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Two of the actions that the Flash Video Import Wizard gives us for using video in Flash require the use of the Flash Media Server. It's beyond the scope of this title to cover the Flash Media Server in detail, but it's worth taking a brief look at what the Flash Media Server is in contrast to using Flash video without the Media Server so that you can decide if it's something that you want to investigate on your own more deeply. Adobe's Flash Media Server is separate software that adds server capabilities to Flash applications. You can develop applications for the Flash Media Server using the standard tools that ship with Flash CS3 and your end user can playback applications that use the Flash Media Server in the normal Flash Player.
To get Media Server capabilities, you can either purchase the Flash Media Server as a product and install on your own server or pay a hosting service that utilizes the Flash Media Server. If you're using your own installed Flash Media Server, you'd select the third option from the Import Wizard. If you using a hosting service for Flash Media Server, you'd select the second option. A developer version of the Flash Media Server is free and fully functional for creating Flash Media Server applications as well as testing them with your team. In the context of video of the main reason for using Flash Media Server is to allow for true video streaming.
Now we already mentioned that Flash is capable of streaming video as progressive download without Flash Media Server. With progressive download, the option that we talked about in the previous movie, the video file is streamed sequentially from the server, stored on the end user's hard drive when it's downloaded and it's played from the end user's hard drive. This means that if you have a three-minute video file, the user can be watching the first minute of the video while in the background they're downloading the next minute. However with progressive download, there is no way to watch minute three until the first two minutes have completely downloaded. This is fine for most videos, especially shorter ones, because most people watching videos start at the beginning and watch it sequentially.
But so you're putting up an hour-long video file for a training program or college course that was online, if the user decided that they already knew the first segment of the material and wanted to skip ahead, there is no way that they can skip 45 minutes into the file until the first 44 minutes have been fully downloaded. This can take a very long time and the user probably wouldn't want to wait around for that. With live streaming there would be no wait. Live streaming means that whatever part of the file the user's watching, it's streaming directly from the server and if they want to skip right to 45 minutes, they scrub to 45 minutes and it begins downloading from the server immediately. This is the type is streaming the requires the Media Server.
The other major advantage of the Media Server is that because it can happen live in real time, you can do a live streaming event as it takes place. This means an event taking place in one location to be videotaped, captured and streamed to a Media Server in virtually real-time, streaming it to as many simultaneous viewers as possible. All versions of the Flash Media Server support this live streaming. More advanced and expensive versions of the Flash Media Server include other features that allow you to create multiuser applications, do videoconferencing, multiuser games and to control digital rights management.
Again, everything that we're doing in this title can be done without the use of the Flash Media Server but if you're doing longer form videos, if you need to stream a live video event, if you need to record video files to a server, or if you're concerned with digital rights management then you should look deeper into the Flash Media Server. If you'd like to find out more, visit adobe.com and see Lisa Larsen Kelly's title on Flash Media Server at lynda.com. For now, we'll go on and continue importing our video into Flash.
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