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Moving to Flash content on your website?


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#1 chris fawcett

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Posted 18 November 2009 - 11:08 AM

Maybe you all knew this already, but since Flash adopted H.264, if you want to change .mov or .mp4 H.264 files to .flv, you don't have to re-encode—just change the extension to .flv

It has worked on everything I've tried it on so far.

This also means you can still use a tool like ffmpegx to compress your files to H.264, rather than (to my mind the inferior) Flash Video Encoder.

Chris
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#2 Dana Love

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Posted 18 November 2009 - 12:21 PM

It was a handy update of Adobe's. We use the Matrox Max stuff to manage H.264 encodes. They've been blisteringly fast for our dailies and post work, and made a huge difference in the work we had in the last election cycle.
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#3 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 18 November 2009 - 01:30 PM

Adobe and Quicktime do not get along very well. While h.264 is a codec, the two programs that encode it use completely different containers, or wrappers. By changing the file extension, you're changing your computer's default program that automatically plays, or decodes, the file. To wrap the files, Adobe uses Mainconcept, and Quicktime uses... Well, Quicktime. A wrapper muxes, or turns the two files, audio and video, into one, as well as performing various other functions, to include the encoding process. Each container program does it slightly differently. Sometimes they're readable in other programs, sometimes not. I have never seen Adobe and Quicktime be so goddamn problematic with each other until they both adopted h.264.

A great example of these programs not getting along together is the new line of the Canon HDSLR cameras... The 5D and what have you encodes the video in h.264, but it's really only natively playable in Quicktime based editing software, such as Final Cut. I've got a beast of a PC that runs Adobe Premiere CS4, and I have yet to import Canon HDSLR video that will play back flawlessly without a need to render preview files more to Adobe's liking. They've tried, oh how Adobe has tried to fix the problem... Still sucks. On my Final Cut system, they play back just fine as soon as they're imported into the bin. Conspiracy theory? You tell me... Anyhoo, changing the file extension is kind of a game of Russian Roulette. There are a multitude of container programs out there especially on the PC side, so you may end up getting a mix that's playable in any number of programs, PC or Mac based, so it may appear to work flawlessly... However, that's no guarantee, and in order to be sure, using the right encoding software is your only sure bet. By simply changing the file extension, you're limiting what your video can be played on and how it can be played back out there over the interwebs. It won't be optimized for streaming and other fun stuff. You mentioned Adobe Flash... There are a several file extensions and types of Flash video codecs and encoders. Without getting into a whole discussion over that, Adobe's default file extension for h.264 is the .f4v file extension. You can use Adobe products to encode a Quicktime file, but the options are very limited, and Adobe will even throw in a warning about how your system might crash if you try to encode a Quicktime file using .h264... Adobe will throw up a little message saying for best results, use the standard .h264 encoder, or Mainconcept, that comes with your Adobe software... Using two separate programs to deal with video for different systems sucks, but until they start to get along better, that'll have to do for now... Personally, I have to be able to make separate but equal Mac and PC files.
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#4 Mike Germond SOC

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Posted 18 November 2009 - 08:59 PM

I've got FLV presets in Sorenson Squeeze for the different parts of my site that flash content gets used. It's a quick encode for the clip lengths I'm used to, but uploading a whole episode of a TV show takes a bit longer.

It's not a free program however..
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#5 chris fawcett

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Posted 19 November 2009 - 04:40 AM

Hi Sydney,

Thanks for the comprehensive reply. Excuse my ignorance, but the clips I renamed play on Firefox and IE, both Mac and PC, and on Safari. Isn't that enough?

Chris
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#6 Sydney Seeber

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Posted 19 November 2009 - 03:23 PM

It depends on the specific machine and the plugins the particular system uses to play back the video, and of course the platform, or OS. That's why it's a bit of a crap shoot. When the video is encoded, it's optimized for certain web environments and browser video player plugins, which are negated when you change the file extension. One large disadvantage of changing the extension is you eliminate or severely cripple the ability of both Flash and Quicktime to scale the playback to both the device receiving it, and the playback capabilities detected. Audio will be your biggest issue on slower systems... It can appear significantly out of sync with the video for some users. Worst case scenario is that there are computers out there that will simply not play back the video in real time, it will simply stutter terribly
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#7 chris fawcett

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Posted 19 November 2009 - 04:35 PM

Interesting,

Thanks for taking the time to explain that.

All the best,

Chris
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