How To Convert Video To Flash


POSTED ON TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2011 AT 10:51 AM

In our last article, we talked about how to add music and video to your website and pointed you to a couple of different video players you can use to play videos on your website. We ended the article by asking the question "how do you convert music and video files to Flash format?" The video players we recommended in our last article require that your videos be encoded in either H.264 format of a format known as FLV format which stands for Flash Video format (the H.264 video format allows you to create video for use with the iPod, certain smartphones including the iPhone and other devices). We'll be referring to FLV format in this article so let's take a look at a few software utilities available on the market which can help you to convert your videos to FLV format.

Being dedicated and devoted Macintosh computer users here at MW Web Design, a few of the utilities listed below won't be of any help to Windows users (sorry about that). Macs are our specialty — both in a technical sense and in terms of web design. Here is a list of software utilities which can help you to accomplish the job (we've noted which ones are available for both Mac and PC as well as the ones which are Mac-only).

Adobe Media Encoder

This is the king of Flash conversion utilities — the one we use ourselves here at MW Web Design. Adobe Media Encoder is a stand-alone video encoding application which lets you encode both audio and video in a variety of different distribution formats. Unfortunately, you can't purchase it separately. It is included with certain editions of Adobe Creative Suite and other Adobe products including Adobe Flash Professional, Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects. Out of all the software we've used, this one does the best job of converting your video files to FLV format. Adobe Media Encoder is an extremely high-quality product which is available for both Mac and PC.

Prism

NCH Software offers some really handy utilities for both Macs and PC's. Prism is a $50 dollar universal video converter which supports all popular video file formats. You can download a free trial of Prism which allows you to use all of its features for 14 days. After the 14-day trial period expires, you can still continue to use the software for free with some limitations. The Unlicensed Basic Free Version lets you to convert your video files to six different formats — AVI, MPG, 3GP, MP4, MOV and FLV. So you can basically drag and drop a QuickTime video file into Prism's window and convert it to FLV format with a simple click. It works well and has a number of different output options for the technically advanced. It is available in both Mac and PC versions.

ffmpegX

ffmpegX may be a tad bit confusing for the average computer user but this Mac-only utility offers support for converting most movie formats to FLV format. You can try it for free (registering your copy for $15 dollars will help to support continued development of the utility). Note that the latest version (version 0.0.9y at the time of writing) is in beta. ffmpegX will prompt you to install additional components after launching it for the first time — these additional SourceForge components are necessary for the proper operation of the utility so don't panic when you're asked to download extra files. There are a number of parameters you can change in order to get better (and larger) output but you may wish to familiarize yourself with the utility first by trying a few "test runs" with your videos. This handy tutorial will help you to get started. It's important to note that ffmpegX hasn't been updated since January of 2008 even though it works just fine with Mac OS X 10.6.6. Our advice is to grab this utility while you can in case any future development of the utility goes to the wayside like VisualHub (see below).

VisualHub

This utility was an absolute gem. Notice that we said it was an absolute gem. VisualHub was unfortunately discontinued a few years ago. We were lucky enough to have paid for a copy back when it was still actively being developed and maintained. The reason we're mentioning it here is because the source code for the software is still online under various project names and there's also a SourceForge page where you may eventually find something of use depending upon the development progress. I guess the real reason we've mentioned VisualHub is because we wish the developer would re-consider bringing it back (hint, hint). It was that good. Note that VisualHub and its newer successors are Mac-only utilities.

[Updated 07.08.13] VisualHub seems to be back, well — sort of.

iFFmpeg

Not to be confused with ffmpegX, iFFmpeg is a great little Mac-only shareware utility which costs $10 dollars. This could very well be the ideal substitute for VisualHub — the developer has done a really nice job of making it easy to use. You can convert five videos for free and decide on whether or not you wish to purchase it after the trial period expires. We took a short video in AVI format with our digital camera, dragged it into the iFFmpeg window, selected FLASH [.flv] from the Codec menu and without configuring any special settings, we clicked on the Start button and within 20 seconds, our video was converted to FLV format. We previewed it in our trusty old copy of Adobe Media Player and the converted video played beautifully. When you download iFFmpeg, you'll also need to download an FFmpeg "binary" and place the binary in the iFFmpeg folder inside of the Application Support folder in your User Library (a link to the latest, stable binary release is provided on the developer's website — the utility also instructs you to do this when you first launch it, telling you exactly where to place the file). Really nice work and very elegant — just the way Mac software should be. It does the job very well.

QuickTime 7 Pro

Apple's QuickTime 7 Pro is available for both Mac and PC. We've come across a few older posts on the Internet which state that QuickTime Pro can convert your movies to FLV format by using the File >> Export >> Movie to Flash Video (FLV) function but this is not the case with QuickTime Pro version 7.6.6 (the current version for Snow Leopard users at the time of writing). Sorry folks. The current version of QuickTime 7 Pro offers no support for converting your video files to Flash format. Note that QuickTime 7 Pro is a $30 dollar paid upgrade, still available from Apple. Also note that the version of QuickTime which ships with the latest version of Mac OS X (version 10.6.6 at the time of writing) is version 10 — now called "QuickTime X". QuickTime X can save videos in iPod, iPhone and HD 480p format but it does not have the advanced exporting features which QuickTime 7 Pro has.

VLC Media Player

How do you preview your newly-converted FLV files on your Mac? The answer is simple. WIth VLC Media Player, the Swiss Army Knife of multimedia players. Note that VLC Media Player does not convert your video files to FLV format but it will allow you to watch them on your Mac before uploading them to your website (Mac OS X on its own does not offer native playback of FLV files). VLC Media Player is available for both Mac and PC.

Other Options

There are lots of other utilities on the market which can convert many different video formats to FLV format. Some are better than others, some give you much more control over the conversion process, some are very low-priced and others are very costly for what they do. It wasn't our goal to list them all here since we obviously haven't been able to try them all out. Instead, we've opted to list the ones we've used with the confidence in knowing that they will be a reliable recommendation for those reading this article.

There are a number of websites on the Internet which offer to convert your files to and from many different formats for free (actual websites themselves, not software applications which run on your own computer). And aside from the free websites, there are also a few fee-based websites out there which allow you to upload your files to a server and have them come back to you in whichever format you wish. Since we have no experience with these websites, let alone the quality of the finished product, we haven't listed them here. As a result, we cannot make any recommendations as to which ones may be helpful at this time.

If we do happen to come across a quality website which can help you with the FLV conversion process, we'll definitely post an update for you.

* Prices of the above utilities are shown in US dollars.

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