CXO

Grand master of Flash to ramp up video playback

Macromedia plans to ramp up the performance of the next version of Flash by incorporating technology to make video playback faster.

Macromedia plans to ramp up the performance of the next version of Flash by incorporating technology to make video playback faster over the Web.

Participants at a Macromedia developer conference (MXDU) in Sydney were given a glimpse of a new Flash client and developer tool codenamed 8-ball and Maelstrom, respectively. With the sneak peak came the announcement of Macromedia's intention to release new video codecs.

According to Macromedia's Developer Relations product manager Mike Chambers, new video codecs in the pipeline will be of higher quality and consumes lesser bandwidth compared with competing products — even newer, upcoming versions from Microsoft and Apple.

Video codecs are a software module that offer compression for digital video, allowing for smooth playback of video content over the Web, especially for end-users on limited bandwidth. Examples of existing video codecs are MPEG, Windows Media Video (WMV), and RealPlayer.

"2004 was the year video really took off for Web sites like CNET, Amazon and American express and we want to take it to the next level," Chambers told attendees at the conference.

Meanwhile, video professionals hoping for a standalone Flash authoring tool are out of luck. Mike Downy, technical product manager for Macromedia Flash, told Builder AU there were no specific plans for a separate product.

"We don't really have any plans. What we are doing is extending the capabilities of the Flash authoring tool to be more user friendly to a video developer that wants to create interactive video. So we're going to extend the Flash authoring tool into the video pro market, not [develop] a specific tool for video professionals," Downy said.

Macromedia said the new version of the player would be available "in the second half of this year, and subject to change".

Participants at the conference were also given a glimpse of a new Flash client and developer tool codenamed 8-ball and Maelstrom, respectively.

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