The ability to include video inside a Flash SWF file was introduced with the release of Flash MX. This video capability has opened up many new and exciting opportunities for Flash developers, and Macromedia has further upgraded Flash’s video capabilities in the latest professional version of Flash. Flash 8 has more video importing and compression options, can now trim and edit video clips, apply color correction, and—most significantly—now ships with a new stand-alone video encoding tool. This encoder is a separate application that can significantly improve your Flash video production workflow by providing an easy way to convert video files into the Flash Video (FLV) format. It also can perform batch processing of video files.
With these new capabilities, Flash has developed into an excellent platform for delivering video and many other types of media. Flash has some compelling advantages for delivering video on the Internet:
- The Flash player is very common: about 95 percent of browsers have it installed. It has better browser penetration and provides more creative opportunities than any other video format.
- Flash files can include graphics, animation, video, audio, and interactive material. As of version 7, true streaming video is supported by Flash and anyone with the latest player can see Flash video clips.
- The playback of both video and audio in Flash is very consistent and reliable.
- Flash works equally well on PCs, Macs, and Linux computers.
- Flash provides excellent control over the way video will be displayed. You can use standard playback controls or create your own media player with custom controls complete with supporting interactive content.
FLV is the preferred file format for delivering video clips via Flash. It is a specialized file format that has been supported from version 7. FLV files cannot be played back directly but must be embedded in (or linked from) an SWF file. You create (or download) a "container" SWF file from which to play the FLV file. The most common approach is to use an SWF file that functions as a media player with screen and playback controls.
This FLV file format lets you import or export a static video stream with encoded audio and is ideal for use with communications applications, such as video conferencing or for files that contain screen share encoded data exported from the Flash Communication Server.