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Streaming Flash, bad clients, and zoom

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Experimented with Streaming Flash Video yesterday. Turns out that the new Flash MX 2004 Pro has nice support for streaming video, with a nice little video controller that doesn't require any plugin other than Flash itself. It's limited, though, in that the video you stream must be in Flash format, not AVI or Quicktime or Real or anything like that. Streaming a FLV (Flash video) file is pretty easy to do, but actually MAKING a Flash video file is a bit of a puzzle.

The first thing I tried is to import my MPEG file into Flash itself, as it's got good support for importing video files and converting 'em to frames in Flash. Problem is, I couldn't find anything in the export menu to stream the content out as a FLV file. And the help didn't shed any help on the matter.

When you install Flash MX 2004, it installs a QuickTime plugin that several high-end video editors can use to convert video to FLV format. Problem is, I didn't wanna spend $500 just to convert some existing video. The $29 QuickTime Pro can use the plugin, but it's a pretty sad excuse for a video editor. Also if you import an MPEG file, it doesn't pass the sound channel to the export filters, so you have to convert your MPEG file into a sound-only format (like MP3 or WAV) and mix that with your video.

In short, it works but it's awfully clunky.

I then looked for other solutions. I thought I'd found my magic bullet with the free Riva FLV Encoder. It converts all kinds of formats to FLV, and it has lots of output options, so I could use Windows Movie Maker (which is thus-far the easiest and least buggy cheap video editor I've found for XP). Problem is, the Riva encoder outputs HUGE files. No matter how small or choppy I made the video, my FLV file ended up at least twice as big as the original MPEG file.

Finally I did a little bit of googling that took me full-circle. Turns out that Flash DOES have the ability to export FLV files, but it's hidden. If you go into the library of your project, which is the place where you keep all your sprites and sounds and bits of your movie, and right-click on your imported video, you can export FLV from there.

That means that I can use Flash itself as my video editor, which is fine. Got the streaming working, and it works fairly well. If you wanna see an example of Flash streaming video, check out the front page of C|NET, as they've standardized on it. IMHO, it's as nice as QT or Real or AVI streaming, but the plugin hassles aren't as bad.

Well, that project I mentioned a couple of days ago officially went bust. My wife called up the client and requested that they have the following when we show up:

1. The landowner to be available to sign off on the project
2. Their in-house notary to notarize the drawings
3. A check for our engineering fees (some going back to January)

He flew into a rage of profanity when he heard number three, insisting that he'd only pay us when the project was officially complete and permitted (e.g. when he didn't need anything from us again). He also yelled about our fees, saying that he never agreed to them (we told him from day one that we bill hourly).

Bottom line was that he intended for us to get 100% done and then he'd give us a check for whatever he felt the project was worth. And we don't do business that way.

Oh well. His project's 99% done and is gonna sit on our desk until we get a check. Man this business sucks.

This is about the coolest thing I've seen in a while. It's here. I'm still trying to figure out how the guy painted this thing.
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