|Flash 9 Update 3 "moviestar" with H.264 support|
I've mentioned this in a couple of threads, but I think it deserves it's own.
The latest released Flash 9 now has an H.264 codec.
It's going to be a bit confusing for users, as this is an incremental Flash Player release (Why didn't they call this Flash 10? It deserves a major release number...)
I hope the mods will let me get-away with linking to a blog (of an Adobe employee who works on Flash), as it contains a lot of great information to help clear-up the confusion:
The blog post has been around since the beta release in August, but I just came across it.
One of the exciting things about the latest Flash Player is that they have finally broken-out of the .flv container format:
|You can load and play .mp4,.m4v,.m4a,.mov and .3gp files using the same NetStream API you use to load FLV files now. |
In fact, they are rather embracing the notion:
|Will it be possible to place H.264 streams into the traditional FLV file structure? It will, but we strongly encourage everyone to embrace the new standard file format. |
It's important to note that the player supports ONLY H.264 video when playing these files. It's not going to play just any .mp4.
|Video needs to be in H.264 format only. MPEG-4 Part 2 (Xvid, DivX etc.) video is not supported, H.263 video is not supported, Sorenson Video is not supported. Keep in mind that a lot of pod casts are still using MPEG-4 Part 2. So do not be surprised if you do not see any video. We should be close to 100% compliant to the H.264 standard, all Base, Main, High and High 10 bit streams should play. |
(Note: looks like Flash movie player applets may need some updating if they check the file extension, but I'd expect this to happen quickly if it hasn't already.)
One thing webmasters will need to be aware of:
|If you use progressive download instead of FMS make sure that the moov atom (which is the index information in MPEG-4 files) is at the beginning of the file. Otherwise you have to wait until the file is completely downloaded before it is played back. You can use tools like qt-faststart.c written by our own Mike Melanson to fix your files so that the index is at the beginning of the file. Unfortunately our tools (Premiere and AfterEffects etc.) currently place the index at the end of the file so this tool might become essential for you, at least for now. |
Yea, a bit of technical arcana, but I thought it was important to mention - you may need to do a bit of fixing-up of H.264-encoded files produced with current tools.
More good information on that blog's home page, including standardization for file extensions and Mime types.
There are some warts at this point, but there seems to be a clear direction to the industry. Hardware decoding support will shortly be universal in video cards, and now the most popular and accessible browser plugin that supports video playback supports H.264.
If you use video on your site, time to start thinking about standardizing on H.264.
Installed the player, tried some of the sample videos.
They sure look purty.
Keep in mind, for the average website and user, you're still going to have tiny videos for a while yet. But they are going to start looking a lot better than the YouTube garbage.
I was able to stream the 720P videos with about a 40% utilization on an old dual Xeon 3gHz machine and an Nvidia 6800 card. (Clearly not decoding on the card. It does decode MPEG2, and has no problem with 1040i at low CPU utilization from my Hauppauge digital TV card.)
At 1024p got some dropouts, and 75% CPU utilization. Apparently bandwidth-limited on my Cox 15Mbit/sec connection.
The gallery itself is a bit annoying while also demonstrating the possibilities for incorporating video into a page in some non-traditional non player-in-a-box ways. They pop-up the video you select, but the web page continues to play the gallery fluff, which eats up 20-30% CPU itself.
Peeked at the Task Manager and see that they are making great use of multiple cores. Kept all 4 hyperthreads equally busy. Should really shine on a newer multi-core chip, even without video card support.
Adobe's HD Video gallery is here:
|for the average website and user, you're still going to have tiny videos for a while yet |
I seem to recall that the choice of sizes (in pixels) that will work is very restricted.
Playback on older machines (which may concern some webmasters) will also be an issue for a while yet.
The other thing I remember as a downside is covered in the article:
|I am not in a position able to explain to you why we will not allow 3rd party streaming servers to stream H.264 video or AAC audio into the Flash Player. |
Make of that what you will.
Otherwise, definitely a good thing, and high-quality full-screen web video is almost upon us.
|Playback on older machines (which may concern some webmasters) will also be an issue for a while yet. |
Until this demo, I didn't think I had an "older" machine. Let's say I have a machine that's extremely fast as long as I choose to run XP. Maybe some of the Vista issues will clear up as multiple applications prompt folks to buy new hardware. This might be one of the big drivers.