Using Flash to Edit Videos for YouTube

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Free Tutorial - Using Flash to Edit Videos for YouTube


Free Flash Tutorial



Flash can be used to edit your videos before uploading to YouTube or other sites such as FaceBook etc. In this tutorial you will learn how to take one or several digital files from your camera, edit them in Flash, including the sound. While you are in Flash you have the option to add animation or text. You then re-export ready to upload to YouTube.

Click by Click: If you would like to view this tutorial without all the notes: Click by Click

Step One: The Camera


YouTube is not high quality you can use any camera that has a digital video facility. I am going to use my standard stills camera. This, like many modern cameras, has an option to record video.

Example: Download Sample Videos  Int 103


My Digital Camera

  1. Turn your camera on to Movie Mode:

    My Movie Mode Switch.
  2. Optional: Your camera may have settings that you can adjust. If you want you can set your camera so that the film image matches the size of the YouTube image: 480 X 360. This is quite a small setting and you will find it reduces your file sizes considerably.

  3. Take several short: Films Clips.
  4. Example: Download Sample Videos  Int 103

    Note: At present YouTube will only let you upload films that are less than 10 minutes long. So don't make a feature film. Keep it short. Also film files tend to be very big and your computer may take forever to import, export and edit the films. For the point of learning 5 or 10 second clips are best.

    I took a series of very short clips of my silly dog:

  5. Copy your film clips into a folder on your computer: Camera to Computer
  6. Open the folder on the computer and: View the Clips
  7. Note: Normally you can just double click on the files and they will open in the default Video Viewer.

    My Clips open in Quick Time.

    Decide which clips you want to use and in which order you want to view them. You do not need to use a complete clips, you can use a sections or several sections of one or more clips.

  8. If you want create a simple: Story Board
  9. Note: Planning your movie is important because the file sizes tend to be very large and it takes the computer a lot of processing power to do even simple edits. So the more thinking you can do before you get to Flash the better.

  10. Copy the files that you want to use to a new: Editing Folder
  11. If you wish, rename the files so that they are ordered correctly: Rename

    Note: The length of my little movie clips listed below are between 3 seconds and 6 seconds, yet the file sizes are very large. My camera (on the default setting) stores films at 2MB per second! So a 60 second film would be 120MB and 10 minute film would be over a Gigabyte!

    My renamed Files copied to a new folder.

    My files are AVI format. You may find that your files are a different file format. It does not matter what format your camera saves in. The dimensions of my movie clips is 640 x 480 pixels. This is bigger than the default YouTube size and at this stage is not important.

Step Two: Compressing the Movie Clips

I find that if I try and import the above movie clips into Flash CS3 it crashes!! And they are only a few seconds long! I find that Flash 8 is actually more stable but it can take a very long time to import a Movie. For example it could take half an hour to import a video that is a couple of minutes long. You can see that that is not very practical!

Note: This tutorial only covers Flash CS3 & 8.

The answer is to reduce the size of the file before you open Flash. Remember you are putting the Movie online and it is to be viewed on a small screen so quality is not important. It is size that matters - not quality (where have I heard that before?) and in this case small is beautiful.

In order to achieve this I use a program called Ultra Video To Flash Converter. I downloaded this for free from Tucows. The version that I have is free to use as long as you use it to convert one file at a time (if you want to do bulk conversion there is a small licence fee). I am sure there are other similar programs. If you already have a video converter use that.

  1. Download: Ultra Video To Flash Converter (or similar)
  2. Alternative: If you wish go to Tucows or and search.

  3. Install the: Video Converter
  4. Open the: Ultra Video To Flash Converter
  5. The first thing to do is to set the default options.

  6. Click: Options
  7. Go to the Output Directory and browser to your: Video Edit Folder
  8. Click: OK
  9. Note: The Output Directory (save location) can be the same as the source folder.

