I use Expression Encoder 4 Pro quite a lot as I’ve put together a number of screen capture videos. I tend to use it in order to capture screencasts and then I transcode them to some other format (e.g. H.264) and publish them somewhere.
If they’re going on the Channel 9 site then I leave them in H.264 and upload them to the site where they appear in a standard Silverlight-based player that runs on the site.
Beyond that, I’ve been using Vimeo which takes the H.264 and offers it back in a Flash-based player.
I rarely leave the videos on my own site any more as I guess the experience is going to be pretty poor – it wasn’t set up for people downloading or trying to stream videos from it.
Because of that, I’d got a bit out of touch with the templates that Expression Encoder 4 has for making a Silverlight based video player from a video ( whether you need to first transcode that video or not ).
I knew the templates were there as they have been for quite a long time but I hadn’t realised how much capability they’d grown but the other day I had cause to look at them again and there’s some impressive stuff in there so I thought I’d share.
Note – you don’t have to use a tool like Expression Encoder to play a video in Silverlight, you can very easily just use MediaElement but Encoder gives you templates for fully fledged players that are already built so it’s a “leg up”. Another “leg up” is available in the form of the Silverlight Media Framework.
I took the “wildlife” video which ships in Windows 7 as a sample video;
and I ran up Encoder 4.
I have the Pro version but you should be able to do this in the free version or the “Pro without Codecs” version that comes with MSDN. For a good explanation of the differences between versions, go here with the crucial text being;
- Expression Encoder 4: the base SKU (free). This can be downloaded here.
- Expression Encoder 4 Pro without Codecs: includes all features from the base SKU, plus DRM, Live SmoothStreaming and unlimited screen capture (the free version is limited to 10 minutes). This is typically available via some Spark SKUs and MSDN.
- Expression Encoder 4 Pro: includes all features from above, plus all licensed decoders and H.264/AAC encoding. This SKU is available for purchase here. It's also available as a free upgrade from Encoder v3 with IIS Smooth Streaming (see below).
Encoder 4 has that new start screen which is a “What are you trying to do?” screen. If I’m just trying to produce a Silverlight player, I can go straight through to;
Then I can use the Import button to bring in my video or drag-drop it. I actually brought in the same video twice to simulate the idea of having 2 videos to play;
Now, I don’t want to transcode the videos. I’m happy enough to leave them as they are ( a WMV 9 encoding ) so I can just select them both and right mouse to ensure that they stick with the encoding that they came with;
then I might want to add some Metadata of which there are a tonne of slots that I could fill in;
and I might want to add some captions ( I’ll do this only to the first video ) so I can just drag the play head around on the video and add captions to it;
and some markers ( independent of captions );
and then pop to the Output tab to pick a thumbnail for each video;
and then I can just pick one of the many templated options ( or if I was feeling ambitious I could design my own );
and hit the Encode button. There’s no encoding to do so my player pops out straight away;
Now, naturally it’s got the usual controls on it like Play/Pause/Stop and it’s got a volume control and a draggable thumb and so on but it also has a few more “interesting” things in there…
I can bring up the PlayList of videos;
I can see the chapters that I added via the markers on the video;
I can do the “full-screen” thing;
My captions are displayed and I can toggle them on/off;
and I can also do an interesting “offline” thing where the play will automatically download all the content into Silverlight’s isolated storage, install itself locally so that I can watch the whole thing without a connection to the web;
When I’m done;
and it’s gone.
All very nice and if I don’t like that particular player, I’ve got 15 others to choose from ( some for video and some for just audio ). Here’s another;