Fix Your .FLV Files
Fix Your .FLV Files
.FLV or "Flash Video" is the greatest video format around for web viewing purposes. Supported by the vast majority of browsers and critical to the social video networking scene, it is nearly guaranteed to work on all of your visitors' computers.
HOWEVER...it can be glitched, and frustrating when the video stops abruptly. Here's how to fix it!
The purpose of this resource is to help you figure out why your FLV files aren't working. This page was written up from the searching, reading, trial and error I've gone through, at a time when I was frustrated with bad FLV files and needed an immediate solution.
How to Create An .FLV
It might be helpful to those who have no clue what FLV is, for starters: FLV file formats super-compress raw video (such as the .AVI format) into a file that is only a fraction of the size. You've seen them put to good use on sites like Youtube. Essentially, they allow a lot of people to watch videos without having to sit and wait for long periods of time. There is a minimal loss of audio and video quality, depending on the settings that were created for the FLV conversion.
The Flash Video format can be created through Adobe Flash, or more preferably, through 3rd party programs that are much less expensive for the average person. Here are two of the best FLV conversion programs out there:
- Sorenson Squeeze: Squeeze will compress your AVI and other uncompressed files into FLV format. Its various versions cost a small fortune ($550 for standard, $750 for pro). Their "Squish" program allows visitor-uploaded videos to convert to FLV through the server.
- RIVA FLV encoder: The free solution to making FLVs, and a pretty good one at that - select many options in your FLV conversion - from frame rate, to audio quality, movie size, bit rate and more.
Typical Errors & Problems With .FLV's
While tiny in size and decent in quality, FLVs do have their run of problems. These issues are typically due to poor (or no) meta data within the FLV file, that gives your video player the necessary information it needs to run the video from beginning to end. Here are typical problems that you most likely will encounter, during your FLV journeys:
- The FLV video stops too early
- The FLV video runs too choppy
- The FLV doesn't start at all
- The FLV periodically displays the "busy working" logo
- The FLV doesn't play the first time, but does, the 2nd time
- The FLV doesn't play on the site, but does on my computer
Thankfully, there are ways to fix these problematic FLV's:
FLVMDI: Add meta data to a poorly-converted .FLV
The FLV Meta Data Injector is a free program that inserts proper meta data into your FLV files [such as video size, length, last keyframe and more], and comes in two formats: a command-line version where you can enter your own commands (for fellow DOS geeks), or a GUI-style version that does everything for you more quickly & easily. (For the GUI, you'll also need the "FLVMDI.exe" file in the same folder as the GUI file, for it to work).
Open FLV Meta Data Injector and select the FLV file on your computer that is working improperly. Select a destination and name for the new file, check off the options you want (which will probably be "Include keyframes" and "Inject OnLastSecond Event") and simply click the "Run" button.
"Include Keyframes" inserts periodic keyframes into the video to assist with "scrubbing" the video, if it was previously not working with the scrubber bar. Sometimes, FLVs don't utilize the scrubber bar at all - and simply clicking the bar will bring the video back to the beginning -- how annoying. "Inject OnLastSecond" inserts one final second after the video, to help remedy situations where FLV videos end too early. FLVMDI can also batch process a folder full of FLV files. Don't even attempt to do more than a dozen at a time, though, as the program will probably crash.
FLVMDI also creates a report, if desired, to show you its progress. The new file *should* be working properly, unless it has deeper problems. In which case, try:
FLVCheck by Adobe Labs
Adobe created the free FLVCheck tool for FLV users, when their FLVs are not behaving properly. It is meant to be a tool that you should use before you upload an FLV file to your website. This is a command line prompt program only - meaning, there is no program that will open up when you install it, you'll need to install the EXE file, read the PDF and go to your DOS prompt.
The annoying part about this, of course, is that you'll have to type in the path to your FLV files, since this is DOS. Just put them directly into your "Documents and Settings" folder, and in the prompt, type "cd documents and settings". Then type:
flvcheck -f myvideo.flv
If there are no errors, it will display nothing at all, except the copyright info of the program. Otherwise, it will give you the code of what the error message is (a list of codes is within the PDF document). This does nothing more than let you know what exactly the problem is with your file. Afterwards, go back to FLVMDI program, that was explained above, and attempt to inject meta into the file again. Here's a more detailed explanation of FLVCheck commands at Adobe's site.
"I Did All This, But My .FLV Still Doesn't Work..."
If you've done all of the above and your video still doesn't work properly, then your FLV player script or program itself is the problem. Try another one. For instance, if a Wordpress FLV player plugin is still showing this behavior, try another FLV player plugin - you might be surprised to see that the new one works! This issue has in fact been addressed for some FLV players.
If this doesn't work, you may be out of luck. It's usually a bad sign if FLVMDI can't fix an FLV file. It may help to re-rip the video, re-convert it to an FLV, run it through FLVMDI, and hope for the best.
Unfortunately, the frustration level on fixing FLV files can be sky high. A big factor in eliminating them is by using a highly trusted commercial FLV converter - which will be an expensive path to take.
Out of curiosity...do you use Flash or HTML5 to display your FLV clips?
Hopefully this FLV guide helps :) Leave a comment, if you'd like!