Posts in Category "Adobe Flash"

Video Player vs Webpage

Keeping with the tradition of this blog (to keep the info as digestible for as wide a range of skill levels as possible), I want to explain some basic Internet TV concepts, so if you’re new to this the posts you’ll be reading in the future make more sense.

When you’re watching video in a web browser, there are 2 main components of that experience. The “Video Player” and the “Webpage”. They are generally developed as separate components that get integrated once they are developed. Let’s look at YouTube as an example:

player_vs_webpage.jpg

I dimmed out everything that isn’t the player.

The player is the component that actually plays back the video, and contains the controls that let you navigate and manipulate the video (i.e. move forward and backwards in time, enter Fullscreen mode, Closed Captioning on, etc) . In the case of most of the websites you watch video on, it is a player built on the Adobe Flash Platform, and is playing video encoded to one of the Flash video specifications.

Everything else is contained within the Webpage. The Webpage is generally build using a mix of different technologies including HTML and Javascripit.

Ultimately, the video player is “embedded” within the webpage, which is what integrates the 2 together. This is also what happens when you take the “embed” code from a video player and put it on your own webpage (as I have done with one of the films I’ve produced for Adobe TV, directly below this paragraph) or when you “Share” a video on a social networking site like Facebook.

Other things integrated within the Player, behind the scenes, are snippets of code which report usage back to a metrics & reporting system (in the case of Adobe TV, every time you watch a video, including if you just played that video above this sentence, it sends information that the video was watched, and also reports how much of it you watched, to our reporting system Omniture Site Catalyst). If there is ad-insertion, there is also code that calls out to the ad server to show you advertisements at specified times (generally “pre-roll”, i.e. before the video you actually came to watch plays). These are just a few examples.

DVD 2 SWF

What I’m about to show you is one of the things in CS3 that makes people go “hmmmmm…” the first time they see it, because it’s one of the more compelling things that has come so far from the marriage of Adobe and Macromedia (and I emphasize the word yet in that sentence, just wait ‘til NAB . . .). You probably wouldn’t think of this type of thing coming from a DVD authoring tool – after all there are so many of those on the market that the one you’re using probably has more to do with your overall workflow than anything else.

While Encore stands tall amongst DVD authoring tools, it’s now got something that redefines what’s possible. You can author a DVD in Encore, and then with a click of a button output it to Flash.

dvd2swf1.jpg

In a single authoring, you can now output to DVD, Blu-Ray, and Flash. The experience you get in Flash is identical to the experience you get on a DVD player (with the obvious exception that the video quality will be optimized for the web and thus not high-quality MPEG-2 as on a real DVD). All the video, chapter points, menus, interactivity, etc. is neatly packaged for you and published for the web. No Flash authoring knowledge or experience required.

dvd2swf2.jpg

So – in a nutshell – you can now author interactive Flash content without having to have an iota of knowledge on how to author interactive Flash content. You can also push the DVD to the web, creating new audiences and even creating preview versions of your actual DVD for people to view online.

How about making a proof of a DVD for a client, so they can see menus, interactivity, etc without you having to bun a disc and overnight it to them?

How about taking the DVD thing out of the equation entirely and just using this to create interactive content? Encore interfaces better with Photoshop and After Effects than any DVD tool on the market, so its easy to design things in Photoshop, animate them in After Effects, add the interactivity in Encore, then publish to Flash.

There are loads of us wanting (and needing, due to client demand) to create interactive Flash content. There are few of us with the time to really learn Flash authoring. This is an early step in the concept of “Flash authoring for the rest of us” and I think it’s a great beginning.

Will The Convergation Please Rise

So all of a sudden, I’m inventing words. Long weeks can do this sort of thing to you, but in any case the whole “Media Convergence” thing has been on my mind lately. I attended my 8th NAB this year, and I can think back to the first one I went to in ’99 when everyone was saying TV was going to the internet. Major players in the industry bet the farm on that theory and most got visits from the repo guys soon thereafter.

Well, now we’re finally here. You can stream or download TV shows, video podcasts, baseball games (I’m addicted to my MLB.TV subscription), and all sorts of things that aren’t fit to mention in polite conversation. What’s more interesting is how all this video content is being pushed onto mobile devices as well. We’re not seeing it so much here in the USA today, but when I went to Seoul, Korea earlier this year, I was amazed to see people on the subway staring into their cellphones immersed in the TV News, a soccer match, and a game show in which a guy wearing a suit covered with fish was being lowered into a tank of live giant crabs.

So this leads me to the whole content authoring thing — we already know that Creative Professionals are gradually becoming a more generalist species. Print designers are learning web design, video editors are learning motion graphic design, and eventually we’ll all be learning to design stuff for mobile phones & the like. If you’re using Flash Professional 8, you might not know it, but the tools for authoring content are already in there, and the Flash Lite platform comes pre-installed on mobile phones & devices made by companies like Nokia & Sony-Ericsson

The best way to have a look at this feature, is to open a sample project that comes with Flash Professional 8 and test it in the Emulator.

flash_lite_emulator.jpg
The “Cafe Townsend” project in the Flash Lite emulator, showing a Nokia 6620.

First, you need to open the file named cafe_tutorial_complete.fla located in the /Samples and Tutorials/Tutorial Assets/Flash Lite/Cafe/ folder where you installed Flash Professional 8 (for example, C:/Program Files/Macromedia/Flash 8/Samples and Tutorials/Tutorial Assets/Flash Lite/Cafe/).

Next, select Control>Test Movie to load the project in the Emulator. Click on the buttons of the phone to navigate & select (it’s pretty intuitive), and you can use the pulldown menu in the upper-left corner of the Emulator to select different mobile phones & devices to test the application on.

When you’re ready to get started trying your hand at building a Flash Lite app for a mobile phone, select Help>Flash Help, and then scroll down to Getting Started with Flash Lite.

I’ll be using my “Crackberry” mobile device quite a bit next week when I’m in Vegas presenting at the HOW Design Conference. If you’re there, make sure to say “hi”.