video

Adobe launches Flash Media Server 3 (plus linux install notes)

Adobe have released the next version of their advanced streaming and interactivity server, Flash media Server (also previously known as Flash Communication Server). This release splits functionality between two versions – Flash Media Interactive server and Flash Media Streaming Server.


The entry of new competitors into the interactive flash streaming and server market (such as wowza pro and red5) has meant the new versions are now a lot less restricted in terms of bandwidth and connection limitations than they were previously. The new streaming only version creates a much lower entry point to the technology by providing a cut back feature set focussing purely on streaming without any of the real time interactivity tools of the full Interactive version.

New features include H.264 streaming video for enhanced quality, AAC audio, additional cryptographic and security enhancements, improved performance and flash lite 3 support for mobile applications.

Installation
Installation on a windows server is sufficiently straightforward that the included document is more than adequate, however there are a few potential snags in the the linux setup that are worth documenting for those less familiar with a bash prompt. In the example below I use Centos 5 on a xen vps.

Download the package from http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/tdrc/index.cfm?loc=en%5Fus&product=flashmediaserver (you’ll need to log into your Adobe account, so no wget download direct from their server unfortunately)

Extract FlashMediaServer3.tar.gz from the zip and upload to your server. It’s about 50mb and contains documentation and sample files that you can remove if you don’t need them (I’d recommend leaving the sample applications ‘vod’ and ‘live’ though so you can quickly check everythings working ok once you’ve installed).

I created a directory in root for extraction

cd /mkdir
fms3
cd fms3

Copy the file into your new directory and decompress with

tar -xzf FlashMediaServer3.tar.gz

Later in the install process you’ll be asked for which user and group the server runs under, create these now if you don’t want to use the default user (nobody)

groupadd fms
useradd -g fms fms

The install requires the ‘netscape portable runtime’ which without you’ll get an error -’Error: Flash Media Server needs the nspr library installed’.

To install:
yum install seamonkey-nspr.i386

you should see a message saying ‘Installing’ with some progress bars displayed, when it finishes it displays ‘Complete!’ and returns you to the prompt.

If you’re using redhat (the only officially supported linux distribution)
To install you now would use from within the extracted directory:

./installFMS

If you’re using centos 5 like me then this would give you an error message and will quit.
Instead:

./installFMS -platformWarnOnly

There are now a series of prompts to answer.

If you are just installing the developer version just press enter when asked for your serial number.
It will ask you if you like to try again, again just continue with enter unless you have a full licence.

You can press enter when asked for directory,server port and admin port as these can be configured later.
It’ll also ask if you want to run as a daemon, this is the linux version of a background service so enter yes of you want this.

Now navigate to the default installation directory:

cd /opt/adobe/fms

and enter

./fmsmgr server fms start

to initialise. Hopefully after a few seconds (it pauses and thinks for a bit) you’ll be returned to the prompt and the services are running – use top to list running processes. You should see the following processes listed:

fmscore
fmsedge
fmsmaster
fmsadmin

If not, things worth trying:

Read this:
http://kb.adobe.com/selfservice/viewContent.do?externalId=c533ee36&sliceId=1

You might be missing other required dependencies which you might be able to install using these:

yum install compat-libstdc++-33.i386
yum install seamonkey-nspr.i386
yum install libstdc++.so.5

Note:

If you create an application directory via ssh (i.e mkdir myNewApplication), remember to chown to your fms user group else you might not be able to write to the directory. cd to your applications directory then (presuming user fms and group fms):

chown fms:fms myNewApplication

17 comments January 29th, 2008

Adobe CS3 Launch webcast

It’s time for the next generation of Adobe creative products to be announced, “2 years + 80 million lines of code” they say, I’ve just watched their live webcast . . some things that caught my eye . .

Flash CS3

  • Coding enhancements including a better debugger and improved editing e.g collapsing
  • Advanced QuickTime export – wahoo! At last, you can use nested and scripted elements within video output, no more arsing about trying to render from director or trying to get a screen cap movie without dropping frames..
  • Convert animation to code – handy for taking a complex path and being able to manipulate programatically.
  • Improved import with proper Illustrator handling
  • New lightweight UI components – flex quality widgets hopefully.

