Infrastructure for HD Web Video Begins to Take Shape

Flash media technology creator Adobe has updated its Internet player to support H.264 video-a compression standard that can dramatically improve image quality over the Internet. The player enables “the delivery of HD television quality and premium audio content through the ubiquitous Adobe Flash Player,” Adobe said in a statement.
The H.264 AVC format has been gaining momentum. Apple employs the H.264 format in its QuickTime technology, Apple TV and the iPhone. It is also the same video standard used in HD DVD and Blu-ray optical video players and many late-model cable and satellite set-top boxes.

Since Flash media players reside on 98 percent of all desktop personal computers and millions of portable devices, the new player rapidly enabled a vast improvement in video quality. It is expected to impact the quality of the expanding universe of online video that includes popular social networking sites including YouTube and MySpace.

Adobe’s player supports the H.264 compression format, the HE-ACC standard for audio, and supports hardware-accelerated, multi-core enhanced full-screen video playback. H.264 encoding was recently added to Adobe’s own Media Encoder.

Unlike the standard export commands, which generate files in editing formats, the Adobe Media Encoder exports files in distribution formats. These are more-compressed formats such as MPEG-1 used in CD-ROM authoring; MPEG-2 used in DVD authoring; H.264 MPEG-4 used for video iPods, 3GPP cell phones, PSP devices, and high-definition TVs; or web-friendly formats like Adobe Flash Video, QuickTime, RealMedia (Windows only), and Windows Media (Windows only).

While the infrastructure to distribute and display HD Web video is beginning to take shape, it will take time for HD programming to appear online. Producers of Flash video must first encode their programming for the HD format.

The public beta version of the update to Adobe Flash Player 9 software, code-named Moviestar, which includes H.264 and HE-AAC functionality, is available as a free download from Adobe Labs at The final release is expected to be available via update in the fall.