Erik’s Brain

The reward of a thing well done...

FLV Bitrate Capped?

I’ve got this beautiful QuickTime movie I need to convert to an FLV so that I can embed it into the Flash timeline. The source movie is, like I said, beautiful. 500x500px, 2 seconds long, and a whopping 15.5MB. With a file size like that, you’d expect it to look good. Also, for what it’s worth, the clip has an alpha channel baked into it and was created in some sort of 3D program (Maya or 3DS Max, I think).

Problem is, the FLVs that Adobe Media Encoder is turning out look pretty much like crap.

So I thought I’d turn up the export settings “to eleven” across the board to increase the quality of the FLV it gives me. But it doesn’t work. In fact, once I get to a certain point, the file size (and quality) seems to be capped. Even with all of the settings turned up as high as possible, the biggest FLV I get is a puny 772KB. And, the weird thing is, even if I turn down the settings (to 5 across the board, for example), I still get the same 772KB FLV. As you’d expect, going from 15.5MB to 772KB leads to some substantial loss in quality.

What the hell is going on? What’s with this cap on quality? It seems pretty clear that the FLV encoder is saying “this quality is good enough for you and I refuse to make anything better.” Grrr… This would be fine if I didn’t need to encode the alpha channel and embed the FLV directly onto the timeline. But I do. And I seem to be stuck with these fairly low-quality FLVs.

Unless there is another method to get this sequence of frames from the QuickTime movie embedded into the Flash timeline. I guess I’ll look into that next.

A-ha! QuickTime Pro will let me export a clip as an image sequence. Perfect! And this actually solves another weird issue I was having (that I won’t get into here). But it does add a new problem: each PNG that’s part of the image sequence seems to be of a different gamma setting than the source QuickTime clip. So either there’s a setting I need to adjust when exporting or I’m going to have to batch process these PNGs in Photoshop.

So, the trick to fix the color issue is to open the files in PS and then Save for Web. That removes the color profile info that QT attaches to each PNG. I’m good to go now.