Home > web 2.0 > Finally! Flash supports H.264 video!

Finally! Flash supports H.264 video!

August 21, 2007

I fell asleep last night dreaming about all the neat things we can finally do with Flash because Adobe now supports H.264 video with AAC audio! Lots of great tech details here.

I think it’s safe to say that everyone building web apps said “wtf?!” when Flash 9 shipped without H.264 support, and we all said “WTF!?” when Microsoft shipped Silverlight without it, too. I mean, come on! We finally have an industry standard that’s efficient, used basically everywhere but on web pages, and neither the leader (Flash) nor the upstart (Silverlight) thought to include support, opting for expensive proprietary encoding formats instead? Talk about dumb.

Silverlight, especially, is a head-scratcher. Silverlight 1.0 is focused almost entirely on video, including HD, and clearly gunning for Flash. So why wouldn’t they go right for Flash’s big Achilles heel – no H.264 support?

Oh well – that opportunity is now lost, and I believe this basically nails Silverlight 1.0’s coffin shut. (The bad Mac installation process had nearly done this for us already) Sad, because I had high hopes for how beneficial strong competition would be for those of us building Rich Internet Apps.

Adobe deserves lots of kudos for actually listening to their customers and doing what we want. Honestly, I never thought this day would come. Finally, we can all encode video without expensive closed-source Windows-only encoders. You can’t imagine how limiting that is unless you’re in the trenches, but mark my words:

You’re going to see a massive boom in the online video space shortly. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Categories: web 2.0
  1. Chris
    August 21, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    Its not a secret that Silverlight 1.1 will support H.264, see http://silverlight.net/forums/p/1424/8725.aspx#8725

  2. August 21, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    @Chris:

    Actually, that’s for something else, Microsoft PlayReady. I’ve been told by Microsoft emloyees that there are no plans to add more codecs, including H.264, to Silverlight in 1.1. They’ve cited the size of the installer as a pain point here.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if that roadmap changes rapidly now with Adobe’s announcement – how can they not respond?

  3. August 22, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    The fact that you mentioned “closed source” encoders gives me reason to believe that you’d be planning to use open source encoders for video encoding – which is fair enough, because generally the free/open source ones are easier to find and easier to use (and of course free) than their commercial counterparts.

    However, one issue that we struggle with in the video encoding arena is the legalities of using open source software like this, given that it possibly (probably?) infringes on patents (see FFMpeg’s legal page for some of my concerns).

    This has been a major problem for us in deciding where to go with our video platform; I’m curious if this is something that you guys have considered, or if it is not a big deal.

  4. Tom
    August 25, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    Silverlight uses the VC-1 codec which is just as open as H.264. It is used in more HD titles than H.264.

  5. Wes Felter
    August 27, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Given that MS makes a competing codec (Windows Media/VC-1) and MS is MS, why would you expect them to support H.264?

    Even if you’re not willing to take the legal risk with ffmpeg, at least there are H.264 encoders from many vendors available at many different price, performance, and feature levels.

  6. August 27, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    @Tom:

    Point me to a free, open-source VC-1 encoder, and I’ll believe that. 🙂

  7. Tom
    August 27, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Don, I’m not sure why there aren’t any open source encoders for VC-1. I’m guessing there will be soon. VC-1 is a SMPTE standard so people are just as free to develop an open source version of VC-1 as they are for H.264.

  8. Darryl
    September 19, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    So ahm, I guess this is maybe a hint that SmugMug may some day offer Flash video in H.264 format?

    Hooray?

  9. Dave Price
    September 28, 2007 at 2:34 am

    Don — Could you please comment on Darryl’s response above? As you know, Apple’s saying that folks would rather post video online than burn DVDs. I agree with that.

    I create slideshows using Keynote and Photo to Movie. I would like to acquire a SmugMug Pro account for clients to view these online. Is SmugMug headed in this direction?

  10. May 4, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Thanks guys that was extremely helpful!

    sandeep verma
    (http://sandeepverma.wordpress.com)

  11. zagam2
    December 25, 2009 at 11:59 am

    Even if you're not willing to take the legal risk with ffmpeg, at least there are H.264 encoders from many vendors available at many different price, performance, Free Internet Dating and feature levels.one issue that we struggle with in the video encoding arena is the legalities of using open source software like this, given that it possibly….thanks

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