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File type: FLV

What is FLV?

The FLV ("Flash Live Video") file extension represents Flash Video files. These files are primarily video files that you can find on popular video sites such as YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo! Video, metacafe and others.

If an FLV file is downloaded to a user's computer, the user must have a separate application capable of playing the file.

More on FLV from Wikipedia

Why can't I open FLV files?

In order to open FLV files, you must have a program installed on your computer that is capable of opening them. FileRatings can help you find an appropriate program.

FLV file Icon from Adobe Systems
Filename extension.flv, .f4v, .f4p, .f4a, .f4b
Internet media typevideo/x-flv, video/mp4, video/x-m4v, audio/mp4a-latm, video/3gpp, video/quicktime, audio/mp4
Developed byAdobe Systems (originally developed by >Macromedia)
Type of formatMedia container
Container forAudio, video, text, data

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Flash Video

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Flash Video is a container file format used to deliver video over the Internet using Adobe Flash Player (initially produced by Macromedia) versions 6–10. Flash Video content may also be embedded within SWF files. There are two different video file formats defined by Adobe Systems and supported in Adobe Flash Player: FLV and F4V. The audio and video data within FLV files are encoded in the same way as they are within SWF files. The latter F4V file format is based on the ISO base media file format and is supported starting with Flash Player 9 update 3.

The format has quickly established itself as the format of choice for embedded video on the web. Notable users of the Flash Video format include YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo! Video, metacafe,, and many other news providers.

The standards documentation for BBC Online deprecates the use of other formats previously in use on its sites such as RealVideo or WMV.

Though the Flash Video container format itself is published, most of the compression formats used with it are patented. Flash Video FLV files usually contain material encoded with codecs following the Sorenson Spark or VP6 video compression formats. The most recent public releases of Flash Player also support H.264 video and HE-AAC audio.

Flash Video is viewable on most operating systems, via the widely available Adobe Flash Player and web browser plugin, or one of several third-party programs.

Format details

File formats

Support for video in SWF file format was added in Flash Player 6, released in 2002. In 2003, Flash Player 7 added direct support for FLV file format. Because of restrictions in the FLV file format, Adobe Systems has created in 2007 new file formats listed below, based on the ISO base media file format (MPEG-4 Part 12). Flash Player does not check the extension of the file, but rather looks inside the file to detect which format it is. The new file formats are completely different from the older FLV file format. For example, F4V does not support Screen video, Sorenson Spark, VP6 video compression formats and ADPCM, Nellymoser audio compression formats. Authors of Flash Player strongly encourage everyone to embrace the new standard file format F4V (ISO base media file format). There are functional limits with the FLV structure when streaming H.264 or AAC which could not be overcome without a redesign of the file format. This is one reason why Adobe Systems is moving away from the traditional FLV file structure.

File ExtensionMime TypeDescription
.f4vvideo/mp4Video for Adobe Flash Player
.f4pvideo/mp4Protected Video for Adobe Flash Player
.f4aaudio/mp4Audio for Adobe Flash Player
.f4baudio/mp4Audio Book for Adobe Flash Player

SWF files published for Flash Player 6 and later versions are able to exchange audio, video, and data over RTMP connections with the Adobe Flash Media Server. One way to feed data to Flash Media Server is from files in the FLV file format. Starting with SWF files created for Flash Player 7, Flash Player can play FLV file format directly (MIME type video/x-flv). Starting with SWF files created for Flash Player 9 Update 3, Flash Player can also play the new F4V file format.

Codec support

Supported media types in FLV file format:

  • Video: On2 VP6, Sorenson Spark (Sorenson H.263), Screen video, >H.264
  • Audio: MP3, ADPCM, Linear PCM, Nellymoser, Speex, AAC, G.711 (reserved for internal use)

Supported media types in F4V file format:

  • Video: H.264
  • Images (still frame of video data): GIF, PNG, JPEG
  • Audio: AAC, HE-AAC, MP3
Flash Player versionReleasedFile formatVideo compression formatsAudio compression formats
62002SWFSorenson Spark, Screen videoMP3, ADPCM, Nellymoser
72003SWF, FLVSorenson Spark, Screen videoMP3, ADPCM, Nellymoser
82005SWF, FLVOn2 VP6, Sorenson Spark, Screen video, Screen video 2MP3, ADPCM, Nellymoser, FLVOn2 VP6, Sorenson Spark, Screen video, Screen video 2, H.264MP3, ADPCM, Nellymoser, AAC
SWF, F4V, ISO base media file formatH.264AAC, MP3
102008SWF, FLVOn2 VP6, Sorenson Spark, Screen video, Screen video 2, H.264MP3, ADPCM, Nellymoser, Speex, AAC
SWF, F4V, ISO base media file formatH.264AAC, MP3
  • Use of the H.264 and AAC compression formats in the FLV file format has some limitations and authors of Flash Player strongly encourage everyone to embrace the new standard F4V file format.

Delivery options

Flash Video files can be delivered in several different ways:

  • As a standalone .FLV file. Although Flash Video files are normally delivered using a Flash player for control, the .FLV file itself is only playable with an FLV player. There are several third party players available.
  • Embedded in an SWF file using the Flash authoring tool (supported in Flash Player 6 and later). The entire file must be transferred before playback can begin. Changing the video requires rebuilding the SWF file.
  • Progressive download via HTTP (supported in Flash Player 7 and later). This method uses ActionScript to include an externally hosted Flash Video file client-side for playback. Progressive download has several advantages, including buffering, use of generic HTTP servers, and the ability to reuse a single SWF player for multiple Flash Video sources. Flash Player 8 includes support for random access within video files using the partial download functionality of HTTP, sometimes this is referred to as streaming. However, unlike streaming using RTMP, HTTP "streaming" does not support real-time broadcasting. Streaming via HTTP requires a custom player and the injection of specific Flash Video metadata containing the exact starting position in bytes and timecode of each keyframe. Using this specific information, a custom Flash Video player can request any part of the Flash Video file starting at a specified keyframe. For example, Google Video, Youtube, and BitGravity support progressive downloading and can seek to any part of the video before buffering is complete. The server-side part of this "HTTP pseudo-streaming" method is fairly simple to implement, for example in PHP, as an Apache module, or using lighttpd.
  • Streamed via RTMP to the Flash Player using the Flash Media Server (formerly called Flash Communication Server), VCS, ElectroServer, Wowza Pro, WebORB for .NET, WebORB for Java or the open source Red5 server. As of April 2008, there are stream recorders available for this protocol, re-encoding screencast software excluded.

Flash video recording

It is possible to record online flash videos using Stream recorders and Screen video capture software. The former gives lossless results, while the latter allows to record any video even when anti-leeching measures are used.

Use one of the following applications to open FLV files:

  1. DownloadSysPlayer

    License: Free
    Operating system: Win 7, Vista , XP, Server 2008, Server 2003, Win 2000

  2. InfoVLC Media Player
  3. InfoAdobe Flash Player
  4. InfoAdobe Media Player
  5. InfoMedia Player Classic
  6. InfoMPlayer
  7. InfoRealPlayer