For all the Chocolate Rain lovers out there (YouTube knows who you are), wishing for a higher-quality video experience, the latest beta release of the ubiquitous Adobe Flash Player is your proverbial genie let loose from the bottle.Appropriately code-named Moviestar, Adobe Flash Player 9, Update 3, Beta 2 now includes support for the H.264 video standard. This standard is already familiar to most A/V geeks, considering it is the same one used in both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD video players. As soon you upgrade your Flash Player, you too can enjoy streaming video and audio in high definition.
Why did Adobe bring this functionality to market in a beta rather than a full release? As Ron Burgandy would say, video on the web is kind of a big deal.
As consumers decide how they want to view the myriad video streams available to them, content creators must also decide how to produce their videos. Perhaps Adobe saw the time was ripe to bring support for the H.264 standard to market in hopes of maintaining its sizable marketshare.
According to Tinic Uro, an engineer at Adobe that's actually working on the Flash Player, the benefits for consumers will be widely apparent, but there are specific perks for producers of HD content, too. In Tirin's blog post, which goes into extreme technical detail about the new version of Flash Player, he mentions three specific scenarios where content creators will truly feel the difference:
# You are a podcaster currently distributing via iTunes, but you don't want to be locked into that single platform for distribution. (You may also want to reach listeners who do not have Quicktime installed.) With the new Flash, you can publish your podcast in .m4a format and make it available to any webpage.
# You are part of an organization that produces media in multiple formats. Your company is preparing to invest in Web video or video archiving, but nobody is certain which format to commit to. Adobe's beta now supports MPEG-4, a well documented ISO standard that is vendor independent. This means your organization no longer has to worry about producing content that may one day be rendered obsolete.
# You are an open source advocate and you want to use open source applications to encode your video. Open source applications are in fact available to support the encoding of video, which can then be made available to the Flash Player.
If you are itching to get your hands (and eyes) on the newest version of Flash, head over to Adobe Labs and start the download.
Do you create your own video? What's your take on the new version? Let us know.