Adobe ditch FLV support in CC 2014

I’m currently going through the process of updating my Creative Cloud applications to CC 2014. I wasn’t aware that the release was even due until I received an email from Red Giant telling me that the latest update of their popular suite of After Effects plugins was fully compatible with the latest release of Adobe CC 2014 announced TODAY. Odd that. Given that I have a Creative Cloud panel, winking away in my task bar throughout the working day, Adobe appear reluctant to use it to actually promote their own products.

So I check out my CC panel and sure enough there’s a host of new software packages to update. First thing I thought I’d do was to check out After Effects’ release notes – I click the “What’s New” link under the After Effects CC 2014 icon in my Creative Cloud Panel and fire up a webpage. Hmmm. Not much to see so far. So I dig a little deeper and click “See full release notes”. At the bottom of a list of sections similar to what I’d just read I hit a tantalisingly tiny link titled “show all” and lo, a few more sections drop down, the last of which is called “Miscellaneous updates” – I can’t resist. Click! There, tucked away at the bottom, I read the following:

• You cannot export to the following formats in the 2014 version of After Effects CC. However, you can still import these file formats into After Effects.
FLV/F4V
MPEG-2
H.264
WMV
SWF

Now that was news! No FLV export from After Effects. Adobe are killing off FLV. Surely not. They must be passing that over to Adobe Media Encoder CC 2014. So I head back to my task bar and rummage around for the necessary link in my CC panel. I arrive at a page listing various features and notice a refreshingly optimistic bullet point.

• Broad format support

Sounds good, but it didn’t have any further information. I noticed in the “Learn Media Encoder” panel a blue button labelled “LEARN NOW”. Half expecting a broken link, I chanced my arm and hit my mouse button. I arrived at fresh page, headed by a thumbnail and the line: “New features summary (2014)” CLICK! I arrived at a page containing the following:

Removal of FLV and F4V export formats

Starting with the June 2014 release, Adobe Media Encoder will not include Flash export capabilities, and thus you will not be able to export projects to FLV or F4V formats.

You can use previous versions of Adobe Media Encoder if you want to export to FLV and F4V formats.

You can however still import FLV and F4V files into Adobe Media Encoder.

Well, that settles it. Adobe are killing off the FLV, they’ve buried it away in the small print, but the world’s most ubiquitous video format is no more. At least as far as Adobe are concerned.

The meaning of this? Search me! Admittedly, Flash is dead on the desktop, but it’s very much alive off-line. Digital signage, touchscreen kiosks, even app development using Adobe Air. It’s not unusual especially in quite locked down or content managed situations to be asked to embed small videos on Flash’s timeline. Not anymore though. Only FLVs can be embedded on the timeline.

I’m particularly lamenting the demise of the embedded cue point. Although other formats may offer superior compression, they don’t support cue points!

I guess there are a million online utilities and applications available to help me convert video to FLV if I really need to. YouTube for instance, but it does beggar belief that Adobe should stop supporting such a widely used format without even a hint of a press release. Unless…

Since Adobe switched to the cloud as a means of distributing products, an interesting thing has happened. Software pirates can’t be arsed updating their cracks and warez along with Adobe’s regular releases. Effectively making it very difficult for people to maintain the latest version of software illegally. There have been a couple of really significant features released recently that weren’t saved for a full version release but were instead pushed out through an automatic Creative Cloud update. For example:
Illustrator – Rounded corner editing – very cool feature.
Edge Animate – JS code embedding, Audio support
Flash – Mobile Device Packaging

Scanning through the various feature updates released across the platform today, either Adobe are out of ideas or are releasing as few new features as possible with full version releases of software, in an attempt to foil pirates and more regularly push exciting new product features directly to their customers via the CC panel.

Adobe certainly have a history of dropping features only to re-instate them further down the line. Remember animated gif support being dropped from Photoshop? Outrageous! What about Flash’s Motion Tween Panel and Projector export, both dropped recently – both reinstated in CC 2014.

Either way, I can’t help but feel annoyed. I remember looking forward to software releases. Nowadays I dread them, I could lose as much as I gain.

Talk of the Devil! A little red notification panel just winked up in the top right corner of my monitor. Apparently I have eight software updates to make in order to get my Adobe products up-to-date. Must dash!

What will a high speed rail link from Manchester to London do for me?

Yesterday I read, to my bewilderment, that England is to get a high speed rail network. What will that mean to me? Mancunian’s can revel that their journey time to London will be cut by an hour! Well, half an hour because you’ll have to get yourself to Stockport first. How much will the luxury of this extra half hour cost? A mere £33 Billion! Let’s write that in full. £33,000,000,000!