  10. For Output File Format select: MPG
  11. Note: My originals are AVG so it is easy to see the new files as the names are now: Original-File-Name.MPG
    If yours originals were already MPGs your new files will be named something like this: Original-File-Name_1.MPG

  12. For width type: 480
  13. For height type: 360
  14. Deselect or remove the tick from: Keep Original Size
  15. Set the Video frame rate to: 24
  16. Set the Video bit rate the: 768
  17. Audio Sample rate(kHz) to: 22050
  18. Audio bit rate to: 16

    Important Note: I have set the sound quality very low and the video quality to medium. Once you have tested your Movie. if you find that either the video or sound is not too low, come back to these options and reset the Video and or Audio bit rate up or down as appropriate to your needs.

  19. When you have finished click: Batch

Step Three: Reducing the File Sizes

Now it is time to put the Flash Video Converter into action and reduce the files sizes right down.

  1. If you are not in the Batch Section click: Batch
  2. Click on: Add File
  3. Browse till you find your first film file: 01 Dog File.AVI (or whatever yours is called)
  4. Select the file and click: Open
  5. The File will appear in the Window:

  6. In the Window: Select the File
  7. Click on: Convert
  8. Note: The program will ask you to register and pay a small licence fee. If you wish to please feel free to do so but you don't have to as you are entitled to use the program for single files transfers for free.

  9. When asked to register click: No

  10. Select: No

    Note: It should just take a few moments to convert the file. If you have a look in your Video Edit Folder you will see a new file. You will see that the new MPG file is only 768KB. That is a remarkable reduction in file size!! If you want to compromise on quality you can squash it even more by setting your Video Bit Rate even lower.

    Tip: In your Video Edit Folder double click on the new file to view the new Movie. If you find that the quality is too low (or too high) go back to the options section of the Flash Video Converter and change the video and or audio bit rate values and try again. Repeat until you are happy with the sound and visual quality.

  11. To clear the file select: Clear List
  12. Note: Clearing the list does not delete the file only remove it from the list in the program.

  13. Repeat until you have finished all the files: Repeat

All the videos have been converted.

Step Four: Setting up the Flash File

  1. Open either: Flash 8 or Flash CS3
  2. Open a New Flash Document: File > New (Ctrl N)
  3. If the General Tab is not selected, select it: General Tab
  4. Select Flash Document: Flash File Flash File (ActionScript 2.0)
  5. Note: You can use ActionScript 3.0 if you want.

  6. Click: OK
  7. Go to: Modify > Document (Ctrl J)
  8. For the width dimensions set: 480
  9. For the height dimensions set: 360
  10. For the Frame rate set: 24
  11. Note: In the options from the Flash Video Converter program we set the frame rate to 24 frames per second. If you do not set Flash to match but leave it at the default 12 then you get a Movie which plays in slow motion. In you increase it above 24 your Movie will play at high speed. For example I created this movie in slow motion: Fluorescent Body Art in Slow Motion (half speed).

  12. Click: OK
  13. Save your file: File > Save (Ctrl S)

    Note: Flash files with embedded videos can get very big and may cause the program to become unstable and crash. Although using the method described here reduces the risk of this, I still recommend regular saving.

Step Five: Setting up the Timeline

You will need two layers in the Timeline, one is for the video image and the other is for the sound.

  1. If the Timeline is closed, open it: Window > Timeline (Ctrl Alt T)
  2. Double Click on Layer 1 and re-name it: Video
  3. Create a new Layer by clicking on: Insert Layer (or Insert > Timeline > Layer)
  4. Double Click on Layer 1 and re-name it: Audio
  5. On the Video Layer select: Frame 1

    Frame 1 on the Video Layer is selected.

Step Six: Importing the Video

Now that the video file size have been reduced importing the videos should be easy.

  1. Go to: File > Import > Import Video ...
  2. The Import Video box appears:

  3. Select: On your computer
  4. Browse to your file: Browse
  5. Select the small MPG file: Select Movie
  6. Note: If you cannot tell which is the small file open select the 'Details' view (in Windows) by clicking on the View Menu Icon:

    You can then see the files sizes in the Size column:

  7. Click on: Open

  8. You can then see you file in the Flash dialogue box.

  9. Click: Next

  10. Select: Embed video in SWF and play in timeline
  11. Click: Next

  12. For Symbol Type select: Embedded video
  13. For Audio track Select: Separate
  14. Note: This audio track option is very important. It means that you are going to split the file into two, the video file and the audio file. You cannot upload Flash Movies to YouTube so you will need to convert the file back into an Mpeg or Avi file and there seems to be a bug with Flash (or some other obscure reason) that causes embedded videos to drop the sound track when exporting, leaving you with only visuals. This 'separation' method resolves this sound loss problem.

