Do your own flash videos

Although being quite a bit on the early adopter side, I’ve never been knee-deep into video formats at all. I can tell a codec from a codex, been playing around with divx and sorts but that’s about it.

Today I was asked if I could “make this video be on that webpage“. WTF?! Simply embedding an .mpg was a no-go right away, I hate it when people do that, it looks crappy and at least on windows platforms it is never completely hassle-free.

So with Google-video, YouTube, Sevenload and all the others in mind I figured a “Flash video” would be the way to go — unfortunately I didn’t have a clue how this generally works and I had to figure out which tools I would need and so on. Actually it’s quite easy once you know what you need so I thought I’d share the information:

  • Convert – I tried a windows binary of ffmpeg which is said to be the swiss army knife of video conversion but I could not make it work right away, so I downloaded the free Riva FLV encoder. The tool is pretty self explanatory, choose input video, set dimensions, save, done.
  • Add Meta Information – There seems to be a problem with missing data in the .flv file, resulting in progress bars not displaying correctly during playback. Obviously you need to add some sort of data to the file, I used FLVMDI (FLV MetaData Injector) which comes with a simple GUI as well (you need both executables, flvmdi and the gui): Open .flv file, click “Run FLVMID”, done.
  • Insert into webpage – You probably want to wrap a player around the .flv file in your webpage to make it look nicer and give the user control over if and when the video is played. I used Jeroen Wijering’s free Flash Video Player. It comes with copy-and-paste-ready HTML code examples, so you should have the video up on your website in a breeze.

Easy as that. Just upload the player (4 KB) and the video to your webspace and insert the
tags into your HTML. I decided to have the player sit right in the webroot directory, the video in a separate /videos directory and everything worked right away.

In case you need more information: Jeroen has a nicely written in-depth tutorial on flash videos which might be a good place to start.

Good luck, enjoy your webvideo!

*) Apropos codec: There is a neat codec pack for windows user at xpcodecpack which seems to fulfill most — if not all — codec needs. Simply install the package, you’ll never get in touch with anything directly, but all media players you use will utilise the new codecs. Results: no more “Cannot play this video” error messages.

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