Over the last few years I’ve seen the expansion of video in eLearning really take off. The cost of entry and time it takes to create video has dropped dramatically, and the requests to have video in courses is rising due to the “YouTube” generation. To get started with streaming video in Captivate you first need to decide if streaming is the way to go. You have two choices when it comes to video in Captivate 5:
Streaming Video: The video is requested by the user and played back in Captivate. The video IS NOT stored locally. Once is plays the video is flushed from memory. This allows you to jump around in the video without the entire video loading, but you cannot “scrub” the video. This is great for video longer than one to two minutes in length, and for video that is streamed live.
Progressive Video: The video plays back in Captivate and IS stored locally. This allows the user to “scrub” the video, but if you want to jump ahead that portion must be loaded into memory. Typically used for short videos that are less than one minute.
There are other factors that come into play when deciding which way to go:
- Number of concurrent users
- Physical size of the compressed video
- Type of streaming server and video file type - FLV or F4V
- Location of video - hosted service, or behind a corporate firewall
- Intellectual property and security
These topics are beyond the scope of this article. If you are really serious about delivering video content you will either need to do some investigating on your own, or bring in a consultant who can walk you through the pros and cons of each delivery method.
Here are the steps to get started with streaming video in Captivate 5:
- Set up a streaming server account
- Compress your video
- Upload your video to your account and test
- Place the video in Captivate
- Test, test, test (I can’t say it enough.)
Let’s go through each of the steps:
1. Set Up a Streaming Server
There are many streaming server companies in the marketplace today and it changes every 3-6 months. I decided to give a company called NetroMedia a try. They offer a free trial, and you have the ability to expand your service easily.
- Go to the NetroMedia website and sign up for a free trial.
2. Compress Your Video
There are many compression programs on the marketplace that will take your uncompressed video and convert it into .FLV or .F4V Flash video files. I’m going to use the Adobe Media Encoder CS5 that is part of the Adobe eLearning Suite.
Here are some tips:
- For streaming video it is recommended that you use a Constant Bit Rate (CBR) encoded video.
- Check the bit Rate. Odds are you will need to try something between 150-750K per second depending upon the bandwidth of the user. Give yourself sometime to test multiple file sizes.
Steps for Encoding:
- In Adobe Media Encoder CS5, click the Add… button.
- Select a video to be encoded.
- In the Preset drop down, choose FLV for targeting Flash Player 8.0 or higher or F4V for Flash player 9.0.r115 or higher. Choose a Web Medium setting to start out with.
- Click the Settings… button.
- In the Video tab under the video summary choose the following settings:
- Frame Rate [fps]: 15 fps
- Bitrate Encoding: CBR
- Encoding Passes: Two
- Bitrate [kbps]: 150k (Slow connections) to 750k+ (Fast Connections)
There are some other settings which will change the quality of your video like Key Frame Distance, but this is good for now.
- Click the OK button.
- Click the Start Queue button.
Your FLV/F4V file will be encoded and is now ready to be uploaded to the streaming server.
3. Upload Your Video and Test
- Once the account is created - upload your file via FTP. In the NetroMedia account, there is a FTP Quick Link that you can use to upload a file. Also, there are instructions on the hosting site on how to use FTP.
- Make a note of your URI location. This is a RTMP (Real Time Messaging Protocol) link. You will need this use this location in Captivate.
Test the link to verify that the stream is working.
- In NetroMedia you can click on the Upload Your Files Button.
- Click on your link to test the file. If you see your video - you are ready to rock!
5. Place the Video in Captivate
You have the ability to choose either object based video or Slide based video in Captivate 5. I’m going to use a video object that can only be seen on one slide in Captivate 5. You can use this same technique for Slide based video which allows you to span your video over multiple slides in Captivate.
Note: For some odd reason when using Slide video you have to start with a local video file and then change the video type to Streaming in the Video Management dialog box. (Video > Video Management...).
- Create a New Blank file in Captivate 5. File > New Project > Blank Project…
- In the New Blank Project dialog box - pick a dimension that is going to be larger than your video dimensions and click the OK button.
- Select Insert > FLV or F4V File…
- In the Import Video window, choose Already deployed to a web server, Flash Video Streaming Service, or Flash Media Server.
- Paste the URL of your file in the URL text field, and click the OK button.
WARNING: You must verify the file extension on the video file has bee removed for streaming to work! Also, there will be NO trailing forward slash on the video’s URL.
- Select the video object in the Captivate 5 workspace and choose the Properties Panel.
- In the General section, verify the following:
- Auto Play and Auto Rewind are checked
- Buffer time is set to 10-15 seconds
- You have some skin to give the user control of the video. (This is optional, but I always like to give the user some control over the media. )
Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to test. There are a lot of variables involved with this process, and you may need to check your work. Don’t forget to remove the .FLV or .F4V file extension!
- From the Application Menu select the Preview icon >In A Web Browser or click F12 to preview your file.
You should have video streaming success!
Here are some links that will give you additional information on this process:
Adobe’s Encoding Video Page - Detailed articles on encoding video and the difference between FLV and F4V (H.264) video files.
A Beginner’s Guide to Flash Video - Excellent chapter from a book by Robert Reinhardt.