22 February 2011
You should have a basic knowledge of the Flash Professional user interface and a basic knowledge of working with FLA files. Certain features, such as H.264 codec support, are available only in Flash Player 9.0.115 and later.
Adobe Flash Professional CS5 offers a range of tools and features that allows you to add video easily to web pages. To help you achieve best results, this learning guide will help you understand video development and deployment techniques.
This section of the Video Learning Guide for Flash provides an overview of key concepts and terminology related to web video and the video formats supported by Adobe Flash Player.
The following steps describe how to create web video content and publish it online. The procedures for creating and publishing on-demand (prerecorded) video are different from those for creating and publishing live video.
Note: To capture and publish live video, use Flash Player and Adobe Flash Media Server. For more information, see the Flash Media Server Developer Center. For higher-quality live video, you can also use Flash Media Live Encoder.
Video and the web seem ideally matched. Video is the medium that most closely echoes our day-to-day visual experiences, and the web is a boundless playground filled with interesting content. You might expect, therefore, that thousands of compelling websites would integrate video with data, content, and interactive controls to create rich experiences that go beyond what is possible with video on a television set.
Unfortunately, early video content on the web was often relegated to a simple rectangle of content playing back on a computer monitor, usually in a separate pop-up window covering the website page that spawned it. The video images were often small and ugly, and the overall experience was poor.
In the past, several technical challenges kept designers from using video content to its full potential, including the following:
Video is a data-intensive format, requiring megabytes of data to display even short video clips. The growth of broadband has greatly reduced this technical obstacle. Increasingly large numbers of site visitors have the bandwidth required to receive video content via the web, but file size can still present a problem for many visitors.
The tool sets for creating interactivity, navigation control, and fusion of video with other rich media content had not been standardized. Furthermore, the majority of video playback clients were not pre-installed on most visitors' systems, so many visitors had to pause to download a plug-in or third-party application before they could view video.
Most video formats for the web offer no rich media capabilities beyond playback of video in a rectangular window. Fortunately, video created for Adobe Flash Player (which presents video content seamlessly and in context, in a form that site visitors can view using Flash Player) overcomes these issues. For more information, be sure to learn about NTSC and PAL video standards.
Video encoded for Adobe Flash Player comes in two "container" formats: FLV and F4V. F4V is the newer format, and the video that it contains is encoded with the H.264 codec. F4V playback is supported in Flash Player 9.0.115 and later. The FLV format supports the On2 VP6 codec for Flash Player 8 and later. Flash Player 9.0.115 and later can also play back any MPEG-4 compatible format including MP4, M4U, MOV, MP4V, 3GP, and 3G2.
The FLV and F4V video formats offer technological and creative benefits that allow designers to create immersive, rich experiences that fuse video together with data, graphics, sound, and dynamic interactive control. The advantages of using Flash Player to present video online appear below.
Since the introduction of the FLV video format in 2002, Flash Player has become the most widely installed Internet video client, running on over 98% (Flash Player 9 ubiquity December 2010) of all Internet-connected personal computers. Also, Flash Player runs on a wide variety of platforms and operating systems. The ubiquity of Flash Player ensures that most visitors can view Flash video without downloading additional plug-ins, so you can reach more people with lower development, testing, and support costs.
Web-based video integrates seamlessly into your website, and you can add a new "skin" on your video content to customize your branding and design unique video playback controls. You can also set the size and aspect ratio of your video, and the video can dynamically change based on a data source.
Video for Adobe Flash Player provides immersive and interactive experiences. Because Flash Player treats video as simply another media type, you can layer, script, and control video content just like any other object in a SWF file. Video is an integral part of the viewing experience, as opposed to a separate pop-up window that interrupts the experience.
The following image shows a sophisticated example of a web page containing web video synchronized to text and graphics. The superimposed dotted blue outline shows the boundary of the area where the SWF file is displayed; the dotted red outline shows the boundary of the area where the web video (FLV or MPEG-4) file is displayed, as part of the SWF content (see Figure 1). A SWF file can contain graphics, text, and client logic (for creating video controls, for example). It can refer to an external video file, and it plays in Flash Player. The video file contains primarily audio and video, and it plays inside a SWF file.
The following is a list of tools, features, servers, and services that you can use to create and deliver compelling web video experiences.
Flash Professional CS5 is the primary tool used for producing the Flash video user interface:
In addition to Flash CS4 Professional, you will most likely find that using some additional tools will greatly increase your video production and delivery options:
Before you can use video on your website, you need to decide how to deliver the video: either as a progressive download or as a streaming video. (One important distinction to note is that video files download progressively by default. Use of Flash Media Server is required to deliver streaming video.)
Note: A third option is to embed video in the Timeline of the Flash FLA file. However, this is recommended only for very short video clips with no audio track.
Table 1 can help you decide which delivery option to use. Find your situation in the left column and then see which delivery options are recommended. If two options are marked, then either one is recommended.
Table 1. Web video delivery options
|Clip is under 5 seconds long||*||*|
|Clip is 5–30 seconds long||*||*|
|Clip is over 30 seconds long||*|
|Low viewership expected||*|
|Medium to high viewership expected||*|
|Intellectual property protection||*|
|Live video streams||*|
|Variable streaming rates based on visitor's bandwidth||*|
|SMIL usage to control file selection||*|
For more information about delivery options, see the Progressive and streaming video section of the Video Learning Guide for Flash.
After choosing a delivery option, choose which authoring tool to use—Flash or Dreamweaver:
For more information about these authoring options, refer to the Adding video to a web page section of the Video Learning Guide for Flash.
For the latest articles and resources from Adobe related to video on the web, visit the Video Technology Center. The Capturing, digitizing, and importing section of the Using Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 online documentation may also be of help. Finally, be sure to check out other sections in the Video Learning Guide for Flash.