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Subject: FLASH: Loading Movies
From: Laura Mollett
Date: Sat, 29 Jan 2000 19:11:37 GMT

Hi All,
I'm obviously still somewhat confused about loading movies, considering that
I said the exact opposite of what's reasonable (whether to load if the user
is going to choose randomly or if the navigation is straight line :) (I
really didn't mean to, I just get easily confused :)

Not making the user load anything extra makes more sense (<blush> thanks
Marc), but... do you or don't you pre-load the movies? If you pre-load them
and park them, then it makes no difference, the user is downloading them
anyway. If you don't pre-load, then do you use a (or another) "pre-loader"
sequence to let the user know another movie is loading? Honestly, I get
rather annoyed when I've waited for a big download, click on a button and
discover that another wait is required, even if it's fairly short. But if
you don't, you have to have very short movies (with no additional sounds?)
to make sure the movie plays when the button is clicked? If a button is
clicked and something doesn't happen right away, in my experience, the user
will think the button is broken very quickly. So how are you dealing with
this? :)

I want everything to stream, but it seems to be somewhat impractical.
Yesterday, I had to find current stats on what most people are browsing the
net on (for something else), and Nielson ratings as of January 7 (I think)
2000 indicate that the majority of the US audience is still on 28.8 modems,
a second high percentage on 33.6 and very few on anything above 56. There's
1.3 million people on cable modems. That's .5% of the US population. (I
forget what the current net population in the US is, but I imagine somewhat
less than that). And I don't imagine any of these stats are better anywhere
else in the world. So you need really really simple, light movies to stream
well - otherwise you get glitchy movies (starts and stops and so forth) and
the person has to replay the movie after it's downloaded (I find myself
doing this pretty often) or preloaders or fake preloaders (putting something
in that sits with a title or picture until something else is loaded) or
something really simple like a little game (but these get tiresome and often
have very little to do with each other)... anyways it's hard, and I find the
problem much compounded when it's loading a secondary movie... do you play a
game while a second movie loads? It doesn't work well...

Also (at least on the mac) there's a limited amount of memory the flash
player has. (This is set separately from the browser, which I suspect people
who aren't flash developers have no idea how to set) and if the memory
requirements are too high, the player blows up (everything just stops, and
sometimes you don't even get any messages.) Pre-loading extra movies still
uses that memory... it'd be nice if I knew how to download the movie into
nn's cache and then have the player play it from the cache... but it doesn't
seem to work that way. I think when nn sees the .swf ending, it loads them
into the flash player (even if they're loading into the background, and you
don't see them) and eventually the player runs out of memory. If nothing is
more than a couple of hundred k it all seems to work fine, but with anything
bigger, it all seems to get really complex. And as soon as you start adding
sounds, the movies all leap into the stratosphere as far as size is
concerned. (Maybe a separate player for sound would help?)

But anyway I'm wandering off somewhere... I was wondering what is your all's
opinion and how everyone else is dealing with all this and all like that :)

Laura Mollett

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