Over the last couple of years video has become a staple of the internet. Not only have computers become more powerful and equipped to handle video images, but many websites now rely on video as either a source of entertainment or a way to transmit information.
One of the most popular video files found on the Internet is called FLV. FLV stands for Flash Video. It should be noted that Flash Video is a proprietary file that was created by Macromedia, now under Adobe. Flash files are commonly used all over the Internet and are especially prominent on sites such as You Tube, Google Video, MySpace, etc.
In order to view Flash files, a Flash player is required. It should be noted that while there are many stand alone Flash players, most end users are able to view Flash Files with a browser plug in. This makes it easy for web developers to embed Flash files directly into their web site for viewing by their visitors. Besides being embedded into a web site, Flash files are sometimes also embedded within SWF files. An SWF file (Shockwave Flash) is another proprietary Adobe file used for delivering video over the internet.
The FLV File Format
FLV files are composed of a video bit stream and an audio bit stream. The video bit stream that is commonly used is H.263 video standard, which is also called Sorenson Spark. The audio bit stream that is found in most Flash files is encoded as MP3. It should also be noted that FLV files support other forms of audio such as AAC and ADPCM. In addition, support for MPEG 4 is currently in the works and should be available by the end of 2007.
FLV Include Streaming Video Files
FLV files are considered to be streaming video files. The term streaming means that in order for you to view the FLV file over the Internet on your computer, you do not have to download the entire file before playing. With FLV files, chunks of the files stream from the web site server to your computer. This makes it possible to begin watching a video in real time and since download process is quicker than the viewing process ( in most cases), by the time you have completed watching the first chunk of video, more data has arrived allowing you to watch the entire video without any download lag.
Along with the ability to start a Flash video immediately without having to wait for the entire file to download, there are also other beneficial aspects of FLV files. One beneficial aspect is that you can start viewing a video at any point in the file. For instance, with a Flash file that has a length of 30 minutes, you do not have to download the entire file to view the last two minutes. You can simply position your mouse on the Flash player and move the play bar to 28:00 minutes of the file.
FLV Files Require a Flash Player to View
As stated above, most often is the case that any FLV files embedded on a website will be viewable with a browser plug in Flash player. However, it should be noted that besides browser plug in flash players, there are several other media players that support FLV files. Some of the most popular include; VLC Player, Real Player, Windows Media Player and Zoom Player.
Advantages of FLV Files
FLV files have become extremely popular for many reasons including:
- Flash can be used for a multitude of uses, for example movies, online presentations, banner ads, Internet animations, etc
- Flash files can be easily viewed by over 90% of web visitors (mostly due to the Flash player browser plug in)
- Flash files can are usually very small and can be easily downloaded
- Due to Flash's smaller size and file format, Flash can be viewed via broadband and dial up and even on slower, older computers
- A variety of different types of video files can easily be converted to the Flash format
Disadvantages of FLV Files
FLV files also have a few disadvantages. They include:
- Creating Flash content can be expensive and time consuming
- Flash files are not recognized by search engine spiders – therefore they do not add to a site's optimization
- Visitors may experience longer wait times to access a web page with Flash, especially if the visitor is using a dial up connection