Sunday 9 November 2014

Microsoft Expression Encoder

This post is not in response to a specific problem or question, but could be a response to a potential question from some one.

I was looking for a cost effective and easy to use tool for capturing screens and produce videos. There are many tools, in the freeware, shareware and commercial category for the purpose. But the one that I find interesting is the one from Microsoft, the Expression Encoder. While Microsoft has stopped supporting the commercial version of the product, the same is available as a free download. I am sure, many of you might know about this, but for those who are not, this post will give a glimpse, so that one can start using it and see its advantages.

Expression Encoder Pro is a component of the Expression Studio, which is currently not sold as a product. In addition to Expression Encoder Pro, the studio also bundles with it Expression Web, Expression Blend and Expression Design. Expression Web is intended for creation of responsive websites leveraging CSS3 and HTML5. Expression Blend is intended to build interactive UI for windows store applications. Expression Design, combined with Expression Blend and Visual Studio helps building innovative, user-centric, fast and fluid applications. Check out more about the changes and availability of Expression products on the microsoft site.

Let us look at what Expression Encoder can offer us. Expression Encoder 4 Screen Capture is also installed along with the Expression Encoder 4. The Screen Capture component offers you to record videos using the camera attached to the device / PC, record audio using the microphone, and to record the selected area of the screen.

On clicking the Record button, you will be prompted to select a rectangle area to capture and once done, you can continue with your actions on the screen as the recording continues.Once, done, you stop the recording and the output is produced as a .xesc file, which can be further edited using the Encoder.

To get your captured video encoded into a video output, you will perform the following using the Expression Encoder

  • Choose your project. 
  • Import your source video. 
  • Modify your video. 
  • Set preview and encoding options. 
  • Choose an output format. 
  • Render your video.
Getting used to was not very difficult and the product comes with a useful help document. The tool allows you to overlay visual still and moving image file, edit the sub titles, captions and descriptions, add audio streams, apart from allowing you to insert and cut parts of the source video.

Few of the limitations include, inabitlity to add more than one overlay, the supported output format limited to Windows Media Video (.wmv) and IIS smooth streaming. While the tool has much more capabilities, for the specific purpose of creating product demo or tutorial videos, this suits very well. As you know there are many tools out there to convert .wmv to other video formats, like .mp4.

Try it out and share your feedback here.

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