Converting Video to Flash Files for the Internet

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    • #39636
      AvatarMicrochip
      Participant

      πŸ™‚ Hello again gurus of videomaking! Have you got any ideas about this:

      I made a video which runs about 11 minutes long. For the purpose of putting it on a web page, I had to cut it down to about 7 minutes since Flash Video MX couldn’t convert beyond a certain amount of frames (16,000).

      The original video is AVI and I selected the settings in Flash Video MX which would make the finished product suitable for Internet delivery, reduced it in size to 375 by 250 pixels, and also selected "de-interlace" since I read here on this forum recently that de-interlaced video is better for viewing on a computer monitor.

      Flash Video brought the original video from 2.2 gigabytes as an AVI to 64 megabytes as a SWF file. I uploaded the SWF file and inserted it onto the html page. Well, it takes FOREVER to load on a high speed connection. Don’t even talk about dial-up – it’s hopeless in that situation.

      Can I do anything to get this video to load more quickly – not including cutting it down to 4 minutes or streaming it?

      I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.

      πŸ™‚

  • #171089
    AvatarMicrochip
    Participant

    A lot of info here! http://www.videomaker.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=26136&highlight=flash#26136

    Virtual Scribe, if you read this, haven’t I done it correctly, save for the final output which is a SWF file instead of FLV – or is that crucial?

    Compusolver, in what format do you put the wedding clips onto your site?

  • #171090
    Avatarbrandon0409
    Participant

    Yes I was wondering this too for future reference.

  • #171091
    AvatarAnonymous
    Inactive

    Microchip Helen, Brandon0409 and anyone else wondering,

    Adobe Flash used to be Macromedia Flash just before Adobe purchased Macromedia in April 2005. Macromedia predicted the emergence of online video and experimented heavily and are still doing so in order to create demand for their content producing tools. Their first trial was output of content to SWF. This is the incorrect way to do it. As you found out, Microchip Helen, this is simply converting each frame of video into jpeg form and placing it on a keyframe. While flash is very good at serviing up vectors, it is not the best at moving very heavy jpeg data frame after frame after frame.

    Their next innovation was using flash the way it was meant, and separating the flash player from the flash video. You can opt to use a thousand freeware opensource flash players found online (5-10kb), or use the default builtin Macromedia/Adobe flash component players which come in at about 40-50kb. The way most programmers including me do it, is to use software to create FLV (FLashVideo) from source. And then build a very slick, 2kb swf player. This document can be called player.swf and inside it resides about 200 lines of code to control the external content.flv file. So instead of hundreds of thousands of frames of flash, you have 3 frames in your swf document. On the first frame it could have your name or your overlay logo, telling flash to visit frame 2. The next frame simply has a stop(); action in it and calls the video and play/pause or volume controls. At the end of your video you go to frame 3 and thank your visitor for watching or go back to frame 1.


    player.swf ----------------------------> content.flv
    2kb                                             64Mb

    FLV currently comes in 2 flavors. It is a proprietary format and even this flv format is evolving. Sorenson was the first company to be used for the professional conversion codec, it was the Sorensen 3 Spark codec in Flash MX 2004. The next iteration in less than 18 months was using the ON2 vp6 codec when Flash 8 came out. So to answer your question use your tools to export to FLV. And then find a freeware player to pull in the FLV or build your own player to pull in your FLV document. Don’t ever go back to pulling 64Mb worth of flash swf unless you are delivering vectors on CD/DVD.

    The first step you can take is using built in exporters which exist in most major video editing tools. They do the job, but produce passable video but you can see the macroblocks in the resulting video. These are single pass tools. The real magic comes when you can purchase pro tools which allow you the subtle dual pass tool. Currently only http://www.Sorensonmedia.com and http://www.on2.com create dual pass tools for progressive downloadable video. Each of these solutions are in the $500 range for new purchase. It doesn’t sound like you need streaming media on the super expensive proprietary $4500 solution which serves up streaming media. Experiment with the freeware tools, I hear Riva has a freeware player. http://www.rivavx.com/?encoder and this is a free encoder. Limited inputs, but if you like it, pay something to keep developments like this going on. Just $5 or $15 would keep these developers churning out really great software. I use his standalone RIVA player to test out my flv documents before I put them online, and he did an amazing job with the standalone player. Simply drag your flv from any of your content and drag/drop to preview it before FTPing the entire document online.

