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Transport, Motion Graphics and Janet Jackson

My good friends over at Transport just completed some awesome in-concert video work for Janet Jackson's upcoming tour:

I've worked with the team at Transport on several Flash/interactive projects over the years while they were employed at other agencies, so I was excited for them when I found out they decided to step out on their own and pursue their passion for motion graphics. Business is starting to take off for the young firm, with clients such as Nike, Nikon and VoodooPC. The Janet project also just got a write-up on Computerlove.

Check out some video clips and more details about the project on the Transport blog.

SWFAddress and YouTube: Deep Linking Into Video

Rostislav has done it again! The creator of SWFAddress just released a simple way of deep linking into video content via YouTube's new JavaScript API and SWFAddress.

Why is this so awesome? Well, with this added functionality you can now create 'chapters' in your content, without having to split up the video file. And with YouTube basically becoming a free streaming media provider with the release of their chromeless video player, the possibilities are endless.

Check out an example of the deep link, which starts the video 21 seconds in.

Rostislav goes into more detail on his blog post about the SWFAddress and YouTube API project, and you can download the sample now from the SWFAddress SVN.

Flash Player to Support H.264 Video

News straight from the Flash Player development team:

* You can load and play .mp4,.m4v,.m4a,.mov and .3gp files using the same NetStream API you use to load FLV files now. We did not add any sort of new API in the Flash Player. All your existing video playback front ends will work as they are. As long as they do not look at the file extension that is, though renaming the files to use the .flv file extension might help your component. The Flash Player itself does not care about file extensions, you can feed it .txt files for all it matters. The Flash Player always looks inside the file to determine what type of file it is.

* A new version of FMS is upcoming and will support the new file format. This is powerful stuff. Simply drop video files you might have encoded using one of the countless tools out there onto the server and it'll stream.

Based on the rest of Tinic's post (it is a long and somewhat technical read), it looks like Adobe will be transitioning away from the FLV format due to some technical limitations. But, I'm wondering if the change will enable some sort of rights management -- even though the post says the Flash Player will not support FairPlay protected videos, there are plenty of other rights management systems out there. Rights management is a very commonly requested feature by sites like ABC.com and others who used to stream all their video in Flash.

Lastly, now that YouTube has been encoding all their video into a Quicktime-playable format (for the iPhone and AppleTV) as well as FLV, I'm wondering when/if they will switch over to only H.264 encoding with Flash Player delivery. This is a win-win for Adobe and Apple: the Flash Player will remain the delivery method of choice due to its massive install base, and H.264/Quicktime formats have just made a comeback as the encoding choice for web delivery.

Update: Ryan Stewart answers some common questions about this update, and Aral Balkan has a very detailed FAQ on his blog. I also adjusted the title to be more technically correct, as Apple didn't invent the H.264 codec, just enables Quicktime to play the specific codec format.

What To Do When Flash CS3 QuickTime Export Freezes

One of the features I am most excited about in Flash CS3 is the full support for exporting to a QuickTime movie. Timelines no longer need to be built specifically for QuickTime export, and you can animate through code, use ActionScript 'til your heart is content, and it all outputs cleanly to a QuickTime MOV file.

Well, in theory, at least. Over the past few days I have been trying to export a project to QuickTime, specifically the "Did You Know" video we are working on at XPLANE, and the progress bar always stalls at the very end. We tried letting it sit for an hour, a few hours, and even overnight -- all to no avail. We still haven't figured out what could be causing the issue, but I did manage to get it to work by setting the QuickTime export preferences to record for a length of time, rather than "When last frame is reached":

Flash CS3 QuickTime Export Preferences

So if the progress bar freezes while exporting, try changing the setting to "After time elapsed". You can easily get the correct length in seconds by taking the total number of frames and dividing by the frame rate. It may be helpful to note that Flash CS3 itself never froze -- we could always hit the cancel button and it would stop the process immediately. In fact, every system we tested it on had the exact same issue and showed no signs of any processor or memory spiking problems.

Hope this helps others who may encounter the same issue!

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