Flash Media Encoder is Nice! *mostly*

Just had a chance to test the Flash Media Encoder and was pretty impressed. We’ve been using Flash Media Server for our VOD materials but have gone to QuickTime for live events. The main problem with FMS with a live stream is that it will only broadcast using the Spark codec and not VP6. FME changes that by allowing a VP6-encoded stream to be bounced off of FMS and broadcast to client apps.

We tested a stream from FME capturing both a live camera feed and a DVD source and sending them out to FMS for reception by client machines This was only a test to see how well this solution would work in the situation of a live event. Like I mentioned previously, I was very impressed with the quality of result and have no reservations doing a live stream via Flash now. There are a few points-to-note picked up during the process which I will list here:

  • Will not work on Windows Vista :(
  • Seems to be very good at picking up various video and audio sources
  • Could use some advanced preset customization settings

Regarding my last point, there is a “presets.xml” file within the FME application directory that can be edited to allow for custom presets. The only drawback here is that you cannot perform custom mods on-the-fly as you must restart the app to pick up any XML changes.

A great beginning and I’m looking forward to version 1.x… or native support for VP6 in FMS3 so I can write my own capture app.

Flash Media Encoder Released

Just picked up the news from Flashcomguru that the Adobe Flash Media Encoder has been released. I’d previously tested the beta version off of Adobe Labs and was very pleased with the results. We had looked into the streaming of live events through Flash Media Server previously, but due to the limitations of the Spark codec had dismissed FMS (for live events) in favor of MPEG4. This is huge!

Flash Player Security Sandbox is Smothering Me…

I’m currently building a standalone app in Flash/AS2 translated to an execuatable via Screenweaver. What has really been a downer are the incredible restictions placed upon BitmapData.draw(), which is used heavily throughgout the application. The really terrible thing is that we own all of the domains the loaded images and video are originating from, but since a standalone app is not necessarily part of any domain, I cannot use the draw() method on any of the digital objects being loaded into this app. I understand that there is a way around this in ActionScript 3.0 using “LoaderContext.checkPolicyFile”, but we need a solution for AS2. The image loading I can get around with a proxy script but (as I understand it) there is no way to successfully invoke draw() on an flv streaming from a Flash Media Server.

I’m looking forward to the Apollo beta release on labs to see whether or not some of these restrictions will be lifted within that runtime. I imagine Apollo would be ideal for this app but since there is so little information out there- I can really only hope at this point.

Multiple Application Directories (Flash Media Server)

It’s a dead simple task to set up multiple application directories in Flash Media Server 2. I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how to do this for a while now (on and off) and the simplicity of it is astounding. I was under the false impression that this would require configuring a number of vhosts on the server- each pointing to a separate directory or partition housing many apps. This is thankfully not the case. All that needs to be done is to change the VHOST.APPSDIR entry in ‘fms.ini’ to a semicolon-separated list of directories/partitions/whatever. That is it. I’ve never seen mention of this in the documentation. Maybe I just missed it?

Some examples of this follow:
VHOST.APPSDIR = C:\appsdirectory1;C:\appsdirectory2