Encoding and Downloading FLV Media

One of the greatest features of Flash is the ability to encode video for online playback. For those that have not done this, the quick notes version:

  1. Create a blank Flash movie (somewhere near the dimensions of the source video)
  2. File | Import | Import to library…
  3. Select Windows | Library OR CTRL + L for those key-jockeys out there
  4. Select the imported movie from the library
  5. Right-click | Properties
  6. In the Embedded Video Properties dialog box, click Export.
  7. Save the movie for later use

Now, what if we want to be able to download an FLV movie from somewhere on the web. Lately I have been researching ways to leverage various online social media provider’s technologies (and uhm, assets.) In doing so, I rely heavily on Fiddler, an HTTP debugging proxy which logs all HTTP traffic between your computer and the Internet (that is all IE traffic.) By listening to the HTTP requests being sent from any embedded Flash application from your local computer, FLV assets from YouTube, Brightcove and others are easily retrievable. Although there are freely available plug-ins for Firefox and Internet Explorer that occasionally work, oftentimes it becomes necessary to dig in and get your hands dirty. Let’s dirty up…

  1. Download, install and run Fiddler 2 (you’ll need the latest version of .NET 2.0)
  2. Disable capture (F12)
  3. Launch IE (any recent flavor will due)
  4. Open up, or any media outlet that offers streaming video via Flash
  5. Return to Fiddler and click F12 to begin capture (this is important or you will miss the capture part of this mini-tutorial)
  6. Now, browse to a page that has the video you wish to “archive” and allow it to load and begin playing (I have found that sometimes Fiddler or the site will hang, you may need to start capture a few times to get the page to load up.)
  7. Return to Fiddler and click F12 again (we have captured all we need)

You should have a list of links that Fiddler has so graciously tracked for us. Now time to locate the actual session that contains the source movie.

  1. Click CTRL + F (find) and type video/flv in the text box
  2. Search | Requests and Headers
  3. Examine | Headers and Body
  4. Click Find Sessions

Now the final step, download the FLV source. This is the easy part. Fiddler gives us an easy copy context menu to handle this:

  1. Right-click the link session that the find from above highlighted.
  2. Copy | Just Url (CTRL + U)
  3. Paste the copied URL into your favorite download accelerator or just paste it directly into IE or Windows Explorer.

As long as you do not have the FLV extension associated to any other Windows application, you should be prompted with a Save/Open dialog box. Save the file down to your computer and you are done.

Granted, not a lot you can do directly with an FLV file. Perhaps I’ll put something together on how to actually use the FLV source at a later day.

Feedback welcome.

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