Captivate 5 swf, web objects & streaming

Oct 20, 2011

Hi guys,

I'm not a wiz when it comes to streaming and the intricacies of flash, so bear with me on this one...

I'm developing a presenter '09 based course that contains a number of Captivate 5.5 videos at various points throughout the course.  At the moment I'm in the trial stage so just working with the first Cp file.

I have read the forum posts about the AS2 (Articulate) and AS3 (Captivate) issue and I have added the captivate swf to presenter as a web object.  This is working pretty well off my HDD.

The trouble is that I have now uploaded the published content to an online hosting service and played it from there.  The content articulate content runs perfectly, but the Cp swf takes ages to play.  Admittedly the file is 12MB, so it's not small, but it seems to be downloading the whole thing before playing it (fast connection speeds are a luxury here in South Africa, which means that you can wait a while)

Obviously this isn't ideal and I'd prefer to not have to compromise on quality.  Instead, I'd like to have to files download progressively or stream.  I also need it to be interactive though, as it has it's own Table of Contents, so from my rudimentary understanding, this rules out the flv route.

Is there anyone out there who can tell me where I'm going wrong or what I need to do to make this work (in as simple terms as possible)?  Perhaps you can point me in the right direction?

I'm aware of Flash Streaming Servers, but not entirely sure whether a) it's necessary to go this route for hosting the Cp content or b) what it really entails.

- Paul

10 Replies
David Steffek

Could you possibly use a pre-loader, downloading all of the swf's at the beginning of the course so that when they get to the page with a swf it immediately starts playing?

Granted all this is doing is shifting the waiting time from separate places in the course to one long wait at the beginning, but I think it's usually more understandable by the user to have to wait at the beginning of the course than repeatedly interrupting the flow throughout the course.

But then if combining everything in the pre-loader means waiting even a couple of minutes then you could lose them right from the beginning (unless in your area your learners are accustomed to such delays).

Paul Smit

Phil, David, thanks for the responses.

I'm wary of blurring the support lines between Articulate and Captivate, so if you think I need to jump onto the Captivate forums for this one then please feel free to tell me (although I shiver at the thought).

The mp4 / flv route:

Right, so streaming is out, but I might end up sacrificing the second menu within the Captivate video and publishing to mp4 (or would it be better to go to flv?).  If I go that route what would you recommend for integrating the file with Presenter 09 and possibly streaming them? 

There are a few navigational restrictions here though:

I'd like the users to be able to still pause, play, rewind, mute and generally jump using a seekbar while in no sidebar mode.  I'm trying to keep the video as close to full screen as possible so that the on screen details aren't lost.  What I like about the Captivate swf is the ability to have a thin, non-intrusive playbar at the bottom of the video.  I'd prefer not to lose that.

If I do take this route, I will probably also split up the videos (since the Cp menu functionality will be lost), which will help with download times.

The swf route:

If I stick to swf though, is there a way to get the video to start playing while the rest downloads?  This might depend on how it is published in Cp and I'm researching the options there too, but any thoughts will be appreciated. 

David your suggestion for using a pre-loader to download everything right at the start of the course is a good one, but unfortunately won't work in this case mainly because there are a lot of videos in this one course and also because I'm not too sure how I would put that together.

I should state however, that I have published with one of Captivate's pre-loaders for this particular video.  Would that affect how the video downloads and plays? i.e would it cause the long wait while everything downloads?

Thanks again for the help!

Phil Mayor

Hi Paul, have you though about putting the videos directly into an engage interaction, this way you can get player controls and a seekbar, also the user can select which they would like to view.  You could also get the videos to play the full slide size

I you insert them directly into articulate you will not get player controls.

I would publish to flv or mp4 ideally both should progressively download, the mp4 may need you to move the atom moov info.

I think becuase it needs to be a web object the only way to speed up the download is to reduce the file size,


Paul Smit

Hi Phil,

Thanks again for getting back to me.  The Engage suggestion is a good one and it would be a decent compromise between having the built in menu and separating each video file.  I have however, managed to get my way with the Captivate file so that I'm able to publish to swf with the menu, without reducing the file size and without splitting it up into smaller pieces.

The solution made me kick myself, and hopefully this little explanation will save others from similar self-inflicted beatings...I put a preloader onto the front of the Cp video when publishing.  Embarrassingly, I must confess that I have until recently thought that the function of a preloader is to keep learners entertained (watching the pretty circle spin) and to show them that the course hasn't actually crashed.  As it turns out, the preloader also determines how much of the video will download before it starts playing.  Basically, it sets up the conditions for a progressive download of the swf file.

When you put a pre-loader onto a Captivate file, the default setting requires 100% of the file to download before it starts playing.  The good news is that you can change this to anything you want (e.g. 10%).  Obviously, you'll want to consider the users' bandwidth restrictions when setting this.  You need to give the download enough of a head start to avoid continuous pauses in the video, which is pretty much what David's suggestion also aims to do.

Wow, okay, long explanation, but hopefully this will help all those using both Articulate and Captivate.

Paul Smit

Hi Kirsten

I'm working with Cp5.5, but hopefully this is possible with earlier versions.  With your project open go to Edit > Preferences.  In the Preferences window go to Start and End under Project and make sure that the Preloader is selected.  Then, browse for the preloader of your dreams and change the percentage to whatever you think will work best.  5 or 10% is probably good.

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