  15. Select: Place instance on stage
  16. Select: Expand timeline if needed
  17. Select: Edit the video first (you could select: Embed the entire video)
  18. Click: Next
  19. In this section you have the option to edit the clip.

    Use the Playhead to preview a portion of the clip.
    Use the two triangles to trim the clip.
    Important: Use the plus to add the clips. Otherwise the edit will not be imported to Flash!
  20. When you have finished editing click: Next

  21. In the next section you select the quality: Flash 8 - Medium Quality (400kbps)
  22. Note: The quality of the movie is already medium to low so you will not gain anything by selecting a high quality settings. Higher settings will mean larger Flash files so keep things low, it will save time when Flash is importing.

  23. When you have finished with the quality settings click: Next
  24. Flash will then tell you that it is going to import:

  25. Click: Finish
  26. Note: It may take sometime for Flash to import the video. This will depend on the speed of you computer, the length of the movie and the quality settings. Be prepared to wait!

    You may find that the Movie is not located on the correct location on the stage. It maybe offset to one side instead of being located on correctly.

  27. If the Property Inspector is closed, open it: Window > Properties > Properties (Ctrl F3)
  28. Select your: Movie
  29. In the Property Inspector set the X: 0
  30. In the Property Inspector set the Y: 0

    Note: The Movie should now be sitting correctly right on top of the stage and not off set to one side.

Step Seven: Adding the Sound to the Timeline

Although the video will have automatically gone into the Timeline the sound does not!

The video is visible in the Video Layer.

You will find that the sound is in the Library. If you want to check press F11 to open the Library.

The sound file is visible in the Library.

Note: You don't need the Library open so if you want close it: F11

  1. On the Audio Layer select: Frame 1

  2. Frame 1 of the Audio layer is selected.

  3. If the Property Inspector is closed, open it: Window > Properties > Properties (Ctrl F3)
  4. For Sound select your: Audio File

  5. For Sync make sure it reads: Stream, Repeat, 1

  6. The sync setting is set to Stream.

    Note: If you find that your video and sound get out of sync it is probably because this setting is incorrect.

    Note: Have a look in the Timeline. You will see that the sound file is now embedded in Frame 1. You can tell this from the small black line that appears in the frame: (subtle or what!!)

    If you play your Movie you will still not actually hear any sound!! That's because the sound only exists in frame 1 and not through the whole timeline:

    Sound is only in Frame 1.

    The answer is to extend the frames to the same place in the Timeline as the Video Layer.

  7. Scroll till you can see the: End Video Frame

  8. End of the Video Timeline.

  9. Select the frame directly above the last frame in the Video: Last Frame

  10. Select just above the last frame of the Video Layer.

  11. Go to: Insert > Timeline > Frame (F5)

    The Audio will now be visible:

    The squiggly line represents the audio track.

  12. Save your Movie: File > Save

Step Eight: Importing Additional Videos into Flash

There is one thing that you need to do before importing your next video clip. That is to prepare the Timeline. You need to make sure that there are Blank Keyframes in both the video and audio layers.

  1. Select the next blank: Audio Frame

  2. Select the next blank Frame in the Audio Layer.

  3. Go to: Insert > Timeline > Blank Keyframe (F7)
  4. Select the next blank: Video Frame

  5. Select the next blank Frame in the Video Layer.

  6. Go to: Insert > Timeline > Blank Keyframe (F7)

You are now ready to import the next video clip, which is of course just a repeat of what you did in the previous section: Step Seven

Note: Flash does not appear to remember the Import Video settings that you select, so each time you import a video you will need to reselect the various options as described in Step Seven of this tutorial.

