1 June 2009
Note: This is an update for Adobe Flash CS4 Professional of an older Quick Start tutorial, Using the Adobe Flash CS3 Video Encoder. If you are still using Flash CS3 Professional, please refer to that version. If you are using Flash Professional CS5, please refer to the updated version of this Quick Start tutorial, Using Adobe Media Encoder CS5.
Adobe Media Encoder CS4 is a stand-alone video encoding application that lets you encode audio and video in a variety of distribution formats:
The FLV and F4V formats let you easily incorporate video into a web page or Flash Professional document in a format that can be viewed using Adobe Flash Player. The H.264 video format lets you create video for use with Apple iPod, 3GPP mobile phones, Sony PSP, and other devices.
Note: Adobe Media Encoder provides different video export formats depending on the Adobe applications with which it is installed. When installed with only Adobe Flash CS4 Professional, Adobe Media Encoder provides export formats for Adobe FLV/F4V and H.264 video. When installed with Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 and Adobe After Effects, additional export formats are available.
This tutorial covers the following topics:
The FLV and F4V file formats are an integral part of the viewing experience, not a separate pop-up window that plays video externally and interrupts the experience. Flash Professional treats video as a media type; you can layer, script, and control video like any other object in a SWF file.
When you target specific versions of Adobe Flash Player, the F4V and H.264 formats can be viewed only in Flash Player 9.0.115 or later. The On2 VP6 codec is used for FLV files targeting Flash Player 8. The Sorensen Spark codec is used for FLV files targeting Flash Player 7.
When encoding video using Adobe Media Encoder, you can choose from three different video codecs with which to encode your video content for use with Flash Player: H.264, On2 VP6, and Sorenson Spark. A codec is an algorithm that controls how video files are compressed during import and decompressed during playback.
Support for the H.264 video codec was incorporated into Flash Player beginning with version 9.0.r115. F4V video is a container format for the H.264 video codec, also referred to as MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Encoding). The H.264 video codec provides higher quality video at lower bit rates than the Sorenson Spark and On2 VP6 video codecs used by earlier version of Flash Player. However, it is more computationally demanding than either of these codecs.
In addition to the F4V container format, Flash Player 18.104.22.168 and later versions support files derived from the standard MPEG-4 container format. These files include MP4, M4A, MOV, MP4V, 3GP, and 3G2, if they contain H.264 video or HE-AAC v2 encoded audio, or both.
Note: If you need to use video with alpha channel support for compositing, use the On2 VP6 video codec; F4V does not support alpha video channels.
The On2 VP6 codec is the preferred video codec to use when creating FLV files you intend to use with Flash Player 8 and later. The On2 VP6 codec provides the following:
To support better-quality video at the same bit rate, the On2 VP6 codec is noticeably slower to encode and requires more processor power on the client computer to decode and play back. For this reason, carefully consider the lowest common denominator of computer you intend your viewing audience to use when accessing your FLV video content.
Introduced in Flash Player 6, Sorenson Spark video codec can be used to publish Flash documents requiring backwards compatibility to Flash Player 6 and 7. If you anticipate a large user base that uses older computers, use FLV files encoded with the Sorenson Spark codec, as it is much less computationally demanding to play back than either On2 VP6 or F4V video.
Note: To see a list of encoding settings when you select from among the FLV/F4V presets, see the F4V and FLV encoding presets section of the Using Adobe Media Encoder CS4 online documentation.
Some filename extensions—such as MOV, AVI, MXF, FLV, and F4V—denote container file formats rather than denoting a specific audio, video, or image data format. Container files can contain data encoded using various compression and encoding schemes. Adobe Media Encoder can import these container files, but the ability to import the data that they contain is dependent on which codecs (specifically, decoders) are installed.