    Summary: Export to FLV. If you can afford it, export using dual pass to FLV. Play using a small swf player embedded in your online document.

    Cheap tools use single pass encoding. When you want pro looking work purchase the dual pass encoders. Sorenson to target flash 6,7 players with average or older processors on their computers, depending on your target user base. My user base is made up of a very wide range, so I am currently using Sorenson. If your target user base has powerful processors on their machines go for the ON2 vp6 tool. It plays for flash 8 players and above for your clients who have powerful processors on their cutting edge machines. The main drawbacks for me currently are that on2 vp6 takes a much longer time to encode, and that company’s tool looks like it was thrown together by a non designer. Sorenson has lower video quality, but takes correspondingly less online viewer processor power to decode. It also has an interface which was designed incredibly well, and takes me less time to encode into flv than on2 vp6. Someone took a lot of time and care in designing Sorenson’s tool, and it shows in the detail of that software. There are drawbacks to each, but there are also advantages to each proprietary codec.

    I think Flash MX exported only to swf. Flash 2004 MX began exporting to flv, Sorenson Spark 3 codec. Flash 8 began export to flv using ON2 vp6 codec.

    I know it’s your first or initial trials, but put a link up so that we can see what it looks like on your online document and experience your work. Unless we can see what you’re doing, talking about it is all just theory. My own work is evolving with technology, but this is what my encoded client videos look like:

    http://www.sharingmyjoy.com

    =====================
    virtualscribe
    http://www.sharingmyjoy.com
    Share your wedding video online

  • #171092
    Avatarbirdcat
    Participant

    There’s also a program called Flix form On2 Technologies that takes a video and converts it to FLV or SWF (with various settings).

    http://www.on2technology.com/technology/flix-features/

    Their standard (single pass only) product is only $39 and their pro (multipass) version is $249. I use the standard version and have had no problems with it.

  • #171093
    AvatarAnonymous
    Inactive

    Microchip Helen,

    Your video looks amazing, but you’re right, there is a bit of a lag. I am saying this without knowing your export settings, but I suspect that you should decrease your bitrate. Most people I know do not have more than a 500kbps line to experience content. And some people are still using 128kbps lines. I test my content, and create it for consumption between 300 – 500 kilobits per second. This level of bitrate allows for clean video, but still puts it within the high speed access lines, so even people with a bit of a lag or in a corporate network with congestion can view the video without problems. The idea in this kind of delivery is to keep your content at a rate below what they can consume, and build a bit of movement space, so that if their bandwidth freezes for a moment your content has progressively downloaded enough that they can watch without noticing or getting to the edge of your progressive download. I have high speed access lines, but I think your current setup encodes to very very high bitrate from the quality of your video I am seeing. I got the same results as you did when I watched your video, it got me stuck for a while, then downloaded more, then got stuck for a bit, then downloaded again.

    You can afford to reduce your quality and bitrate a bit so that the user can begin watching as the file continues to progressively download. Birdcat suggested the $39 version, and for that price you can experiment. There is give and take, you give up a little bit of quality but get a smaller filesize. Good job on your website; I’m sure your project will turn out amazing results.

    ________________________
    virtualscribe
    http://www.sharingmyjoy.com

  • #171094
    AvatarMicrochip
    Participant

    Virtual Scribe, thanks for such a thorough reply and your compliments too. πŸ˜€ I will get into advancing my knowledge of FLV files, bitrates and all that affects video on the web.

