|Flix Pro 2.5, by Wildform,
Wildform Flix Pro 2.501 is a cross-platform tool which enables the user to encode video, audio and image files as Flash video. It outputs all types of Flash video: Wildform's new, high quality Flash MX video, the FLV video required to import MX video into Flash, the ubiquitous Flash 3-5 video, and Flix's one-of-a-kind vector video.
Price: Single - $149.
Also available as Flix Lite Flash Video Encoder ($49).
Wildform Flix Pro 2.501 is a Macintosh OS X package which converts movie clips into MX and FLV video, Flash 3-6 video, and Flix's vector video. Movie files may be encoded using any one of Flix's 21 presets ranging from 28K MX FLV Vid (8K Aud, 12K Vid) to 512K 3-5 Vector Vid (40K Aud, 452 Aud), or with Audio only, and Banner presets also. Customized encoding settings of an infinite variety may be configured and saved as presets. Each Flix Pro license includes $100 in video from the Wildform sVideo Library.
The Lite version lacks batch encoding, overlays, play controls, auto-preloader, Win and Mac projectors, file "stitching" and other automated swf controls.
The following SWF was encoded from a MOV file as a Flix Vector video. The vector output displays the possibilities for abstract work and animation.
Flix exports four types of Flash video:
The Flix download was 6.1 Mb. Installation was advertised as "Extremely Easy Wildform Flix 2.501 Pro Installer" but it took two emails to Flix support before Wildform updated the installer to handle OS X. The new installer finally did live up to its initial billing.
Once installed, it was a relatively easy process to encode a movie. Not being blessed with a digital input device, I resorted to a variety of "found" sources. The web provided a couple of AVIs which, once prompted for the minimal configuration settings (if a preset is not chosen or Vector is chosen as an export option), Flix began encoding. Depending upon the quality of the output (framerate, average image quality setting, VBR passes, output detail options and more), the size and quality of the input, encoding occurs in as liitle as 3 seconds for a 296 KB WAV file to 20 minutes for a 51.2 MB MOV file (a three-minute spot from a Nike's World Cup promtional disk. The sound file was reduced to 12 Kb and the movie to 2.6 MB.
The Flix Preferences menu item is grayed out but an "Options" dialog under the "View" menu offers the ability to set your preferences. One of the options is "Warm me if the SWF player will exceed 50 MB." I'd prefer to "warm" these GUI guys who don't pay attention to the HIG. The "Edit Presets" button insisted on invoking my expired copy of Macromedia Dreamweaver MX Preview Release rather than to open opening the presets file in a text editor as advertised. This would have allowed manual edit of the current presets. All options are selected by default. "Preset Folder", and "Output Folder" are two missing "preferences" that quickly come to mind.
Once selected, input
files may be played in the Flix player. The output file names are generated and Flix
appends a number to the output file name if an existing file is in danger of being
overwritten. Presets range from bandwidths of 28K to 512K, for Flash 3-5, MX/FLV
vector video as well as audio only. Alteration of any settings beyond the Vectorize
tab will automatically shift the preset to "Customized". These settings
may be saved as FLX (XML) files and recalled for future encodings. All of the original
file names are saved within these custom presets. Wildform has recognized that this
encoding technology has great application in the web advertising industry and has
dedicated 4 of its 21 presets to banners. Choosing "Export HTML" during
encoding creates an HTML page with the code to embed the SWF. A cut and paste of
the contents to another page is easily accomplished. "Export Email" creates
a text file with instructions for inserting in an Outlook Express message. The only
real editing necessary is the alteration of the source URL to your absolute location
of the newly encoded file. "Export 1st frame .jpg" while encoding creates
a JPEG file of the initial frame at the encoding settings. The File tab export options
for Mac Projector and Windows Projector allow the deployment of customized media
players for out-of-the-browser viewing.
The Vectorize tab allows the user to choose a number of encoding settings that will determine color options, outline, and amount and type of detail. Wildform notes that, especially in Vectorize, the preset default settings in the Vectorize Tab are only a starting point. Best results will require experimentation and careful adjustment of the settings. The characteristics of a specific source file will guide your settings and minor changes in any of these can have a profound effect on the output. Settings in other tabs may still hinder the success of a vectorization. You may preset the option to preview a frame from any point of a vectorize output prior to encoding.
statistics may be saved in a separate file or copied to the clipboard for pasting
into a log for comparison while searching for an appropriate setting.
Wildform's tutorials, downloads, examples and forums combined with the Flash community sites provide a welcome level of support. Under the heading "Maximizing Video Quality in Flix" are "How to Improve the quality of your Flix files" and "Creating the Best Quality Video for CD-ROMS and Desktops" basic tutorials. Advanced tutorials deal with pre-loaders (pieces of code that causes the Flash Player to load a specified percentage of your Flix encoded video prior to beginning playback ensuring smooth playback of larger videos for users with slower connections.) Smart Clips include the Wildform Flix Video Jukebox, Movie Locks and Wildform Load Banner Engine.
The on-line Flix User Guide contains a substantial section on quality and recommendations for video improvement using Flix and the Osprey video capture card which apparently does not have a Mac version. An example is shown below of the bitrate statistics for various connections.
List of Target Bitrates:
Typos ("Warm..." in "Options", "Apple Smoothing" in the Video Tab, "Remove all file" in "Batch Processing") detract from a decent application.
The error-handling is less than user-friendly: encoding errors while in the File tab point to settings in other tabs (e.g., SWF, Video) but user is left in the File tab. All of the missing configuration settings are not checked at a request to encode and thus a customized encoding may require a number of prompts for missing settings. Writeability of the output location is not verified before encoding commences.
Flix Pro occasionally hung while converting a 340 KB MOV file to Vector. Often the progress bar showed 0% after 10 minutes of processing.
The Wildform Flix -> About LAME Encoder... dialog box could not be dismissed and required a Force Quit.
Batch processing crashed the application on a couple of occasions. A -1012 and 0xA1 abend were encountered while encoding,
If you wish to try out Flix Pro, download from the Wildform Demos page.
General System Requirements