The Flash Video format is a video format defined by Adobe Systems. Flash Video has been accepted as the default online video format by many sites. Notable users of it include YouTube, Hulu, VEVO, Yahoo! Video, metacafe, Reuters.com, and many other news providers. Flash Video is viewable on most operating systems except iOS, via the Adobe Flash Player and web browser plugin or one of several third-party programs.
Flash Video FLV files contain video bit streams which are a proprietary variant of the H.263 video standard, under the name of Sorenson Spark (FourCC FLV1). Sorenson Spark is an older codec for FLV files but it is also a widely available and compatible one, because it was the first video codec supported in Flash Player. The Flash Video FLV file format supports two versions of a so called 'screenshare' (Screen video) codec which is an encoding format designed for screencasts. Both these formats are bitmap tile based, can be lossy by reducing color depths and are compressed using zlib. The second version is only playable in Flash Player 8 and newer - Audio in Flash Video files is usually encoded as MP3. However, audio in Flash Video FLV files recorded from the user's microphone use the proprietary Nellymoser Asao Codec. FLV files also support uncompressed audio or ADPCM format audio.
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MP3 is a digital music format which allows CD tracks to be reduced to around a tenth of their normal size without a significant loss of quality. MP3 gets rid of a lot of the information recorded in a song that our ears are not able to hear and then uses complex algorithms to reduce the file size. This then enables you to get hundreds of songs on to a CD and it also has opened up a new market over the internet - the download market as download times have been significantly reduced.
The MP3 format is a lossy format. That means that an MP3 file does not contain 100% of the original audio information. Instead, MP3 files use perceptual coding. In other words, that means it removes the information that your ear doesn't notice thereby making the file smaller. The reason lossy formats are used over raw is that raw audio files are too large to travel over the internet at any great speed. By using lossy formats it enables even dial up users to download mp3 files at a reasonable speed. Raw file formats generally require 176,000 bytes per second compared to a lossy format which requires 17,600. The difference is massive and so are the download times.