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Adobe Flash CS3 Professional Video Studio Techniques

Adobe Flash CS3 Professional Video Studio Techniques

Robert Reinhardt is a definitive Flash veteran. His Flash Bible book series is one of the standard books on Flash that cover every aspect of it. Video is one of Robs favorite subjects and it shines though in this highly specialized book.

TITLE: Adobe Flash CS3 Professional Video Studio Techniques
AUTHOR: Robert Reinhardt
PUBLISHER: Adobe Press; 1 Pap/Cdr edition (August 19, 2007)
ISBN: 978-0321480378
PAGES: 348 Color
CD: Yes
PRICE: £31.99 UK / $34.64 USA / $37.79 CAN
Click here to order

Robert Reinhardt is quite an institution when it comes to Flash and books about it. He has (co)authored more than 15 books on the subject over the last seven years. It all started with The Flash Bible that is cowritten with his spouse, Snow Dowd. Adobe Flash CS3 Professional Video Studio Techniques is written by Rob only. He frequently speaks on conferences and video is often the topic, so he's clearly well qualified to write this book.

The book is focused on Flash 8 and 9 (CS3), but it also covers earlier versions. Most examples are AS3 and that is a wise choice. The book is very "step by step" oriented, maybe a bit too much for my taste but many beginners love this. The book will take you from a beginner to a seasoned Flash video professional if you read it all. It is filled with good advice and explains all the video workflows that I can think of. Rob has researched a lot of subjects thoroughly and the reader reaps the benefit.

One great example is the Online compression calculator. We've wanted something like that for a long time. All you do is to provide some info about your source material and the tool will tell you what settings to use when compressing. You can even download a pre-made project file for either Squeeze or Flix. This tool available to all, even if you don't buy the book, so go bookmark it.

 

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If you do Flash video for the web, the Online FLV bitrate calculator is a gem

 

Structure

The book is split into three main parts:

  • The basics of video compression
  • How to use the pre-made video tools in Flash 6 to CS3
  • Creative Explorations


Each part is thorough. In fact so much that we marvel a little at how big Flash has become. Video is after all just a small part of the Flash feature set and now one can write entire books about it? The first part covers all the basics: capturing, encoding, deploying as well as the basic theory you need to work with video. Video related concepts such as interlacing, bitrates and codecs are well explained.

The second part starts off by explaining the FLVPlayback component and some simple uses. It closes off with reading metadata, supporting multiple bitrates and double buffering. This alone would make a good book. The last third is devoted to hands on projects. The last two are complete and complex projects: an Interactive Video Host (pure fun) and a web feature based around the Apollo 13 video from archive.org. These examples show every step from the treatment of the initial material using Adobe After Effects, encoding, embedding with SwfObject, implementing fallback content, linking from HTML and deployment. Really good stuff.

To avoid any rights issues, Robert has used clips of his dog and father in law. This gives a quite personal tone to the book, a little different from the Flash Bible series. To learn cue-points - "This short video clip demnstrates five tricks performed by my dog Stella". Fun! The examples that come with the book are all of very high quality. Rob has written several extra classes to do the heavy lifting for you (double buffering, displaying poster images, playlist, thumbnails and more). The book does not cover in detail how these classes work, but that's just fine as this is a book about video, not programming. Those interested can just open the classes to study or change them to their liking.

As opposed to many books, the appendixes are actually good and provides value. Our favorite is probably appendix C that covers the variety of video encoding tools available and how they stack up.

 

Conclusion

Though he covers other tools, Rob has a strong preference for Sorenson's Squeeze and we really can't blame him for that. This is also our favorite compression tool as Sorenson Squeeze consistently produces better looking results than any other tool we've used (at comparable bitrates). Some of the examples in this book require either Squeeze or After Effects, but all the resulting files are on the accompanying DVD (7Gb of source material!). You can also download 30 day trial versions of both. While the book covers former versions, the focus is on AS3. This is the right choice as there are several books on the market that still just cover AS2 but claim to be for CS3. The book is thorough and covers most of those small things that will leave beginners puzzled. One such thing is the Flash Video Encoders incapability to encode MPG audio. Rob provides the recipe and suggest some good freely downloadable tools that can solve this.

The book also covers briefly about what equipment you'll need for the kind of projects you'd take on yourself. We would certainly add a lighting setup to the list. Proper lighting is one of those things that makes video look either cheap or professional and if you're serious about video, we recommend getting a book dedicated to lighting for video. The book really covers you from A to Z, so if you're only buying one book about Flash video, we have no problem recommending this to be the one.

 

About Jens C Brynildsen

Jens has been working with Flash since version 3 came out. Since then, he's been an active member of the Flash community. He's created more than a hundred Flash games (thus the name of his blog) but he also creates web/standalone applications, does workshops and other consulting. He loves playing with new technology and he is convinced that the moment you stop learning you die (creatively speaking). Jens is also the Editor of this website.

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