The free trial version of Adobe Media Encoder software, and trial versions of software applications with which it is installed, does not include some features that depend upon software licensed from parties other than Adobe. For example, some codecs for encoding MPEG formats are available only with the full version of Adobe Media Encoder software. You cannot encode the following file formats using the trial version: MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4; F4V; M4A; MP4; and 3G2. To import these file formats, you must register the software. For a list of file formats supported for import, see the File formats supported for import section of the Using Adobe Media Encoder CS4 online documentation.
Adobe Media Encoder can be used to edit your video and perform a range of pre-encoding production tasks. In addition, you can batch-process multiple video clips when you use a dedicated computer for video encoding. Batch processing produces an expedited workflow. For example, you can add, reorder, and change the encoding settings of files in the batch processing queue while Adobe Media Encoder encodes other video files.
When configuring encoding settings, you can select individual files and specify different settings based on the type of video format and quality required for each file, or you can select multiple files and specify the same settings for all of them.
Tip: You can also add files to the queue by dragging files directly into the list.
When you export with Adobe Media Encoder CS4, choosing an FLV or F4V format automatically makes available a list of associated presets designed for particular delivery scenarios. Selecting a preset, in turn, activates the appropriate options in the various settings tabs (Video, Audio, and so on). In most cases, one of the provided presets matches your output goals. However, you can also adjust the parameters of an existing preset and save it as a custom preset.
The encoding presets are based on the Flash Player version for which you intend to publish content and the data rate at which you want your video content to be encoded. By default, Adobe Media Encoder targets the F4V video format using the H.264 video codec for use with Flash Player 9.0.r115 and later, and the FLV format using either the On2 VP6 codec for use with Flash Player 8 and later, and the Sorenson Spark codec for use with Flash Player 7 and later.
Adobe Media Encoder starts encoding the first file in the video encoding list. While a file is being encoded, the Status column of the video encoding list provides information on the status of each video:
Completed files in the queue appear with a check mark in the Status column. They cannot be run through the queue again, but they can be duplicated to create a new item in the queue.
The FLV/F4V encoded files are saved to the same folder as the source video files with an .flv or .f4v file type to identify them. If you encode the same file more than once, an incremental number is appended to the filename for each additional encoding.
Note: The encoded FLV/F4V files will not be in the same folder as the source videos if you specified a new location in the Output File field in the encoding queue list or in the Output Name field in the Export Settings dialog (Edit > Export Settings).
Adobe Media Encoder lets you create custom video encoding settings to manage bandwidth, cue points, video size, and length.
Note: When editing multiple videos at once, you are not able to create or edit cue points, crop a video clip, or trim the length of the video; you must perform these actions separately on each video, or load an encoding profile which already contains these settings.
For more information, refer to the Custom encoding settings section of the Using Adobe Media Encoder CS4 online documentation.
In addition to the predefined video encoding profiles, you can save and load your own custom encoding profiles. Creating your own custom encoding profiles helps maintain consistency across videos when you want to encode several video files with the same settings. For example, if you were encoding multiple videos and each video had three versions (small, medium, and large) you could create an encoding profile for each quality level.
Cue points cause the video playback to trigger other actions within the presentation. For example, you can create a presentation that has video playing in one area of the screen while different text and graphics appear in another area synchronized to appear at specific times in the video.
Each cue point consists of a name, a type (ActionScript, Navigation, or Event), an optional parameters list (array of name value pairs), and the time at which it occurs. Cue point times are specified using the format 00:00:00.000 (hour:minute:second.millisecond).
Note: In addition to embedding cue points within the encoded video clip, you can create cue points using the FLVPlayback component. Using this component, you can create a cue point that is not embedded in the video clip itself, providing greater flexibility in triggering events. For more information, see the information on the FLVPlayback component in the Flash CS4 Professional ActionScript 3.0 Language Reference.
Note: You can add cue points to a single video only. You cannot select multiple videos and assign cue points to each of the videos.
To locate a specific time, drag the playhead to the point in the video where you want to embed a cue point. The video preview window lets you visually identify points in the video at which to insert a cue point. You can also use the elapsed time counter (located beneath the video preview window) to locate specific points in time at which to embed cue points.
