8 Misconceptions About Flash Video

I recently came across a couple of serious misconceptions about Flash Video and I thought it was a good idea to set the record straight.

#1 - Flash Video is progressive download only. While progressive download is an option, streaming live or pre-recorded content is also possible using a Flash media streaming server or service provider. Obviously Adobe has it’s own offering in this space but third party and open source alternatives are also available.

#2 - Streaming Flash Video is expensive. With an open source alternative available, streaming Flash Video can cost as little as $0 (obviously not counting hardware or bandwidth costs).

#3 - Flash Video quality is terrible. Just look at YouTube. With Flash Video, you can publish video to any quality ranging from a stamp-size video in a banner to 1080p full HD video. The publisher has complete control over the quality of the video.

#4 - Flash Video streams can’t be protected. There are a couple of ways of protecting your Flash Video stream. Adobe’s Flash Media Server provides RTMP-based streaming directly into Flash Player, avoiding the browser cache. SSL encryption and additional authentication mechanisms can also be added to more directly target the client player (Whitepaper PDF). With the recently released Flash Media Rights Management Server, publishers can further protect their streams with DRM.

#5 - Flash is a closed format that works with proprietary video codecs. Both the SWF file format specification and the FLV/F4V specification are available to the public as part of the Open Screen Project. Flash Video can be published with 3 different codecs which are part of the Flash Player (so no additional installs are required). The Sorenson Spark codec and On2’s VP6 codec are the oldest codecs. The industry standard H.264 video codec was added in Flash Player 9 and allows you to publish video to the Flash Player up to 1080p full HD video.

#6 - I can only use Flash Video in a browser. Adobe AIR (available for Mac, Windows and Linux) allows you to build real desktop applications with web technologies including JavaScript, HTML and Flash. Since the Flash Player is at the heart of the AIR runtime, it is obvious that you can also use all of the Flash Player features including Flash Video. Adobe AIR 1.5 also supports the DRM capabilities provided by the Flash Media Rights Management Server.

#7 - Flash Video is difficult to use. For developers: Adding Flash Video to a Flash project (made with Flash Professional or Flex and targeted for Flash Player or Adobe AIR) is as easy as adding any other asset to your project. If you can add an image to your project, you can also add Flash Video. For end-users: The majority of internet users won’t need to install anything extra. 98.3% of all internet connected PCs have Flash Player 8 or higher installed, meaning they can instantly view Flash Video encoded with either the Sorenson Spark or On2 VP6 codec. 89.4% have Flash Player 9.0.115 installed. That version of the Flash Player has H.264 video and HE-AAC audio playback, multi-core support and hardware scaling of HD quality full-screen video. This means that most users can play your HD H.264 video from the instant the page is loaded.

#8 - Only YouTube uses Flash Video. According to comScore, 80% (up from 72%) of online videos are viewed Worldwide using Adobe Flash technology. This makes Flash Video the #1 video format on the web. Renowned broadcasters like CNN, BBC, NBC, FOX and many others use Flash Video as their main video format.