Commentary

Flash Point

There has been no single recent initiative in rich media more important than the implementation and delivery of video in online ads. Considering the growth of rich media over the past few years and its emergence as an advertising success story, that becomes a fairly major statement. Yet, to date there have been significant limitations to both the quality of the video and what could be done with it. Now however, it looks like quite a few of those limitations are disappearing, and quickly. The creators of video rich media ads are the modern Niépces (one of the inventors of photography), they've just been handed a camera obscura, and this time around it's called Flash 8.

Every time a new version of Flash is released, there is the typical fanfare about how it will change the world and make everyone's life as easy as the electric refrigerator once did. In practice, it usually takes a while working with the new release to figure out how to get the most out of it. However, in this case, the video capabilities of Flash 8 are so significantly enhanced that we'll be seeing the benefits immediately, in executions that truly have no comparison to what we've seen done with video online so far.

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As many now know, Macromedia chose On2 Technologies for the compression codec in Flash 8, drastically upping the ante in the clarity game. Video traditionally being a broadcast medium, clarity is often one of the largest measures of success for its translation online--the clearer the better. Flash 8 allows the implementation of drastically clearer video at little or no extra cost to the end user's experience, one of the largest instant payoffs.

In addition, for the first time video with true transparency (such as that shot in front of a green screen) can be implemented and manipulated. This holds the most exciting promise in the possibility of shooting original video for an online ad instead of the typical repurposing of an existing broadcast or DVD based video. That allows the goal of the creative to be truly creating a unique online experience, something we've hardly ever seen at all with video ads.

Coupling these enhanced features to the creativity of the community using the tools might just give us a few truly innovative executions, including a potential few that may live up to the hype we've all been hearing about for so long.

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