-definition disc delivery

H.264 for Blu-ray

High-definition video elementary stream for Blu-ray Disc authoring

Image Sequence

Creates a sequence of still images from the source media; used primarily for CGI work


Compressed audio for Internet delivery and podcasting


Lower-quality/lower-bandwidth codec often used for VCD and cross-platform web delivery


Standard video encoder for SD DVD and HD discs


Produces high-quality web media at relatively fast encoding times; requires QuickTime 6 or later for playback (Mac or PC)

QuickTime Export Components

Suitable for cell-phone (3G) delivery or any third-party plug-in that is Compressor compatible

QuickTime Movie

Creates QuickTime container files with any of the available audio or video codecs

You create custom settings directly in the Settings window.

Organizing Custom Settings

Custom settings can be organized into specialized folders and applied to a job as a group, just like Apple settings.

The settings you’ve organized together can all be applied to a job by dragging the group folder from the Settings window onto the job in the Batch window.

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