The Flash Guru
In this new monthly series, Stefan Richter answers your Flash video questions. In this installment: questions about Flash Interactive Server 3 and Flash Media Live Encoder
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Got a Flash video question? Let Stefan Richter, the Flash guru, help you out. In this new monthly series (one brought over from the recently deceased WebVideoUniverse.com), we'll be getting Flash advice from Richter using questions directly from the Streaming Media forums.

Stefan Richter
(We'll also be launching a similar series focusing on questions regarding Microsoft's Windows Media and Silverlight, with Microsoft's Ben Waggoner providing the answers.)

Richter is the founding director of Muchosmedia, a UK-based software firm specializing in rich Internet applications. The company works for an international client base that includes ITV, Unilever, and the Tate Modern, and recently launched its first product, Scribblar, an online collaboration tool which is proving popular in the eLearning community. Richter also maintains his personal blog, the popular FlashComGuru.

Our first question comes from Oxhil:

We have a Flash Interactive Server 3. We want to start using F4V. We are doing something wrong in that we cannot get it to play off of the server. I think we are using the wrong RTMP coding. Please help.

F4V is the new container format that Adobe invented for the H.264 video codec, explains Richter. It's not that much different under the hood from a standard MP4 file, except that it has a different extension.

Take the simplest possibility first, Richter says, and check that you're using the latest Flash Player. Upgrade to version 10, if you haven't already.

Adobe provides a fine-tuning tool that ships with Flash Media Live Encoder. It's called FV4 Post Processor, and it's used to flatten the file and make it more compatible.

You should also make sure that you've applied the lasted updates to your server. You don't say which version you're using in the posting, but go to the Adobe Web site and get an update, if you need it. "It could be that the server isn't up to date in terms of the file formats it recognizes," advises Richter.

The poster guesses that something might be wrong with the RTMP coding, but Richter says this isn't an issue. RTMP is for protocol, and that's a separate issue. He's certain that's not the problem here. If you can connect to the server, protocol doesn't play a role.

Finally, Richter says that Flash Media Server 3.5 has been released, and you might consider upgrading. Depending on when you purchased your software, you might be eligible for a free upgrade.

Our second question comes from Thomsany:

I am planning to make a project to stream a show over the Internet with video/audio.
I've been looking into different solutions such as Adobe's for the Flash player, which I think is the one most widely used.
What I want to do is record in one place, and then stream the video live from our servers in the data center. Is it possible to record/encode in one place and send the video to another server for streaming?
Where can I find a tutorial or some help on doing this?
Yes, it's possible, says Richter, and you're right in thinking that Flash is the best solution at the moment. It reaches the widest audience: almost everyone online has Flash pre-installed on their computers.

For live streaming, go with the Flash Media Live Encoder, says Richter. It's free from Adobe.com. It can capture the video from your camera and the audio from your microphone feed, encode them on the fly, then publish to the Flash Media Server (either your own server or one from a third-party hosting provider that supports live streaming). The Flash Media Live Encoder also gives you the option to store a copy locally.

As for tutorials, check out the resources available in the Developer section of Adobe.com, under the video heading. You can also check out this StreamingMedia.com article by Richter, which isn't a tutorial but provides a strong overview.

Submit your Flash video questions to Streaming Media’s Formats, Codecs, and Players forum, or send them directly to the author at tdreier@streamingmedia.com