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InfoQ Homepage News Adobe Announces HD Video Support for Flash and AIR

Adobe Announces HD Video Support for Flash and AIR

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Adobe has announced that the Flash Player will support the H.264 codec, the same standard deployed in Blu-Ray® and HD-DVD® high definition video players. They are also adding High Efficiency AAC (HE-AAC) audio support, as well as hardware accelerated, multi-core enhanced full screen video playback. The enhancements will also be added to the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR). These new features are initially available as a Flash Player beta on the Adobe Labs site.  The final release is target for fall of 2007.

Adobe engineer Tinic Uro provides further technical details:

  • An file format parser implementing parts of ISO 14496-12. In terms you might understand this means a very limited sub set of MPEG-4, 3GP and QuickTime movie support.
  • Support for the 3GPP timed text specification 3GPP TS 26.245. Essentially this is a standardized subtitle format within 3GP files.
  • Partial parsing support for the 'ilst' atom which is the ID3 equivalent iTunes uses to store meta data. This really more a de-facto standard which came through the ubiquity of iTunes, there is no official documentation on the format. Look here for an incomplete list of supported tags iTunes does use.
  • A software based H.264 codec with the ability to decode Base, Mainline and High profiles. This is also an ISO standard with the identifier being ISO 14496-10.
  • An AAC decoder supporting AAC Main, AAC LC and SBR (also known as HE-AAC). The corresponding ISO specification is ISO 14496-3.

ReadWriteWeb has termed this the tipping point for H.264 video. Adobe's Ryan Stewart comments on Flash catching up to Microsoft Silverlight in terms of HD capabilities:

...Prior to joining Adobe I thought Silverlight had one upped Flash Video with it’s VC-1 web video story. Then when I joined I saw how great competition is because I saw that Adobe wasn’t standing still at all, but rather pushing the envelope and making sure users had what they wanted so Flash was the best web video experience possible. I had to bite my tongue when I saw the “Flash is dying” posts ... With this update we’re going to be supporting hardware accelerated, multi-core enhanced full screen video playback and you’ll be able to view any H.264 encoded video including MP4 and MOV. Not only will your video look better, it’s going to perform better also ... Flash Player 9 went from 0 to 84.3% penetration in a matter of 3 months. I think it’s over 90% now which in 12 months is fantastic. Now that this update is available, you can start having your users upgrade which allows you to give them HD-quality video.

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