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First Look: Adobe Flash Media Encoder

The collapsable bottom part of the applications contains the encoding options for video and audio as well as Output parameters whose dropdown menu also doubles up as an entry form for video metadata. The fact that video and audio can be enabled or disabled individually is nice, as it allows audio-only broadcast if required. Likewise, the audio portion can be omitted from a video broadcast.

The video setting allow access to a variety of parameters:
* selected video device (camera)
* video size and frame rate
* crop and resize
* video bit rate
* deinterlace option

There is no choice of video codecs as FME automatically uses the On2 VP6 codec. With only two codecs available for Flash Video, there is no use for Sorenson Spark in this application. A little wrench icon next to the Bit rate setting gives access to some more advanced settings which include keyframe frequency, quality and noise reduction. Most users should find the one of the predefined settings in the Preset dropdown menu sufficient for their needs and the 300kbps Medium Bandwidth profile has worked very well for me. If you do require a more custom setup, note that profiles can be saved and loaded via the File menu.

Audio controls are also very easy to use and understand, giving access to the chosen Audio Device, Sample Rate, Bit rate, and Volume. Note the lack of audio codecs: Nellymoser is the default codec used here. I see this as a real disadvantage, as the Nellymoser codec (being an optimized voice codec) is arguably not ideally suited for certain content, such as music. It is also nearly impossible to transcode into a different audio format later on. The addition of MP3 and others audio formats would have been welcome.

FME detects a variety of cameras and audio sources without problems. Like the Flash Player, it picked up my Creative webcam, VHScrCap screen capture driver, Logitech webcam, and even my TV card right away. The normal setup requires you to specify an RTMP address (which is basically a publishing point on Flash Media Server) and stream name. If you have worked with Flash Media Server before, then you will be familiar with this setup. If this is your first time then I recommend this article, which outlines how RTMP addresses are constructed and what their various parts break down into.

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