The most important of these settings is to ensure the following:

Step Nine: Flash Additions

Once you have finished importing your video clips it is easy to add additional MP3 sound tracks, captions, animation, photos, logos or other features available in Flash. I am not going to describe how to do this as these types of effects are detailed in many of the other tutorials on this site. But I would suggest that you lock the two layers that you have already created and do additional effects in new layers.

One other point to remember is that on sites like youTube you cannot upload the Flash Movie as you normally would on your own site - you need to convert the file back to a Movie. So there is no point in adding anything interactive, like buttons or forms as these will not work.

Step Ten: Exporting the Movie from Flash

The next step is to get the Movie out of Flash. Ordinarily you would do this by publishing the Flash Movie as described in other tutorials on this site. But in this case this will not work. Website's like YouTube and Facebook will not let you upload Flash Movies (swf files). You can only upload a video format movie. To achieve this you export rather than publish.

  1. Save your Flash Movie: File > Save (Ctrl S)
  2. Go to: File > Export > Export Movie (Ctrl Alt Shift S)
  3. This is similar to saving a file and Flash will need to know where to save the movie file and what it is to be called.

  4. Give the Movie a: File Name
  5. For Save as Type select: Windows AVI [*.avi]

  6. Give the Movie a name and select a file type.

    Macs: I am not sure if a Mac has an equivalent to Windows AVI format? If not, you can always use QuickTime [*.Mov].

    Mac's & Quick Time [*.Mov] When exporting as a QuickTime Movie Flash tends to create really big files which are hundreds of megabytes or even gigabytes. These large files sizes tend to take a lot of processing power to create. There must be a way to save smaller files but I have not found the right compression option?

  7. Click: Save

  8. For dimensions type: 480 x 360
  9. Select: Maintain aspect ratio
  10. For Video format select: 32 bit color w/ alpha
  11. Select: Compress video
  12. Select: Smooth
  13. For sound Format select: 44kHz 16 Bit Mono (or stereo if that is important)

  14. Export Windows AVI settings.

  15. Click: OK
  16. In the Video Compression section accept the defaults:

    Video compression defaults.

    Flash Vs Other Compression Tools: Flash has very complex compression tools which maybe good if you you can figure them out! Personally I don't bother. I use the default compression from Flash and then if needed - do a real squash with easy to use software like Ultra Video To Flash Converter.

  17. Click: OK

    Note: It may take a while to create the Video file.

  18. Save your file: File > Save (Ctrl S)
  19. Close the file: File > Close (Ctrl W)
  20. Close Flash: File > Exit (Ctrl Q)

Step Eleven: Final Compression

Depending on how long your Video is, it maybe necessary to further compress the Video. You should be able to see the file size by looking in your video Folder.

My video is only 15 seconds long so the file size is ok at 6MB. But you can imagine that if is was a few minutes long the file size would become problematic. So further compression would be necessary.

  1. Open your video compression program: Ultra Video To Flash Converter
  2. Click on: Add File
  3. Browse till you find your first film file: Dog-Vodeo_Final_Export_from_Flash.avi (or whatever yours is called)
  4. Select the file and click: Open
  5. The File will appear in the Window of the compression program.

  6. In the Window: Select the File
  7. Click on: Convert
  8. The program will ask you to register and pay a small licence fee. If you wish to please feel free to do so but you don't have to as you are entitled to use the program for single files transfers for free.

  9. When asked to register click: No

  10. Select: No

  11. To clear the file select: Clear List
  12. Close the program:

    Your file is now ready to be uploaded. If you look in your Video Folder you will see the Mpeg file:

Step Twelve: Uploading a Movie to YouTube

You are now ready to upload to YouTube. For this you will need to go to YouTube.

Note: If you don't have an account you will need to create an account. Look for the Sign Up button at the top of their home page and fill in the form.

When you are logged-in look for the Upload button at the top of the YouTube pages:

Follow the YouTube instructions.


I hope you have found this useful. If so perhaps you could recommend this site to others and link to webwasp!


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