Microchip Helen, Brandon04

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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

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