Adobe: New Flash Beta Will Deliver 1080p in H.264

A high-level representative of Adobe told BetaNews late yesterday that "Moviestar," the code-name for the latest upgrade to its Flash Player 9 software, will indeed be capable of playing back H.264-encoded video at modern high-definition: 1920 x 1080.

Mark Randall, Adobe's Chief Strategist for Dynamic Media Organization, also told BetaNews that the newly supported H.264 format will be capable of playing back videos encoded for Apple's QuickTime. H.264 is the video encoding codec currently used in MPEG-4.

Randall's response came following BetaNews' report yesterday which noted a certain fuzziness in Adobe's PR statements yesterday, and then revealed a portion of the Moviestar beta's release notes which clearly indicate that the new player would not be capable of producing high-definition video in full-screen mode. Rather, a developer could set aside a rectangular portion of the screen, and video could play back at native resolutions within that portion.

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Though he did not say so explicitly, Randall's comments seem to indicate that native resolution could include 1080 lines of vertical resolution, if the screen size is there to support it.

He also noted that new Flash media servers "won't have to take any action to deliver H.264 videos via progressive download." This is extremely important for sites that deliver such videos already today, including special editions of YouTube for Apple-branded devices. Suddenly, Flash becomes an option for them once again on both the server and client tiers, without their content having to be re-encoded.

A blog post yesterday on the personal site of Adobe Flash Player developer Tinic Uro (made known to BetaNews early this morning by one of our readers, SirDarius - thank you, Sir!) refers to H.264 explicitly as Flash's new preferred format. Writes Uro, "We strongly encourage everyone to embrace the new standard file format. There are functional limits with the FLV structure when streaming H.264 which we could not overcome without a redesign of the file format. This is one reason we are moving away from the traditional FLV file structure."

Uro went on to write that it's his company's intention to support publicly embraced standards as much as it can, even though in the practical world, such standards are so difficult to interpret that it's not really possible for any one company to achieve that goal 100%. He advised video specialists only to use H.264, not MPEG-4 due to their proprietary additions and their accompanying restrictions.

"I am not in a position able to explain to you why we will not allow 3rd party streaming servers to stream H.264 video or AAC audio into the Flash Player," he wrote. "What I can tell you is that we do not allow this without proper licensing."

Uro went on to confirm the new player will allow multi-channel AAC audio streams, although in the distribution process, their channels will actually be minimized to two and their waveforms will be downsampled to 44.1 KHz.

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