Flash Professional 8 Video Encoder
The easiest way to convert existing video files to the FLV file format is to use the handy Flash 8 Import Wizard. However, as convenient as the wizard is, it has limitations in that you can encode only one video clip at a time. This can make the process of encoding multiple video clips time-intensive. If you work extensively with video-based content, Macromedia includes the Flash 8 Video Encoder, a separate application that comes bundled with the Flash Professional 8 version of the program. Install the Flash 8 Video Encoder on a dedicated computer to batch process video clips. This can speed up your workflow by freeing up your production computer and allowing you to encode multiple clips at a time, each with different encoding settings (see Figure 2). Additional advantages of this encoder is the ability to use a single encode setting on multiple clips at the same time and the ability to batch process an entire group of video clips with a single click.
Figure 2 Basic encoding settings in the Flash Video Encoder
You can also convert video files to the FLV format using third-party converters. These encoders can do a better job but the Flash 8 Video Encoder is the one most people use because it entails no extra cost. (I will introduce two of these converters, Sorenson Squeeze and Flix Pro, later in this article.)
The Flash encoder is very easy to use and produces good quality video for most jobs. Its encoding settings are basic but adequate without being spectacular. You can control basic settings such as maximum data rate, keyframes, cropping, and cue points (which allow you to synchronize video clips with other Flash elements), but there are certainly no bells or whistles.
The Flash encoder’s most serious limitation is its lack of two-pass encoding, which allows the application to analyze the video file before encoding it (resulting in higher-quality encoded video). One-pass encoding is adequate for video that is fairly consistent, but sudden changes, such as cuts, can take the application by surprise, resulting in lower-quality video.
My students and I have tried a variety of input files created with different codecs, and the Flash 8 video converter handled most of them quite well, even files from student projects from the 1990s using old versions of QuickTime.
- To use the Flash 8 Video Encoder, first find the application on your
computer. It’s typically installed in a Flash 8 Video Encoder folder
within the Macromedia folder in your Program Files (Windows) or Applications
Figure 3 Default location of the Flash 8 Video Encoder in Windows
- Double-click the Flash 8 Video Encoder icon to launch the application.
Figure 4 Flash Video Encoder application
- Use the Encoder by dragging or importing multiple files into the Video Encoder list. To start, the encoding status reads Waiting, which indicates that the encoder is waiting for you to set the encoding settings for each video clip. You can adjust settings for each clip individually or for multiple clips at the same time.
- Select one or more clips in the list and click the Settings button.
- The Flash Video Encoding Settings screen appears (see
Figure 5). Click the
Advanced Settings button.
Figure 5 Advanced encoding settings of the Flash Video Encoder
- The Advanced Settings section of the Video Encoding screen appears.
From here you can use the Encoding tab to set encoding options such as the video codec, frame rate, key frame placement, and audio encoding options. Use the Cue Points tab to set cue points and the Crop and Trim tab to edit the clip.
Figure 6 Two cue points populating the cue list
- After you finish making your selections, click OK to return to the Video Encoder list.
- To start processing the video, press Start Queue. The Video Encoder begins
batch processing the clips, starting with the first clip in the list. The
progress of the encoding will be displayed at the bottom of the screen, together
with a preview of the video as it is being encoded (see
Figure 7 Progress and final status of the encoding is displayed in the Flash 8 Video Encoder screen.
You can stop the batch process at any time by pressing Stop Queue. When the batch process is finished, a green check will be displayed for each clip that was successfully encoded. A red exclamation point will be displayed if any errors were encountered during encoding, and an Errors dialog box will appear, providing more details.
- The encoded video clips will be saved as Flash .flv files to the same
location as the preimported clips. The files are ready to be imported into your
Flash projects; no further processing or encoding is needed or will be performed
by Flash when they are imported.
Figure 8 The encoded video clips are saved to the same location as the original files.