Memory leaks, like the corners of my Flash
February 21, 2007 11:06 AM   Subscribe

I'm struggling with Flash video. It's eating memory and crashing client browsers....

I'm trying to get videos like this one to work. Unfortunately, they're all huge (30-40 minutes long), came as Quicktime, and the powers-that-be really want 640X480 absolute best quality (for this video, that's 200MB).

My lack of knowledge of Flash, though, is showing. I've converted the Quicktime to FLV, used Flash 8 to embed it in a page (as a progressive download), and published it as a proof-of-concept. About 10-15 minutes in, though, the video crashes and takes the browser with it. It's eating memory -- Firefox goes from 100MB of memory consumption on my computer to 450MB right before the crash.

What am I doing wrong? Is it that I'm using progressive download where I should be streaming (keeping in mind that we don't have the money to buy Flash Media Server)? Should I be cutting the video up into pieces and using a playlist? Both? And? Should I switch to WMV or Real instead (or attempt to just keep it in Quicktime and find a way to stream it?)
posted by dw to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
 
Hi! Flash Video is still getting some bugs worked out... here's the lowdown, from what I know.

1) Flash Video MUST be shorter than 10 minutes, otherwise you lose sync, or run into the ugly crashes you have been.

Break it up into at least four segments.

If you're JUST looking to present a quicktime movie, and nothing else, go with real, or wmv. Unless someone suggests otherwise, I think the reason youtube and google use flash is it's ability to handle databases.
posted by emptyinside at 1:04 PM on February 21, 2007


I just tried it in Jeroen Wijering's player and I'm not having the crashing problem, though I do see the audio syncing starting to emerge 15-20 minutes in.

I'd really like to use Flash, since it embeds so much better across browsers and platforms. I'll try cutting it up, too.
posted by dw at 1:42 PM on February 21, 2007


I think you're crashing because you're overflowing some browser resource.

Flash's codec isn't as well optimized as WMV or QT (flavor MP4). You'll get much larger better movies with either of those codecs vs. Flash.

Why flash? Minimal config for clients (they all have flash).
posted by filmgeek at 2:06 PM on February 21, 2007


Despite what emptyinside has written, I really do think that Flash is currently the best medium for transmitting video over the web. However, in this situation, I think you need to do a bit of client management...

640x480 30fps video is NOT suitable for distribution via the web. As you've found, it will crash browsers, hog memory and soak up bandwidth. Not to mention the fact that even on a broadband connection the viewing experience will still be jerkier than Michael J Fox.

If they really do demand that a high-quality version is available then provide it for download in Quicktime format. But make your main web video a lower-resolution, lower quality one that everyone can watch.

If you're doing a lot of Flash video, get someone to purchase Sorenson Squeeze for you - it really does make the conversion process quicker and the end results are smaller and better quality.
posted by blag at 2:13 PM on February 21, 2007


I'll add that you probably can't use "streaming" without the Flash Media Server. (Unless someone has developed a 3rd-party alternative, and if they have, I'd love to know about it!)

With Flash video, your options are...

1. Streaming with the Media Server.
2. Progressive with stand-alone FLV files.
3. Embedded video, which is a terrible choice in almost every circumstance.

Most people use option 2.
posted by grumblebee at 2:30 PM on February 21, 2007


OK, let's say I stick with progressive and drop the video to 320x240, 15fps on the "medium" Flash video encoder setting. Is that reasonable enough for a standard broadband connection?

Sorry, Web video just isn't my area. My web geekness centers around CSS.
posted by dw at 7:43 PM on February 21, 2007


Yeah, 320x240, you could even go 30fps.

The magic number is approx 300kbs (or about 40-50Kbs). That'll work for all but the slowest DSL.

At 30fps (video frame rate) you'll get a good look (ala youtube.) if you go at 15fps (1/2 video frame rate), at the same data rate, each picture will be less compressed.
posted by filmgeek at 11:58 PM on February 21, 2007


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