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.

10 thoughts on “Flash Player now supports advanced MPEG-4 content”

  1. I don’t understand. Are you saying that YT is converging to standard codecs (so we could use YT without the Flash plugin), or merely to a proprietary plugin (Flash) that also supports standard video formats?

    Somehow I doubt we would ever find the Powers That Be allowing us drones to choose a completely free (libre) solution.

    So why is this a good thing again?

  2. Joe, what I am saying is that this is the best we can get now.

    Flash dominates the web. This is not bad since it is free (as in beer), but it is also not so good because it is proprietary. Anyway, it is available on Linux too.

    MPEG-4 is open but requires royalties to be implemented. But many free (as in freedom) implementations exist.

    Amongst all multimedia animals out there, MPEG-4 set of technologies are the best, most advanced and most well adopted across many industries.

  3. I think this isn’t good news, MPEG4 is just as encumbered as FLV is. If they supported Ogg Theora, it would be interesting, but this isn’t.

  4. You might want to note that the current RC from Adobe Labs is mistakenly marked as requiring an executable stack, making it fail due to selinux policy. execstack -c will clear the bit from libflashplayer.so and allow it to function.

  5. Kevin, only because Theora is libre it doesn’t mean it is a good codec.

    Theora is as good as MPEG-1 (read very old and obsolete) and have an extremely week ecosystem.

    And what do you mean by “MPEG4 is just as encumbered as FLV” ?

  6. Unfortunately Adobe are not supporting the rtsp standard for streaming H264/MP4. They are insisting on only supporting their own proprietary protocol that only works on their stack.

  7. Will it be free or open enough that a distribution like Fedora would include it in its offering?

  8. Richi, for Fedora to include it, there is no such thing as open enough. It should be completely open source and free of patents.

    So no, it won’t. But you can install it with yum from Adobe’s RPM repository. Just follow this tips.

  9. > Richi, for Fedora to include it, there is no such thing as open enough. It should be completely open source and free of patents.

    And that’s exactly what I meant by “just as encumbered”: MPEG4 is patent-encumbered, so there’s no Free implementations legal in the US and some other countries.

  10. In this era of our industry, big new things do not use to born open in any manner.

    I don’t blame the creator, they know these are big things and they want to monetize it and currently the Open Source model is not the best way to monetize things.

    In the case of Flash and H.264 video codec, since there is no equivalent in the open standards and open source world that is as complex, as powerful and as mature, the current situation with Flash+MPEG-4 is the best we can get.

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