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Taking Care of Business, In a Flash

How It Works
Developers can create custom players that include the scrub bar, audio controls, and other animations, as a Flash movie (an .swf file), leaving an object window open for the Flash Video (.flv). "You don’t want people to have to download a huge .swf file," Hock says. "So you keep that lightweight, say 20-30K, and then you can stream a 2-3MB video, for instance, through the Flash movie player."

Flash Video—.flv—is Macromedia’s proprietary codec, and the Flash encoder is included in the $699 Flash MX Professional 2004 package. Sorenson Spark also exports to the .flv codec, and Hock says other products are beginning to include .flv as an export option (the codec is licensable from Macromedia). Macromedia also offers a Flash Video Exporter plug-in that will add .flv export capability to Adobe After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro, Apple QuickTime Pro, Avid Xpress DV, and Discreet Cleaner. Additional NLE compatibility—including Premiere Pro—is on the horizon, Hock says. Macromedia offers detailed guides for using Flash Video Exporter with various NLEs on its Web site.

Live video encoding is done via the Flash player and a Webcam or DV camera. Whether the content is pre-recorded or live, Flash Communication Server MX 1.5 ($499) is necessary to deliver the video. For videographers and Web developers who don’t want to handle the delivery themselves, Macromedia has partnered with VitalStream and Speedera, both of which offer outsourced hosting options for Flash Video.

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