According to the The Independent on Monday 28 January 2013, the tickets will cost us as much as £1,000. Other sources suggest that ministers have ruled out price hikes but given that it currently costs around £441 for a First Class Open Return with Virgin, we can bet that it will be at least 10% more expensive. So let’s recap. For an investment of £33 Billion and a 10-50% increase on ticket prices, we will get a half hour reduction in our journey time.

How long do we have to wait for this boon? What’s that? Twenty years!

As a self employed digital designer who works for clients all over the country, you might expect me to do a great deal of travelling? Actually, about 80% of the work I do is from my office. Mostly, my clients are happy using Skype and Video conferencing technology to manage projects remotely. Thanks to these technologies I can demo projects, make presentations, exchange documents and enjoy instant connectivity with remote colleagues without ever having to leave my chair. We only have to glance at the products emerging from the audio visual technology sectors to realise that these new channels of communication will play a big part in the future of commerce. Huge online gaming communities already exist and what’s more, our children are already engaging with them. As the internet and wireless networks continue to improve and the attitude of the general population towards technology continue to mature, the shape of our companies will evolve too. Why would a business suffer the overhead of a large premises when they could downsize and manage a high percentage of their staff remotely? We accept that the high street will have to evolve quickly to survive, why not business too? In a world where the consumer can scan a barcode with their iPhone and instantly purchase the item at the cheapest possible price, the high street must change. In a world where an HD video conferencing wall, could potentially double the size of a boardroom table and connect you to any member of staff anywhere in the world instantaneously, business will have to adapt too.

Of course physical collaboration will still need to happen, especially in manufacturing, but as technology and video conferencing suites become cheaper and a greater part of our lives is spent within these virtual environments, it will become more and more commonplace to conduct our business online.

Environmentally, as the price of fuel climbs the pressure to work remotely will increase too. As the cost of running cars will make it more expensive to travel, the radius we will be prepared to commute will contract.

If you think I’m beginning to sound like Arthur C. Clarke, can I remind you that twenty years is a long time and that even politicians would point out that investment in bringing high speed broadband to rural communities is part of this reality; although personally I think an improved wireless network infrastructure, would have been an investment in the future.

Maybe I’m just cynical but I continue to note with interest how little IT or computer studies is being mentioned in the current debate raging over the English Baccalaureate Certificates (EBCs) being introduced to replace GSCEs from 2015. Maybe a computer savvy workforce isn’t a good thing? If we all worked from home as self-employed sole-traders, what implications would that have on Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs? It might make it difficult to pay for those high speed trains. You know, the shiny new trains, the ones with nobody on them.

Spam!

I’ve been simply bombarded by spam recently – I had over 3,000 comments in the last 24 hours – none of them genuine. This blog’s pretty low profile and I haven’t spent much time looking after it but it’s up there to help anyone who’s interested. If you arrive here and find anything interesting please comment good, bad or indifferent, it’ll be such a refreshing change.

Mostly Flash CS4 Bugs

Here’s a subject I’ve always meant to spend some time on. While I’m a big fan of Flash there are things about it I hate.

1) CS4 – Web browser based Help system, and fancy making it an online system by default! I really miss the facility to select an action, hit the question mark and get instant usage examples. It helped me a lot. I actually find myself running CS3 when doing something in AS1.0 or AS2.0 just for the old help system.

2) CS4 – Seems to crash a lot!

3) CS4 – Sometimes when I select a frame label or a link in the properties panel – the content vanishes!

4) All Versions – When working with vectors, sometime if I drag a selection around a small part of the vector – the entire vector shape disappears. Usually when tidying up an untidy edge.

5) CS4 – I like the default timeline on the bottom, like After Effects or FCP but why does my context sensitive right click pop-up menu have to scroll?

6) CS4 – In CS3 I could embed a Quicktime video clip directly into the timeline and Flash would convert it. In CS3 I can only do it with a FLV. The problem is that the compression isn’t as good. Guess what I have to do. I do it in CS3 copy the resulting converted video and paste it into my CS4 project. It still works, it’s just that CS4 won’t let me do it directly anymore. What a hassle.

iPhone annoyances

I’m annoyed by my iPhone’s headphones, I presume because I bought a phone, that the headphones included are designed to give the user a hands free device while driving, the problem is I’m in England and I have a right hand drive car. The headphones are clearly marked L and R to ensure I have the right in the right ear and the left in the left ear but the control device hangs beneath the right ear. I suspect that the control is designed to be used by the gear lever hand in the US not the mainstay steering wheel hand? If it’s designed to favour the right handed, then shame on Apple, why not have the control in the middle to cover both left and right and both sides of the Atlantic? It’s picky I know, but these things bug me.

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