MultimediaWeb 2.0

Flash Player now supports advanced MPEG-4 content

Adobe’s press release says it all: lab version of o Flash Player 9.0 supports latest and best multimedia technologies.

Thanks to YouTube and other online video services, the Adobe Flash Player browser plug in is probably the most popular video player in the world. But before this version, only the proprietary and now inefficient FLV format was supported.

Tinic Uro, a multimedia software engineer at Adobe explains that the Player now supports:

  • H.264/MPEG-4 AVC
    The best, most sofisticated and advanced video codec, capable of high quality, low bitrate video performances. H.264 is the standard for HD-TV, HD-DVD and BluRay. H.264 is better than MPEG-4 ASP/Xvid/DivX.
  • AAC and HE-AAC (a.k.a AAC SBR)
    The ISO successor of MP3, for audio. MP3 is already very good, extremely popular, and still supported by the MPEG-4 ISO standard and Flash Player. There is no practical advantage on AAC over MP3 for the music you load in your portable player, but HE-AAC achieves much better quality on very low bit rates (desired for streaming) than MP3.
  • MP4 file format
    The MP4 container was designed for many types of usages, including streaming over the Internet. An MP4 file can carry many video, audio, subtitle, scripting, VRML, XML and other metadata multiplexed and in parallel.

All this formats are parts of the ISO MPEG-4 standard.

This is a much expected update for the Flash Player and its users. Every new video on YouTube is being compressed with this technologies since June and the old ones will be converted over time.

We will see quality and speed improvements in multimedia content happening in the right way. Also, the formats of the video files people exchange will converge into a single one based on MPEG-4 standards: MP4 files containing higher-quality-for-megabyte H.264, AAC and subtitle streams.

This is also good news for the Linux and open community. A number of good MPEG-4 related authoring tools already exist and are maturing fast: x264 for video compression, FAAD/FAAC for audio, and GPAC and others for MP4.

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