How Flash Video Works
The Flash format uses two types of file to deliver video: SWF and FLV. This page provides an overview of how these files work together.
- SWF : The standard Flash file format used in web pages and other delivery media.
- FLV : A special file type used for Flash video. This file type is not played back directly — it must be embedded in (or linked from) an SWF file.
The idea is to use a "container" SWF file from which to play the FLV file. The most common approach is to use an SWF file which functions as a media player with video screen and playback controls, as per the example below.
This is an SWF file called player_200x200.swf. By itself it does nothing — it's just a blank screen with non-functional controls.
To add video, we give the SWF file instructions to open an FLV file, in this case a file called testclip-4sec.flv. The FLV file appears in the screen and the controls become active.
If you want to make a player yourself, the Adobe Flash authoring program includes pre-made video playback components which you can use in your SWF files. The example above was made in only a few minutes using drag-and-drop operations in Flash. If you prefer, you can use Flash's coding language Actionscript to create a more customized interface.
As you can imagine, the creative possibilities are endless. Once you have mastered the basics you can:
- Add a playlist menu so the user can select which video clip to view.
- Add interactive elements to the video.
- Add more video controls such as brightness, screen size, etc.
- .... and much more!
If you don't want to make your own player or if you don't own Flash, you can download one of our video players.