Seeking critique of Flash video conversion idea

Hello all. If you’re not on the CSS forum, I am in the process of learning HTML, XHTML, CSS and JavaScript. My goal is to develop applications for the Palm Pre Plus. I have absolutely no knowledge of Flash, other than you need a plug-in for it to view web pages.

As you may or may not be aware, Flash is not yet supported on the smartphones. Adobe has been promising Flash for the Pre for a while, but it keeps getting delayed.

I have searched the web for information on converting Flash (at least the videos, if not the animation) to either HTML5 or h.264. I have come across a few products and a few ideas, but every one involves either a website owner converting their specific videos or a user downloading and converting the videos on their computer and then transferring them to their phone.

I would like to see, and maybe develop myself, a mobile app where any user of a Pre could visit a site with a Flash video (and maybe an animation), and the Flash would automatically be converted to either HTML5 or h.264, without the website owner needing to act, and without the user needing to get on their computer. In other words, conversion would happen on the fly.

When I did my search, I came across one site that said to convert a FLV file to HTML5, you simply needed to change the .flv tag to another tag (can’t remember the specific suffix). It seems to me that a properly developed app could automatically load the flv video into memory, either on the phone or, if necessary, a server somewhere, change the extension, then put the video with the new extension on the phone, either in the browser or in a new window.

Now, the skeptic in me says that if it were this easy, someone would have done it by now. So I can accept that this may not work. What I need to know is why it won’t work, specifically. Otherwise, this issue is going to drive me nuts.

Since I don’t know Flash, I’m hoping one or more of you could walk me through an explanation of the problems/obstacles of such an approach.


What you’re talking about would be technically complex e.g just looking at the video part:

  • Parse html->find swfs
  • either decompile swf or monitor external connections to find external video files loaded
  • analyse these to find if they need conversion (a lot of ‘flash video’ is already h.264 so might not need conversion if it’s already using the base profile, but main/high h.264, on2 vp6, sorenson h.263 clips would
  • these clips are already heavily lossily compressed so you’d get substantial further video quality unless you rescale, which is likely an idea for something that would be shown on a small screen

Video is the easiest case - vector animation, or interactive swfs would be a lot more complex. Where as simple vector animations already have a possibility (have a look at the ‘gordon’ javascript project) I think conversion of interactive swfs would be near impossible without major resources.