Tip: For greater precision, you can use the Left and Right Arrow keys to move the playhead in millisecond increments. To do this, select the playhead, and then use the arrow keys to further adjust its position. The left or right arrows move the playhead by one thousandth of a second (0.001). Holding the Shift key down while pressing the left or right arrow keys moves the playhead by a hundredth of a second (0.01), and pressing the Ctrl key while pressing the left or right arrow keys moves the playhead by two tenths of a second (0.2).
Adobe Media Encoder embeds a cue point at the time indicated by the counter beneath the video preview window, and populates the cue point list with a placeholder for the name of the new cue point and the elapsed time at which the cue point is located (this is the time during playback when the event will be triggered), and displays a pop-up menu that lets you select the type of cue point to embed.
Note: Only one cue point can be embedded at a specified time code within the video clip.
Note: Adding additional keyframes can lower the overall quality of a video clip. For this reason, navigation cue points should only be used when users will need to seek to a particular point within the video.
Adobe Media Encoder also supports loading and saving cue points to an external XML file which makes it easy to define cue points with the same attributes in several videos. This can be very useful if you are encoding the same video with several different quality levels and don't want to redefine the same cue points in each file.
The previous steps created a new cue points XML file and saved it to your computer. Depending on the cue points you specified before saving the file, an XML document similar to the following may have been created:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"> <FLVCoreCuePoints> <CuePoint> <Time>0</Time> <Type>event</Type> <Name>slide1</Name> <Parameters> <Parameter> <Name>id</Name> <Value>value</Value> </Parameter> </Parameters> </CuePoint> <CuePoint> <Time>5000</Time> <Type>event</Type> <Name>slide2</Name> <Parameters> <Parameter> <Name>param1</Name> <Value>value1</Value> </Parameter> <Parameter> <Name>param2</Name> <Value>value2</Value> </Parameter> </Parameters> </CuePoint> <CuePoint> <Time>20000</Time> <Type>event</Type> <Name>slide3</Name> </CuePoint> </FLVCoreCuePoints>
The previous XML document identifies three cue points. The first cue point occurs at 0 seconds and contains one custom parameter, the second cue point occurs at five seconds and contains two custom parameters, and the third cue point occurs at 20 seconds and does not contain any custom parameters.
Tip: Instead of editing cue points information in the Flash Video Encoder directly, you can export the cue points XML document to a file on your hard drive, edit it using a text or XML editor, and then import the cue point XML file back into the video encoder.
The cue point file loads and populates the cue point list with the cue points specified in the file.
Warning: When you load cue points from a file, any cue points you may have created in the cue points list are replaced by the cue points in the file.
Note: Only one cue point can be embedded at a specified time code within the video clip. If you attempt to import a cue point XML file with multiple cue points defined at the same timestamp, Adobe Media Encoder will display a dialog box informing you that the XML file is in an invalid format.
Adobe Media Encoder provides the following editing options that let you crop and trim video clips before encoding them:
The following sections give a brief overview of these topics. You can find more complete information in the Crop, trim, and resize video section of the Using Adobe Media Encoder CS4 online documentation. (There are some nuances to be aware of when cropping video in Adobe Media Encoder, specifically the options in the Output tab's Crop Settings menu.)
Note: If you resize a video clip's frame size, and do not select the Maintain Aspect Ratio option, the video may become distorted.
The video preview window lets you visually identify beginning and ending frames where you can trim the video clip. You can also use the elapsed time counter (located in the Trim section of the dialog box) to locate specific points in time where you can trim the video clip.
For more information about the FLV and F4V video formats, see the Flash Video Learning Guide.
For more information on automation tasks using the Adobe Media Encoder, see the Manage file encoding section of the Using Adobe Media Encoder CS4 online documentation.
For more information about working with video in Flash Professional, see the Digital video and Flash section of the Using Flash CS4 Professional online documentation.
For more information about the FLVPlayback component, see the following resources:
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