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Book Review: Adobe Flash CS3 Professional Video Studio Techniques By Robert Reinhardt

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Flash video is everywhere. From Google video, to YouTube, to major television websites, to the average hobbyist website, Flash Video is the rage. It is the defacto standard for video content creation for those who want to offer pain-free, high quality content.

Robert Reinhardt is the VP of the Multimedia Platform Group for Schematic and is a well respected authority on Flash and Flash Video. He has authored numerous books on Flash including the Flash Bible Series. So it is only logical that he has created Adobe Flash CS3 Professional Video Studio Techniques.

Adobe Flash CS3 Professional Video Studio Techniques goes beyond the basics of Flash Video coverage that is found in most books. It serves as a guide to the world of Flash Video. Its goal is to take you through all levels of Flash Video production so that you can understand and can build a solid foundation from which to build upon. Adobe Flash CS3 Professional Video Studio Techniques is 376 pages in length, breaks out into 12 chapters that are divided into 3 functional areas.

Working Foundations covers creating, capturing, and processing raw footage.

Chapter 1, "Pre-Production Primer," will give you insight on how to prepare your project. You should not shoot first and plan later. Presented here are the questions that you need to ask before you begin to shoot so that you can create the footage you need. Chapter 2, "Capturing and Processing Video," brings out the dos and don'ts of video capture. Here you will begin with the video and the capture process and finish with processing the video by using Adobe After Effects.

Chapter 3, "Compression Primer," is all about what to keep and what to throw away. Because storage and bandwidth is limited, you have to compress. Knowing how to achieve the best results while using compression is essential in creating a successful Flash Video. Chapter 4, "Delivery and Deployment Primer," is the next step to taking your video content to the web. To provide for the best experience, you must know how best to distribute your video files on web servers, streaming servers, and, potentially, even to a content distribution network.

Production Essentials covers building the Flash Movie.

Chapter 5, "Placing Flash Video on a Web Page," explains the different techniques for getting your Flash Videos to play in a web page. In this chapter you will learn how to set up Flash movie video players using Adobe Dreamweaver and Adobe Flash. Chapter 6, "Exploring the FLVPlayback Components," takes you to the next level. In the previous chapter you learned how to play back in a web page – now you will learn how to gain more control by using the FLVPlayback components and implementing their additional features for a more customized playback experience.

Chapter 7, "Building your own Video Player," shows you that if you only need simple playback controls, you can reduce the size of your implementation by building your own video player and using the NetConnection, NetStream, and Video classes to play a video. Chapter 8, "Integrating Multiple Bitrates," will show you how to create the user experience of having multiple bitrates using ActionScript even though Flash Video does not truly offer this feature as yet. You will learn how to evaluate the needs for multiple data rates as well as how to build the SMIL file, and effectively use it with the FLVPlayback Components.

Creative Explorations covers building a variety of user interfaces that incorporate Flash Video Content.

Chapter 9, "Building a Video Index and Playlist," will show that now that you have created Flash files that can load Flash Video files using either your custom code or the FLVPlayback components, you are now ready to tackle the interfaces that control the more advanced functionality. Here you will learn how to use a number of techniques to enhance the users experience. Chapter 10, "Constructing Banner Ads and Captioned Video" is about building a video banner ad without using components, and adding simple captions below the video area. Then you will learn about captioning video with the new ActionScript 3 FLVPlaybackCaptioning component in Flash CS3.

Chapter 11, "Constructing an Interactive Video Host," will show you how to create a Flash movie that features a video host who speaks words under the direction of the user. In this example the user drops words into a dialog box and the video host says them. It is pretty simplistic, but does show the technique pretty well. Chapter 12, "Delivering a Reliable Video Experience," finishes off the book by teaching you how to put into use everything you have learned, and how to put together the requirements for successful Flash Video deployment. The example here showcases the half-hour documentary "Apollo 13: Houston, We Have a Problem."

Adobe Flash CS3 Professional Video Studio Techniques is now the standard on Flash Video production. This book is well thought out and well put together. It truly captures the author's knowledge on the subject of Flash Video. Considering the scope of information that is included in this book, it is really quite remarkable.

The one caveat that I must offer about Adobe Flash CS3 Professional Video Studio Techniques is that to produce quality videos you have to have quality production software. Along with some other products, the Adobe CS3 merchandise that Reinhardt uses in this book include After Effects, Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro. Time-limited versions are available for download so that you can work with the examples in the book.

Adobe Flash CS3 Professional Video Studio Techniques comes with a DVD that contains video source files, including the High Definition video clips so that you can perfect your Flash Video compression skills. The DVD alone is worth the price of the book. If you are serious about quality development and deployment of Flash Video, then Adobe Flash CS3 Professional Video Studio Techniques is a must-have.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
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