    Thanks also Birdcat for your suggestion, I’ve taken a look at the On2 site. Brandon – take good note, these guys know their stuff!! πŸ˜€

  • #171095
    AvatarMicrochip
    Participant

    Okay! I went back into the Flash Video MX program and adjusted the bit rate to 460 (it was 824!!) I left the audio bitrate at whatever the program chose (128). The video codec is called "Sorenson H.263" by default (there is no other option listed) and selected "generate FLV file" and "play FLV file outside".

    The end result is now about 32 megabytes (instead of 64) and it’s loading much faster now. I can see a drop in quality in the video in some areas, sometimes a scene looks a little pixelated but I notice that it happens with the clips that were not really sharp in the first place. (Actually, the whole thing was recorded using my Samsung Hi-8 Analog Camcorder.) πŸ˜€ Imagine that!

    Anyway, I’m very happy with it since I feel some of the pretty scenes were preserved.

    So, a question then: Should I buy Flash Video MX or On2 Technologies? Do you think one is definitely better than the other?

    Thanks again for such fine assistance.

  • #171096
    AvatarAnonymous
    Inactive

    Microchip Helen,

    I think if you really want to have your online consumers view your video you should create for their bandwidth, not yours. 460 is still very very high; try 300-400kbps for video, bump down the audio to 64kbps or 32kbps, and downgrade to mono. Again, the idea online is to deliver content to users which is practical. Give some quality to gain more viewership. If you need highest quality you have to ship them a DVD because current online bandwidth rates are not quite there. This is consistently where I as a web developer am very different from you as a videographer, because I fight for every kilobyte, and I measure my websites in shaving off kilobytes for optimal viewing. You work in Gigabytes, and can’t understand the need to get rid of data when you feel you are already settling for compression. Practicality is a difficult game.

    Purchase ON2 if you are strictly using flash video only. If you are going to experiment with creating FLASH documents to enhance your online customers’ experience purchase flash. But don’t buy flash MX, buy flash 8 or wait for the soon to come out flash CS3 package from Adobe. If you buy into CS3, you will be far ahead of all of us, and will have to slow down until we catch up to you.

    =======================
    virtualscribe
    http://www.sharingmyjoy.com

  • #171097
    AvatarMicrochip
    Participant

    Virtual Scribe, you are sooo right about working in gigabytes. I reduced the bitrate to 360 and the audio to 64 – some scenes are so pixelated at those settings :'( I really would like to keep the quality as high as possible. (I was catering for high-speed Internet, for now I have dial-up.)

    However, the area where the video appears is not meant to show video this long. It is for short clips which dissolve into one another – 2 minutes at most. This was my first upload of video and my website is new and only known to my friends for now.

    When I upload the clip intended for that spot, do you think I could still apply the bitrate, since the FLV will probably only be around 2 megabytes πŸ˜•

  • #171098
    AvatarMicrochip
    Participant

    Okay! I was looking at Getty Film http://creative.gettyimages.com/source/frontdoor/defaultfilm.aspx and I can see the pixels for sure here, and it really doesn’t detract from the video.

  • #171099
    AvatarAnonymous
    Inactive

    Microchip Helen,

    You are playing the seesaw game with low bitrate low quality vs high bitrate high quality. Most people who have broadband have about 500 kbps safe transfer if they are not downloading other things while watching your video, so I know as a video pro you want to give out the highest bitrate, but you will be safe if you encode between 300 and 400 kbps. Because people who download online video are usually doing other things in the background which decrease their overall bitrate. Like chatting on IM, doing social networking on MySpace or Facebook, downloading updates for their windows machines, or updating quicktime/itunes/acrobat for their mac machines. Some overhead has to be given so that your users can still do their everyday living and still view your content unobtrusively. That’s where the art of compression comes in; good luck !!!

    ==================
    virtualscribe
    http://www.sharingmyjoy.com

  • #171100
    AvatarMicrochip
    Participant

    πŸ˜€ Okay, it’s 360 now, I’ll keep them between 300-400 and remember to factor in the additional things going on the person’s PC. Thanks again for your assistance.

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