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The Rise of Flash Video, Part 1 : Comments

By Tom Green

October 9, 2006



October 11, 2006 3:55 AM

I actually prefer Quicktime, because with Quicktime Pro i can easily download the video i’ve seen in 2 seconds to my desktop (unless downloading it was restricted by the maker), in FLV i can’t do that!
Actually, i was just getting annoyed by that problem in google video just before reading this article.

Brendan Goosen

October 11, 2006 4:28 AM

All Adobe needs to do is enable the flash player to see flv as native to the player without having to embed it in a flash doc and the game is over. FLV wins hands down.

Tor L

October 11, 2006 10:43 AM

Really good article, nice and in-depth. Quicktime videos might be more suitable for larger files, but for streaming small videos (e.g YouTube) it is superb.


October 11, 2006 7:35 PM

This is really quite sad actually, considering that Flash video playback is overwhelmingly bad. The players are inconsistent, and oftentimes playback stutters like mad on Macs (including on my 2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo machine).

We had good quality embedded playback in QT in 2004.
Fast forward to 2006 with flash sites becoming more popular, and playback is absolutely terrible.

BTW, Google video and and YouTube are the two sites I hate the most on the net right now for video playback.


October 11, 2006 9:49 PM

To all the QuickTime lovers I say: right now Flash Video works because of reach, not its quality. I’ll take “quick and dirty” over a “quality” video that forces me to use QT and install yet another plugin… and I bet I’m not alone.
Flash Video quality will come. Adobe/ Macromedia realised the first step was to make video easily available to all and that’s why their platform is winning.


October 12, 2006 4:29 AM

I’m no lover of QT per se. I’m just a hater of flash video, at least on Macs. The actual image quality is fine. The part that causes all the ill will toward it is the fact that on some Macs (including top-of-the-line ones with all the appropriate updates) the playback is extremely choppy at times.

Ubiquitous and bad is faint praise in my opinion.

Perhaps it is due to bad flash coding I don’t know, but when two huge sites like Google and YouTube have the exact same problems, one has to wonder if it’s something else.


October 12, 2006 8:53 AM

Another reason for the popularity and the high install rates is the size of the plugin.

Macromedia/Adobe have managed to keep the filesize to under 1 MB for the longest time and even now weighs in about 1.3 MB. All of the other plugins mentioned in the article are much bigger than that (10 MB+) may not sound like much for broadband users, but it pretty much removes the dial-up crowd.

I agree with the comments about poor quality in Flash Video. But what upsets me most, are the changes Adobe has made recently to the security model that have made distributing flash content offline nearly impossible. Things like requiring you to go to Adobe’s site to verify the installation and to make any changes to the settings for the player on your machine. Also in order to play flash embedded in HTML on a CD, you must go to their site and enter the exact path to the content on the CD.

These requirements make the statement that Flash should only be for web-based content. How unfortunate.

Tom Green

October 14, 2006 7:12 AM

Gosh I am tired of the quality remarks that are so easily tossed around. Flash Video sucks not because of the technology. It sucks because the user screws up.

I once dealt with a guy who accused me of putting out bad info and causing him to create crappy video. When I asked him how he did it he said he used over 1,000 kbps for the video data rate and the maximum stereo sound rate. Not only that he set the physical size of the video to 640 by 480 and the frame rate to 30 fps.

I have done a piece with Scott Fegette at Adobe that Demystifies Data Rate at

As for the sandbox. I agree but I suspect Apollo will kill a lot of that whining.

As for the crappy video at YouTube and Google, they both encode at a low data rate to meet the needs of the lowest common denominator.. Here’s a piece I tossed up using ON2’s new “Publish” site:’s%20Pizza

They did the encoding for me. The Vid Data Rate is 15 kbps and the audio data rate is 40 kbps. Lowest common denominator and it looks lousy. If I do the same thing at a Vid rate of 275 kps and and a audio rate of 69 the quality of the video improves. Again, don’t blame the technology.


October 14, 2006 2:01 PM

I can’t beleive some people judge Flash video quality on what they see at MySpace, Google and YouTube. Most people upload video on these sites that aren’t of great quality to begin with. Not to mention those sites encode at low bit rates and they aren’t using The latest Flash 8/9 encoder with the VP6 codec. They are still using the Sorenson Sparc codec. Here is some nice Flash video. By the way all of these examples can go full screen by right clicking.
demo fullscreen
demo fullscreen
Cars Trailer –
Full Screen Flash Video Demo


October 17, 2006 8:25 AM

Great article! Can’t wait for the next part…

I agree that doing Flash 8 video (properly) makes an enormous difference over the previous versions. In fact, after learning a lot about this through some work I had done, I put together a new site that overviews some of the latest stats and sites surrounding the rapid growth of Flash 8 video online, plus summarizes some of the different options for getting your video encoded in it… Check it out:

October 20, 2006 10:43 AM

nice article, tom, but there is more to video quality than just bitrate.

the best picture quality comes from variable bitrate two-pass encoding… you can’t do that with the macromedia software, it requires pro software tools from companies like sorenson.

youtube and similar are not doing that, and many times the user-sourced video source files that they encode from are low-bitrate garbage as well… gigo is the result… if you want good video quality on youtube, feed it the highest bitrate source file that you can.

wrt to flash taking over the online video world, there are big problems for small producers who want to serve up flash… most notably, there is no user-friendly server software available; it costs a fortune to buy the flash server software, and while open source helix will serve it up(??), how easy is that to administer?

the windows media server is free, and it works very well, with all kinds of bandwidth throttling for vbr-encoded video files… but since firefox has ~11.5% market share, and it doesn’t work natively with activex, there are good reasons for not using windows media.

no doubt quicktime is a dead duck, and so are mac computers as well… the latter only has ~3-4% of the internet desktop market share, so it’s not a factor.


October 23, 2006 11:19 AM

Does flash still use The Sorensen algorithm to playback videos?


October 23, 2006 1:57 PM

“Does flash still use The Sorensen algorithm to playback videos?”

Yes. Many websites still use Sorenson. Flash can also use the On2 VP6 codec which is much better.

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