Flash Video Encoding, Skinning and Components in WordPress

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Encoding with the Adobe Media Encoder

If you have a video file, such as an MOV or MP4 file that you want to display as a SWF on the Web, simply encode (or compress) the video file into an FLV. With Flash CS4, you use the Adobe Media Encoder to do this. It can be accessed directly or through Flash’s import video function. If you are using an earlier version of Flash, encoding is still possible, and the process is similar.

Getting ready

Make sure that you have a video file that is compatible with the Adobe Media Encoder. If you do not have a file to use, by all means, use the short.mov file. This file is a clip of the full length summer.mp4 file from www.archive.org that is listed on that website as being in the Public Domain. Use the MOV file because it is a short file, so the time it takes the encoder to render the video will be shorter. This is good for the purposes of learning and practicing. Also, do not worry if you cannot hear any of the sounds. There is nothing wrong with the speakers on your computer. This file does not have audio.

How to do it…

  1. Open the Adobe Media Encoder:
  2. Click on the Add button.

    Flash Video Encoding, Skinning and Components in WordPress

  3. Navigate to the file you want to encode, such as short.move, and click on Choose/OK. It is now listed in the queue:
    Flash Video Encoding, Skinning and Components in WordPress
  4. Click on the down arrow under Format to select into which file format you will encode the video. Choose FLV | F4V if not already selected.
  5. Click on the down arrow under Preset to choose one of the preset export setting options. The default of FLV – Same As Source (Flash 8 and Higher) is generally fine. If you have fewer standard video needs, make a different choice based on your needs. Also, there is an option to Edit Export Settings as well as a Settings button if you want to make your own decisions. See the Edit Export Settings section for more on that.
  6. Click on the file name under Output File to select the destination of your encoded file. You can also change the file name.
  7. Click on Start Queue, and the encoding process will begin. If you are encoding a long video, you might want to go take a walk or get a cup of tea. For short.mov, just sit tight. It should only take a minute or two to encode.
  8. Once encoding is complete, the FLV is saved in the location you chose under the Output File section. There is also a check mark under the encoder’s Status section. Now, you can do what you want with the file. For instance, you can take it into Flash and import it into an SWF.

How it works…

The Adobe Media Encoder encodes the selected video file into the FLV format. It is similar to taking a Photoshop file or a TIFF and compressing either of them into a JPG. The process is simply more involved because the data is more complex.

There’s more…

The Adobe Media Encoder has many options and capabilities. Among these is a wealth of export settings that can be edited to suit your needs. Also available to you is the ability to not only encode multiple files in one sitting but also to duplicate and remove files in your queue.

Edit Export Settings

With your file selected in the encoder, click on the Settings button. This gives you the Export Settings dialog box:

Flash Video Encoding, Skinning and Components in WordPress

As you can see, it has a lot of options. Only some of the myriad of options will be discussed below.

At the top left of the dialog box are two buttons: Source and Output. Source shows the video file you have selected. Output shows a preview of the encoded version of the file.

On the bottom/middle left of the Export Settings dialog box, you can address the timeline. You are able to clip the movie if you want to export only part of it; and you can set up cue points.

To clip the movie, do the following:

  1. Drag the playback head back and forth to manually preview the movie. This helps you find the section you want to keep.
  2. Drag the in and out point triangles back and forth to isolate the section you want to keep. The triangle on the left is the in point, and the one on the right is the out point. Everything between the two triangles will be encoded.

    The timer keeps track of time in milliseconds.

  3. The right side of the dialog box allows you to change the desired file format; save your own preset with the button that looks like a computer disk circa 1996. You can also change the file name of the encoded video and choose if you are exporting only video, only audio, or both.

The Summary section gives you just that, a summary of your choices thus far.

The bottom right section gives you options for putting on a blur filter under the Filter tab and changing the format as applicable under the Format tab.

The Video tab lets you choose which Codec to use to encode the video. On2 VP6 is usually the best choice. Stick with that one. It is more advanced, gives better quality, and allows you to encode an Alpha Channel if you have one to encode.

Alpha Channels, areas of transparency in video (i.e., green screen), cannot be set up in Flash. They must be set up in a video editing program such as Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. The encoder can only honor them, not generate them.

If you need to resize your video, check the box for Resize Video, and change the values as needed. If you want to constrain the proportions of your video, leave the chain whole.

Frame rate can also be changed here. Generally, it is in your best interest to leave the video set to the same frame rate it was shot in. Same as source is a good choice. For Bitrate Settings, the defaults are usually pretty good. If you want higher quality and can take the additional file size, you can change Encoding Passes to Two.

For Advanced Settings, you can change overall quality by selecting either Quality for Speed, Good, or Best. It all depends on your needs.

For Audio, if you have it incorporated into your video file, choose Stereo. It sounds better. The only reason to go with Mono is if you have little sound, if it is a video of a talking head, or if your file size needs to be as small as possible.

For Bitrate Settings for audio, 128 kb per second is good. Again, only turn this lower if the audio is overly simple, not important, or your file size dictates it. Faster bitrate/higher number gives you better quality sound.

When you are finished making changes, click on OK. This gets you back to the encoder. Proceed from here as needed.

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