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Old September 10th, 2007, 02:11 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Healdsburg, California
Posts: 1,138
Flash Video with Alpha

I've been approached by a client who has seen and liked my green screen work and has asked me to provide production for their web content in an FLV format that I don't know much about. Here is the scoop:

I will be shooting short snippets of their hired talent on a green screen set. Not a problem.

Then, I will be doing the typical green screen extraction to have the talent visible over an alpha channel to allow for a custom background. Again, not a problem.

Typically, this company has utilized web video in FLV format. I have used the Wildform Flix export quicktime plugins to create FLV format videos in the past and have never had a problem to that end.


This company has asked that I provide them the finished FLV videos containing just the talent over a blank alpha channel. The video snippets are intended to aid site visitors in navigating their site and they intend to show the talent with the background fully transparent, floating above their website. I have not done that particular delivery before, so I'm curious about having the right tools.

Here is a little background:

A few years ago, I bought Wildform Flix Pro 3 from Wildform. I also purchased a number of their other products - most of which I pretty much never used beyond their original novelty. (I thought I would use them more but never needed to.) What I used regularly was their quicktime plugins that allowed me to export my video files as FLV video directly from Quicktime Pro - which I found to be very handy and effortless. (The 2-pass VBR quality has always been commendable)

So when I was asked about doing this job, I decided to open up my other Wildform products (including Flix Pro) to find out about their abilities and limitations.

Lo and behold, none of them would open, stating that I needed to start them up from the same user account on which I installed them.

I'm using a Mac, and it is true that since I first installed the applications a few years ago, I experienced a major system failure and had the logic board replaced. I had to restore my sytem from a cloned backup, but the system is the same. The Wildform products don't understand this, and won't open as a consequence. I tried to re-install them from my install disc, but in order to complete installation, it needs to verify my registration info against their Wildform database - which apparently no longer exists - so the re-install doesn't complete. The error windows ask me to refer to a Flix support site that also no longer exists.

So I did some digging around and discovered that a couple of years ago, Wildfrom sold their Flix products to On2 Technologies.

On2 has updated the products and currently supports Flash 8 with their Flix software. I further have learned that with the introduction of Flash 8, Alpha channel functionality is now possible.

On2 is offering me an upgrade discount if I purchase the current version of FlixPro. With the discount, my purchase price would be $149. I can swing that, but will it do what I need it to do?

I have consequently also looked at Adobe Flash CS3....but at $699, that is quite simply out of my budget for a job like this.

I don't want to use the FlixPro or Flash software to actually DO the green screen editing or compositing. I'm already doing that in my NLE (FCP). I just need to be able to export the final video in the FLV video format with the alpha channel intact.

Does anyone have any experience with the current FlixPro software? Is it a viable solution for my needs, or is what I'm asking actually beyond the scop of current Flash delivery methods?

Any and all input would be greatly appreciated.


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Jonathan Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 10th, 2007, 02:52 PM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
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Don't you need After Effects CS3 to export an alpha FLV? If you don't want to buy it, install the trial version from their site at the last minute and export it. You will only be able to use it for a month, but it's easy.
Aric Mannion is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 16th, 2007, 11:55 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Houston, Texas
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I have been using the FlixPro to create the flv files with Alpha. There is a 2-step process however, since the FlixPro is a stand alone application.

First, export the de-interlaced file from your Mac as a QickTime MOV format. Choose the Animation codec and a color depth of Millions of colors plus. The "plus" indicates alpha channel. Your video may show some or all of the green background or even a gray-black background, but don't worry.

Then you can imput the MOV into FlixPro. Select the Vid/Aud tab and place a check in the "Alpha Channel Settings" to include the alpha channel in the FLV.

Click the Video Editor button. You will see a Chroma Key section, but do not enable it. This is an attempt to key your video which you already did in the Mac. However, I usually select the Filter Options box and add a little Noise Reduction, about 5 or so. I find that the creation of the MOV sometimes adds some artifacts but I am not sure when or why.

Then click on the encode and you will have an FLV with a transparent background. I won't go into the other settings of data rate, etc. That's another story.
Ray Orr is offline   Reply

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