Ben's 2009 Compression Classes at Portland State and Stanford

Sign in to queue


Wow, the year just keeps skipping past; this post has been on my to-do list for a month now.

And my compression classes are approaching apace, with signups for Stanford already open, and Portland State just a few weeks away! Beyond all the changes in the technology, I’ve got a structural change as well: the Portland State class is now going to be on three consecutive Saturdays, making it easier for people in the region to take without taking time off from work.

These classes are among the highlights of my year. I never learn faster than when I’m teaching, particularly when I get the great students that attend the sessions. Skill levels vary widely, and the course is designed to accommodate that. But everyone’s got something unique they’re trying to do, whether it’s a supervisor of a high-volume compression department getting up to speed on new formats, or an educator incorporating videos of marine animals into the classroom. And it’s hose real-world projects where the rubber meets the road. The focus of the classes is on hands-on art, science, and craft of video compression. It’s all about to get the best results out of real world content with real world workflows, within all the real-world constraints we have to operate under.

When Microsoft was recruiting me back in 2005, one of my top requirements was that keep on teaching these classes, with full freedom to cover the formats and technologies that matter, even if competitive with our own. It was an easy sell – they understand the value of me understanding everything. And of course, now that VC-1 is a SMPTE standard and Silverlight is getting H.264 support, the era of proprietary media formats is over anyway. So while we’ll certainly spend time with VC-1, WMV, and Silverlight, we’ll also cover MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Flash, DVD, Blu-ray, Ogg Theora, and other formats and players based on class interest.

Class time is roughly split between lectures/demos and hands on time doing projects. Each student gets their own workstation loaded with the latest and greatest compression software and related tools.

And I really encourage students to bring along some of their own content and projects, particularly one’s they’ve been having trouble with. Nothing beats that kind of variety of real projects to teach the tips and tricks of our craft.

Note that both classes offer academic credit, and so are generally covered by corporate education benefits.

Portland State University: Feb 7, 14, 21 (10am-6pm)

Compression for Digital Media (MP404)


This class is part of the PSU’s Multimedia Professional Program, one of the first digital media degree programs in the country. The class is available as an elective to those not in the program as well (we’re perhaps 50/50).

Since it’s on Saturdays, I expect we’ll see more commuters from around the Pacific Northwest this time around.

And it’s a rare pleasure for me to have something work-related to do that’s a 10 minute drive instead of an hour flight!

Stanford University: August 10-14

Mastering Video Compression


This is the one that started it all; 2009 makes it a full decade since the very first 2-day class I did for the Stanford library science department on authoring QuickTime for education . We’ve been doing the current week-long format for eight years now. The program that ran that class evolved in the Digital Media Academy, which now runs a very wide variety of classes. My 9 year old son came along last year to take a great LEGO Robotics course the same week. He and James Clarke (who took the class) really hit it off; the three of us can deliver quite a whirlwind of nerdish intensity.

Since it’s a one week intensive, it works as a destination class; we get people flying in from around the world. On-campus dorm rooms are available (and quite nice; I stay in one), with other lodging options available, and a meal plan.


Anway, that’s the schedule. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask below or contact me directly.

The Discussion

Add Your 2 Cents