Pros: Easy-to-use tool for converting audio and video clips into Flash format.
Cons: erformance could be improved, and preview window should be larger and resizable.
Flash is used mainly for creating vector animations, but recent upgrades have put increasing emphasis on its ability to use video content within SWF files. With the arrival of Flash MX, Macromedia introduced a new ‘flash video’ format (FLV) specifically for that purpose. Flash video hasn’t taken off in a big way as yet, but Flix Pro could be the program that helps to popularize the format.
Flix Pro is an encoder program that concentrates exclusively on converting audio and video files into SWF or FLV formats. The main, new feature in this version is support for the FLV format, allowing you to convert existing video clips into FLV, and to convert FLV files into SWF format. You can ‘vectorize’ video clips – this feature converts video clips into animated vector graphics, producing an attractive cartoon effect.
The program is easy to use, and the interface has been tidied up in this version so that all the main features are easy to get at. The workspace is effectively a single large palette, with a series of tabs that allow you to open up different groups of settings. The program initially opens into File view, which allows you to select and preview your video clips. You select an input clip, and then specify a name and location for the converted output clip. There are some basic editing tools, such as the ability to trim the length of the clip, crop the image, or adjust brightness, contrast, hue, and saturation.
Once that’s done, you can click one of the other tabs to specify the settings for the various output formats. The Video tab allows you to adjust the frame rate and quality settings, and to specify the data rate when streaming the file. The SWF
tab includes options such as the ability to link the SWF file to a URL, so it opens a Web page when someone clicks on the animation. Flix Pro provides batch-processing capabilities, so you can convert multiple files automatically.
There’s only one real complaint – Flix Pro is a little slow. It took almost nine minutes to convert a one-minute MPEG file into FLV format, using a 2GHz Pentium 4 PC (the Mac version isn’t due for another couple of months, so we don’t know if that will be faster). Even so, Flix Pro will soon earn its keep if you need to add video content to your Flash projects.