Photoshop CS3

  • As somebody that enjoys photography (in particular panoramas) the ‘align layers’ features is killer, I’ve been using it heavily in the cs3 beta. Chuck a bunch of photos in, 30 seconds later you have an (almost) perfectly aligned set of images just needing slight ‘crossover’ adjustments using dodge and burn tools to match exposures , and some deft eraser work to fade any glitches.
  • Faster startup
  • Video frames to layers – plus these can then be edited in a ’stack’.

Dreamweaver CS3

  • AJAX widgets built in
  • ‘Check browser compatibility’ feature – flags up common problems in certain browsers

Aftereffects CS3

  • puppet tool: chop up and animate images easily with inverse kinematics type linking of elements
  • swf integration
  • photoshop cs3 vanishing point manipulated image to animatable 3d model in aftereffects

Encore CS3

  • Output a dvd project directly to web (with all menus + video!) as a swf

The webcast was also a great example of why it’s a good idea to have a backup Plan B when presenting a live broadcast, as when their projector failed.. then they tried to do an impromptu q & a to the gathered crowd to try and fill the down time.. damn they looked awkward and ill-prepared as they struggled with the answers lol.

Shame the downtime cut back on the full program of announcements when they resumed, but details will be out soon as they all go on sale in the next few weeks.

Add comment March 27th, 2007

Timelapse New Years Eve Videos

Here’s some videos made up of frames taken over NYE 06>07 from Aberdeen Council’s 3 webcams.

A little php script grabbed an image each minute and numerically numbered them to make it easy to import as an image sequence into flash video encoder. The ON2 codec allows for quite a big image at 15 frames per second at a reasonable bandwidth (440kbps), albeit with not much movement happening to cause video break up.

I might extend the script further to automatically grab sun-up/sun-down times from the bbc’s weather xml feed, then punt the resulting images into a short video clips courtesy of ffmpeg or similar, though I guess fading in a grey image in the background would do for 90% of the time in Aberdeen.

Add comment March 21st, 2007

Using FFMPEG for online video conversion – introduction

It seems like it’s been part of the fabric of the internet now for ages but in reality the mass acceptance of video use in webpages didn’t occur until early 2006 with the likes of Youtube gaining the publics attention, coinciding with a massive public uptake in broadband connectivity.

Now many people want the capability to add videos easily to their site .. but this demand for that technical capability is often not matched by an understanding of the potential difficulties in implementation, particularly when faced with limited resources in development or hosting provision. The variety of sources which produce video, from 100’s of mobile phone models to webcams to dv-cams, combined with different operating systems, software, codecs etc could potentially be confusing. So how do video sites deal with the all the potential options in their user input?

The battle for the dominant format for web video consumption has been won – Flash video scores very highly on cross platform capabilities, browser compatability and general public ubiquity and acceptance. It also is highly maleable in its ability to be integrated into customised interfaces and branded scenarios unlike more traditional video contenders such as quicktime and windows media, which are more suited when the use case of the media is to be downloaded and viewed on the desktop rather than embedded within a web page.

To convert user uploads to flash video (flv) we have a number of options – we could use Sorenson Squeeze installed on a (windows) server and use its ‘watch folder’ capability to convert files, or similar products such as On2 Flix SDK. These work great ‘out of the box’ but incur ongoing licence fees that are quite expensive except if you are using them at an enterprise level.

On the other hand FFMPEG is an entirely free and open source library that will convert many popular video file formats to flv, but it does require more developer effort to get to a useable solution. Like many open source projects it has its foibles (the documentation is scattered and patchy, the mailing list obtuse and unhelpful, there are complications brought by dependance on other external libraries) but if you persevere you can create a cross platform application that can be hosted on windows or linux servers without any licence fee cost.

The first step in creating a solution is to visualise the processes involved:

upload file-> analyse format of uploaded file -> convert to flv -> display

In stage 2 I’ll describe how to implement these stages using php, an ffmpeg binary and a flash video player.

2 comments March 7th, 2007

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