Today Adobe released Flash Player 10.1 and Air 2 for Windows, Mac and Linux. Upgrade right now for free!
When we first introduced this new player in October last year, we told a story of incredible improvements to video. Specifically – video delivery, video protection, video quality and video player development. My blog announcement in October summed up a lot of the new delivery options available for customers. I’ll use this blog post and others to come over the next few days to provide some details around all of this, but let’s paint the big picture how video on the web just changed today:
Since the October preview, we’ve shipped some major new technology that is enabled by Flash Player 10.1
Everything comes together today with this release. You should review the Video section of the Flash Player blog – I’ve expanded on some of the thoughts from this blog below.
HTTP Dynamic Streaming – this technology will enable publishers to leverage more infrastructure on the internet to help deliver video with higher scale, and lower costs. Adobe has adopted the industry standard MP4-Fragment format, to deliver video using HTTP. The Fragmented format enables the Flash Player to fetch sections (called fragments) of a video file, and cache them across the network. This is a very different approach than our RTMP delivery with Adobe Flash Media Server, which uses normal FLV or MP4 (F4V) file formats. The MP4-Fragment format (which we named, F4F) adheres to the industry standard which is important for re-usability. The format also enabled a major requirement for media streaming – protection. The F4F format has full support for DRM policies powered by Adobe Flash Access 2. This allows you to deliver your live or pre-recorded content, leverage the caching devices, and still maintain control over your video assets.
A new website was launched for the technology: http://www.adobe.com/go/httpdynamicstreaming/ which includes tremendous detail on the F4F packaging workflow, and downloads for free tools to create and deliver F4F files from your existing FLV or F4V content. The Open Source Media Framework is a major part of HTTP Dynamic Streaming. Inside OSMF are all the working bits required for measuring the QoS, and switching bitrates. OSMF also provides full support for Live streaming and DVR and makes it easy to manage DRM keys to make your playback start quickly, and adapt seamlessly.
RTMP Enhancements – A major update to the RTMP buffer management has allowed us to support some pretty cool functionality to improve the video experience, and reduce the interruptions caused by network troubles. The functionality is enabled with the Flash Media Server 3.5.3 (released back in December 2009). We’ve essentially decoupled the buffer from the connection – which allows video to play back even if the connection drops. Developers can use ActionScript to reconnect to FMS and resume playback – and if this is done before the buffer empties, then there will be no perceived disruption.
Seeking is another benefactor of this enhancement. When enabled, seeking will within the buffer first before going back to the server. This significantly reduces the load on the server compared with today when every seek action goes back and forth between client and server. You can now also specify a “back” buffer – this is one of my favorites. Similar to specifying a normal buffer, you can now specify a duration of buffer to keep – this will enable an instant reply option, or simple time-shifting within the player. This is not the same as DVR, but helps support some of the basic functions you see today in most DVR platforms. Finally the buffer enhancements also allow playback at different speeds (i.e. ½ speed, double or quad speed or more), and also support frame accurate stepping. All in – it’s a pretty major enhancement to video playback when using RTMP or RTMPe.
Peer Assisted Networking – This is a game changing technology for the Adobe Flash Platform, allowing direct communication to occur between a group of Flash Players. This technology is the 2nd generation of the RTMFP protocol introduced in Flash Player 10.0. The key difference in this release is “Groups” – which allows developers to define the capabilities of different groups of apps running in Flash Player 10.1. RTMFP Groups technology enables video delivery using P2P – this is called Application Level Multicast. You can also use Groups to send and receive directed or broadcast messages to other clients in the group. The technology is very powerful for media-based communication like video or voice chat. Using Flash Player’s built-in video and speech encoders, this new technology is perfect for 2-way video chats or 1-way broadcasts of user generated content. To start using RTMFP Groups, you can sign up for free for an Adobe Stratus 2 Developer Key.
You can see more about RTMFP groups here:
Matthew Kauffman’s Max 2009 presentation
My Beet.TV interview from May 2010
My NAB Presentation
You can see examples for RTMFP, and getting started guides here:
We’re very excited about this release, and we hope you are too. From a video point of view – this is the biggest enhancement to video over any other Flash Player release.
More to come….