Recently, I was asked to present to a group of people via Adobe Connect, but I was not available to present live. I thought I would do a screen recording and then post it to my Connect room. While I could have done it all in one shot by using Adobe Captivate Full Motion Recording (FMR) mode and then letting Captivate upload the recording directly to my Connect room, I wanted to learn how to use a pre-recorded video in Connect.
I used ScreenFlow to record my presentation. I did this because it let me capture my screen and my built-in web cam at the same time, and then edit the recording very quickly without encoding. Encoding happens after I edit the recording, which can be a time saver when I want the job done really fast. If I want more robust editing, I of course send the unedited encoded recording over to Premiere and edit it there. For most of what I do, though, ScreenFlow does a great job when I don’t want to use Captivate. Regardless, from here on out, I assume that there is some video that I want to use in Connect.
Connect can only display two video file formats: FLV and F4V. These are the two Flash video formats, and they use the On2 VP6 and H.264 encodings, respectively. Since our objective here is to get the video to play on Adobe Connect Mobile (browse for it in iTunes, Android Marketplace and BlackBerry AppWorld), let’s focus on FLV, since I know it works.
When encoding for mobile, you need to think of how your client will connect to the Connect server. It might be through a 3G connection, which isn’t lightning fast, and often will be less than 1.4 megabits per second, depending on where you are. Here in NY City, for instance, the connections are often as slow as 500 mbits per second. You must therefore encode your video with the slowest connection in mind. We’ll get to this when we look at bandwidth.
Remember that I already have a recording that I saved from my screen capture software. In my case, I exported it from ScreenFlow using their lossless setting. I did not use their Export to Flash option, as it makes an F4V file using the H.264 encoding method.
Export Settings from ScreenFlow
However you capture your video, you want the highest quality file you can get, since we’re going to compress hit pretty hard in the Media Encoder.
Now that we have our file, let’s send it to the Adobe Media Encoder (AME). Adobe Media Encoder comes with Acrobat Pro and with the Creative Suites. It also ships with other point products such as Flash and Flash Builder. You will need Media Encoder in order to encode the video for Connect. I am using Media Encoder CS5.5, which is different from Media Encoder CS5. If you would like a deeper dive into how to use AME, visit this page on the Adobe Developer Connection.
To use AME, launch it and then drag your video into the queue at the top of the screen. Once there, you can adjust the encoding settings by clicking the hyperlink under Format and choose FLV.
You will see many options here including H.264 and F4V. This may seem confusing, since codec is not the same as file format. An F4V and MOV file may both be encoded using H.264 codec, for instance. Remember, we need On2 VP6 for our video, so choose FLV and that will automatically choose the On2 VP6 codec.
Adobe Media Encoder settings for Adobe Connect
Here are some tips to help make the video successful.
- Choose CBR, which means Constant Bit Rate.
- Set the bit rate to anticipate your slowest connections. I set mine at 800 kbps, but you can adjust for your bandwidth expectations. To be safe, assume slower connections and you won’t have stuttering due to latency issues.
- Two pass encoding will take longer but the result will be better.
- Reduce the frame rate to an even factor of your initial frame rate. My original video had a frame rate of 30 fps. I reduced it to 10. If you have 24 fps, you might want to reduce it to 12 or 8.
- Reduce the frame size to match your clients. In a perfect world, I would have reduced my screen resolution to something like 1280 x 800 for the recording, but I can’t count on that all the time. Connect will scale the video to fit your client’s frame, but it’s best to be close to the size of the player window.
I have attached a copy of my Media Encoder Preset file. To load it, download the file from my Acrobat.com workspace by clicking the link. Then, when you have opened the encoding settings dialog, click the little folder icon next to the settings drop down menu and browse to Connect.epr, which is the file you downloaded from Acrobat.com.
Import AME Settings for Connect
Once you have loaded the setting, you can adjust the settings if needed. Once you’ve finished your tweaking, you can save the preset for use later by clicking the little floppy disk icon to the right of the Preset drop down menu. If you want to share your preset with others, then Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (Windows) the floppy disk icon and you will be able to save the preset to wherever you choose.
Once you have applied your settings, then you can close the dialog and click the “Play” button in the upper right hand corner of the AME window. This will force the encoder to begin encoding your video for Connect. Depending on length, your encoding time will vary. Mine was 20 minutes of HD video and it took about a half hour to encode on my laptop with the settings in this post.
Once encoded, you can share it from any share pod in the connect room by either uploading it into your Content area of your Connect account or by browsing for the video from a Share pod in the Connect room. Click the triangle next to Share My Screen in any Share pod and choose Share Document from the dropdown menu. If you have put it into the Content area of your Connect account, it will be available in My Content. If you want to share it from your computer, then choose Browse My Computer… and browse for the video. After it uploads, you will be able to play it when you need it in your presentation. More importantly, both your desktop and your mobile viewers will be able to enjoy your video.
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