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Broadcasting MPEG-4 (h.264) video through Flash 10

In this How To, you will be taken, step by step, through the process of adding MPEG-4 video to your Flash 10 apps By Matthew David

In this How To article you will be taken, step by step, through the process of adding MPEG-4 video to your Flash 10 applications.

The new standard for video and audio is fast becoming MPEG-4, technically known as H.264. To acknowledge support for this new standard, Adobe's Flash Player is now supporting MPEG encoded video. MPEG-4 support was introduced with Flash Player 9, third release. It is recommended, however, that you restrict MPEG-4 support to just Flash Player 10 and later.

Flash natively supports several Flash video formats in FLV format. If you have done any video work with Flash then you will already be familiar with this format. The most effective way of delivering video through Flash is to convert your video into a format, such as FLV, that Flash understands; create a Flash SWF movie that connects to an FLV file and then stream the two together off a Web site.

For MPEG-4 support you have two choices:
1. Convert your video into the new F4V video format
2. Use a default MP4 video format

There are advantages to both. The F4V is optimized to run through Flash and take advantage of Adobe streaming media servers. The MP4 is a default industry standard that enables you to create video that will run in Flash, Apple's QuickTime or Microsoft's Silverlight.

Creating video in MPEG-4 format for Flash
Creating MPEG-4 video used to be a hassle. The tools were clumsy and expensive. Now that is all changed. When you purchase Flash CS4 it comes with the Adobe Media Encoder that allows you to convert almost any video on your PC to F4V format. You will also see from the screen shot that the new Encoder formats audio in MPEG-4 specific AAC audio format. Not sure what AAC format is? All music purchased from iTunes is in AAC format.

The Media Encoder also enables you to target the older FLV format.
While the F4V format is useful for Adobe specific server products it is worthwhile knowing that the default MPEG-4 format, MP4, is also supported by Flash Player 10. There are many products that will create or convert video into MP4 video. Some of the better products are:

  • TechSmith's Camtasia now natively creates MPEG-4 video files and plays the video back through Flash
  • Replay Convertor from Applian Technologies will take almost any video format and convert it into other formats including MPEG-4
  • Alivemedia.net has a universal video convertor that allows you to create video formats for all your devices as well as for Flash 10

You can run additional searches online for more products. The list is growing each day largely due to Apple's iPod and iPhone natively supporting MPEG-4 . The bottom line is that if you do not have files in MPEG-4 format, it is very easy to get them converted.

Adding MPEG-4 video to your Flash Movies
The final step you need to take is to deliver your video through Flash. There is good news here. There are only two steps you need to take when creating your Flash Movie:
1. Ensure that the target SWF file is for Flash 10
2. Instead of targeting a Flash FLV file in your ActionScript of Flash Media Component you need to target an F4V or MP4 file.
These are the only steps you need to take. Adobe is making it very easy for video producers to convert their video for delivery over the Web. The simple addition of a new video file format is a great example of how you can now be taking advantage of MPEG-4 video in new and exciting ways.

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Matthew has written four Flash books, contributed to a dozen Web books, and has published over 400 articles. He is passionate about exposing Internet's potential for all of us. Matthew works directly with many companies as a business strategist coaching IT architects and business leaders to work tightly with each other towards common goals.
Related Keywords:Broadcasting MPEG-4 (h.264) video through Flash 10, Flash video broadcast, Flash video workflow, Internet video

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