This morning saw another new development in the Flash codec story.

On2 has announced support in their Flix encoder (and even more importantly, in Flash 9/Moviestar) for a new codec profile: VP6-S.

From the press release:

The new VP6-S video profile offers greater simplicity in the encoding and playback of high-resolution, full-screen video, thereby allowing high definition video to be streamed and played back within processor power limitations posed by the majority of personal computers. On2 will ship its flagship Flix Engine upgrade for VP6-S mid-October, concurrently with the Adobe Flash Player 9 update. The remaining Flix product line with VP6-S upgrades will ship during the fourth quarter of 2007.

The target of this new codec profile is high-definition/high bitrate video on machines with slower processors. The original codec, VP6-E is still the recommended format for typical video with bitrates at or below 500Kbps.
Flash video used to be simple… ‘Spark or VP6?’ No longer! Encoding is going to be a bigger and bigger issue with Flash video, as we get more choices, optimized for different deployments. This is great news, though, for audiences with slower, older machines. The Flash video experience is getting better and better for everyone!

{grumble}Now I need to go update my MAX presentation on encoding for next week, again…{/grumble}

!! UPDATE !!

I just spoke with Mike Savello of On2 about the details of this announcement.

Apparently, this new profile has been part of the Moviestar release from day one, but was overshadowed by the announcement of H.264 support.

According to Mike, where the new codec shines is in high datarate video / slow CPU environments. The VP6-S profile is much less complex than the standard VP6-E currently in the Flash Player 8. The videos do not increase in filesize, nor do they decrease noticeably in quality, but they consume less CPU overhead on playback. On2 will have more specific benchmark data at their booth next week at MAX in Chicago.