An introduction to FLV files
What is FLV?
FLV stands for "Flash Live Video". It is a format that is designed for web video playback, offering high rates of compression yet ensuring the quality. Several products convert video files to FLV format, including our FLV Converter, Sorenson Squeeze, and the On2 (Wildform Flix).
Notable users of the FLV file include Google Video, Reuters.com and YouTube.
Most FLV files use a variant of H.263 to encode the video and On2 VP6 codec. Support for encoding FLV files with the VP6 codec is provided by an encoding tool included only with Adobe Flash Professional 8 product, On2's Flix encoding tools, Sorenson Squeeze, and some other third party tools. The audio in FLV files is encoded in PCM, ADPCM, or MP3 format.
So generalizing it, if you have a video file say in MPG or AVI format, you can put that video on your website by converting (through a FLV Encoder converter) it to FLV file.
FLV Streaming - Progressive and Flash Comm Server/Wowza Media:
There are two techniques that are used to stream a FLV file from a website. Progressive and Flash Comm Server. While this may confusing for most end user, these two techniques are used depending on a few parameters. We will try to explain them -
Progressive Streaming - Introduced in Flash 7.0, this method is a low cost yet effective one for the user. An interface or video player in SWF (Flash File Format) is embedded in the HTML/Php/ASP page. This video player contains the required code to playback a FLV file from a server location. Obviously the FLV file is externally placed. The video plays as the file is downloaded and the user need not have to wait till the whole file is download.
1. No streaming servers are required based on monthly fees.
2. Consistent high quality playback at any connection speed.
3. Limited technical support required.
4. Easy to setup and maintain.
1. You cannot seek forward through the video before it is completely downloaded. You need to wait until the video is downloaded before you can navigate to a particular portion of the video.
2. Because the file is downloaded, the media physically resides on the viewer's machine. Savvy users will be able to access their browser caches or temporary Internet files and retrieve the video.
This is not necessarily harmful if you have no concerns about rights management for the video. But in case you want to protect your video, then this method of streaming is definitely not for you!
Flash Comm Server - Also known as Flash Media Server, or Wowza Media Server this method is more professional way of serving streaming video on web. While in progressive download the file is downloaded to the viewer's machine and played back at the same time, in this method the file resides on the streaming server and is not downloaded while it is played. Apart from that there is no apparent difference between progressive download. The advantage of using Flash Comm Server are twofold. First, your media is protected from thieves. Secondly viewers can seek to any portion of the video to view that portion. This is particularly helpful if you have long hours of training material on your website.
1. Ability to handle huge user load.
2. Immediate random access to different parts of a movie.
3. Video remains on server (cannot be saved by viewers).
1. Not easy to setup for the average person.
2. Monthly Fees and much costly than progressive download.
Which should be your choice?
If you are looking for a low cost effective solution to put videos on your website and you have a low to moderate traffic then progressive download technique is your best option. If you have a pretty heavy user load BBC or CNN and you are concerned about your media rights then you definitely need a streaming server setup.
Top 5 reasons to choose FLV as your streaming video format:
FLV file sizes are small compared to others (almost 60% less). Thus they take up less space on a server.
FLV file plays directly in more browsers than Windows Media, Real Player or QuickTime.
FLV players can be completely customized for logos, brandings and embedded links matching your website or product.
FLV players can play files from a database like MySQL or MS SQL Server, and are easy to manage.
Flash Communications servers are are less prone to security threats.
Links to further information
Wowza Media / Flash Media Server Information