Saturday 16 February 2008

Flash Projects - #2 - Converting Video to SWF

The video player you created in the last tutorial allows the user to select and control the playback of video files in SWF format (not FLV format).

The reason for this, as I mentioned at the introduction of the last tutorial, was because I wanted to have a video player that worked with the features of Flash MX 2004 standard (which lacks the additional video capability of MX 2004 Professional).

One of the limitations with the standard version of Flash was that it could only encode video to be embedded in the timeline; this would then be exported in SWF format (not FLV).

Note: Freeware applications for converting video to FLV however have become more commonplace, so I have already begun work on a player that uses the netconnect and netstream capabilities of Flash to play FLV videos instead. Look out for this tutorial in a few weeks. Meanwhile...

So how do you encode video to SWF?

You can use Flash to encode video to SWF or some available freeware.

The Flash method

If you have Flash you can do it very easily by choosing File > Import > Import Video.

Flash MX 2004 standard will only encode video to be emdedded into the timeline, Professional and later versions give more options - make sure you select the option that embeds video into the timeline.

Work your way through the wizard and when the video has encoded, make sure the document size (and the video) are the right size for your player (see previous tutorial).

Then export the movie as a SWF and save it with the name you programmed into your player and in the same directory as the player.

All done. However I tend to find that Flash takes an excessively long time over encoding video, and sometimes prefer to use a freeware programe that seems a bit quicker.

The freeware method

One programme that has worked for me without trouble is Free Video to Flash Converter.

It is completely freeware and can convert video into SWF or FLV. You can even export video with its own player interface - and, while this defeats the object for my use of it, since I wanted a custom interface of my own design, some people may find this feature helpful.

The program is pretty self explanatory, all you need to do is remember to export the movie as a SWF and save it with the name you programmed into your player and in the same directory as the player.

And thats it. Again any problems just leave a comment and I will try to help.

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