Using the Final Cut Pro Compressor Tool vs the Compressor Program

The Compressor Program is an integral part of Final Cut Pro because it is directly related to the final output of the video project. How you compress and encode the project will ultimately decide how people view it in terms of quality. Compressing and encoding programs are now a standard part of editing software but it was not always like that. It's only within the last seven years that the ability to encode video files was given to the masses. Now in that recent time we've become familiar with the Compressor Tool and the Compressor Program. So what's the difference? Well, it's tied into the development of encoders.

Pre 2003

Before 2003, everything that was considered digital video was originally recorded onto tape. These tapes had to be manually captured to the computer in order to be digitized. You would connect the tape player to the computer with a firewire. The editing program would have the ability to capture the video when being played back and this was how it was done and still is for some projects.

When the editing process was complete the project would then be exported to the tape. The computer would play the sequence back to the camcorder via the firewire and the camcorder would record it onto tape. Then in 2003 the compressor tool was available in Final Cut Version 4. Users now had the ability to encode their files into quicktime movies that could be played over the web as well as the ability to convert their work in MPEG 2 files, which allowed them to make DVDs out of their video. Before that you needed to pay someone who had the equipment a lot of money to encode your video.

The Compressor Program

As new versions of Final Cut were released, newer versions of Compressor were released along side it. It was always a stand alone program but as it became more advanced with the ability to convert video into more than quicktimes and MPEG files it started being referred to as the Compressor Program as opposed to the Compressor Tool when it was first released.

What's the Difference?

The early versions of the Compressor were called the Compressor Tool while the later versions are the Compressor Program. It's really just a marketing term. When it was able to handle just the basic functions of encoding and was considered new technology for editing programs it was a tool. As it became more advanced and became part of the post production process that we couldn't live without it was upgraded to the status of program.

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