Hello everyone, this question is also posted in the Adobe Video forum.
The headline for this could be: "College educator needs a tool for converting batches of digital video files to FLV for use in Adobe Presenter or other streaming solutions."
The college educator is me, or more precisely, an instructional designer who tries to find solutions to technological problems. My specialty is video development and deployment (Premiere Pro; Premiere Elements; Adobe Connect Pro and Presenter; Flash Media Server v. 2.*, Flash CS3, etc.).
Description of the problem: The utilization of video by college professors is exploding at my venue: the University of St. Francis, a prominent online learning provider in Illinois and the Midwest. The explosion is significantly due to the advent of "tapeless" video, via Sony Handycams, Aiptek camcorders, and others. But the current state of the "prosumer" industry is that of a grotesquely uneven playing field of different codecs, and the inability of some computers to handle different formats (e.g. MPG2, MOD, ASF, MOV, VOB-- many of which are different flavors of each other). Using digital video versus mini-DV tape is advantageous because of the miniscule time it takes to download a video file to a workstation. I can take an hour of digital video and import it into the computer in a matter of minutes, on a bread-and-butter Windows XP machine.
These imported video files (for discussion, I'll refer to these as MPG2), are fine for local use on the machine. An instructor brings a student over to watch an MPG2 of his speech to class for critique purposes. But for deployment-- to the web, to email, or to just the student's thumb drive-- the files are way too big. Conversion to a more manageable format: WMV or FLV is required. FLV is preferred because of the ease with which in can be imported into a Powerpoint/Adobe Presentation (USF is a heavy user of Adobe Presenter).
Adobe offers many solutions free of charge. The Adobe Media Player is one example. What is needed is a tool for instructors to batch convert video files of many different and competing formats to FLV. Currently, having trialed several freewares, the closest approximation to the ideal converter in my own opinion is "Prism" downloadable from TUCOWS and other sites. But like many freewares, "Prism" is sometimes a gateway, during installation, to other exotic softwares that the user does not need.
Adobe Flash comes packed with a wonderful tool-- the media encoder-- which allows batch processing of files to FLV. But you apparently cannot get this encoder without purchasing Flash. It's a wonderful software, but it's ease of use and expense is well beyond the reach of the average faculty member. Video-- itself-- is within the reach of the faculty member due to the proliferation of cheap camcorders and the availability of video editing programs that come bundled with the machine (e.g. Windows Movie Maker).
But the batch conversion solution is needed to take full advantage of the promise of digital video.
My question and suggestion: Can Adobe make its Flash Media Encoder available as a standalone freeware? Can it be versatile enough to handle many different kinds of codecs, or be able to integrate new codecs (different flavors of MPG2 for instance)?
I will probably post this question in a Flash forum as well as I think this issue crosses over.