Why SWF Is Not Actually a Video Format

When Camtasia Studio introduced ExpressShow in Camtasia Studio 5, the ability to create a single file video with a built-in player helped our customers create compelling screencasts in a simple to use package. Things have changed since ExpressShow was first introduced in 2007, especially the way we create, host, and consume video on the Internet.

The Adobe Flash format known as SWF isn’t actually designed for videos at all. Rather, it’s a versatile way to create graphics that include animations or interactivity. Camtasia Studio leverages that file format to create a video player with the video baked in. With the rise of video hosting sites like YouTube and video file formats like MP4 with H.264 encoding the problems that a SWF packaged video solved became less relevant and the downsides of using the lossless compression of SWF have started to outweigh the benefits.

The Camtasia Recorder has come a long way in the past five years. The codec used to record the screen is recording a high quality, low file size source video file. Unfortunately, because the videos that are put in a SWF file are lossless, the benefits of TechSmith’s TSC2 recording codec are lost and file sizes balloon upwards. SWF isn’t able to provide both high quality and low file size.

Another concern is a limitation of the SWF format itself: it only allows roughly 16,000 frames per file. This puts a hard limit on video length that doesn’t exist with a dedicated and more modern video format like MP4.

Finally, playback of a SWF file is something of a resource hog. Viewers’ machines have to spend a lot of resources to load and play those files. The same isn’t true of dedicated video formats.

The SWF file format solved a lot of problems for video creation when the format was first introduced in Camtasia 5 in 2007. By 2012, better solutions to those problems, without the drawbacks of SWF, have been developed.

Title Category Level Format
000 - Getting Started: 1 - Record Full Screen Getting Started I Video
001 - Getting Started: 2 - Editing Dimensions and Save Project Getting Started I Video
002 - Getting Started: 3 - Overview of Camtasia Studio Interface Getting Started I Video
003 - Getting Started: 4 - Apply SmartFocus to Zoom and Pan Getting Started I Video
004 - Getting Started: 5 - Cut Unwanted Video and Audio on the Timeline Getting Started I Video
005 - Getting Started: 6 - Add a Title Clip Getting Started I Video
006 - Getting Started: 7 - Add a Transition Getting Started I Video
007 - Getting Started: 8 - Share Your Video on Screencast.com Getting Started I Video
008 - PowerPoint: 1 - Add-in Toolbar PowerPoint Series I Video
009 - PowerPoint: 2 - Record a Presentation PowerPoint Series I Video
010 - PowerPoint: 3 - Editing Dimensions and Save Project PowerPoint Series I Video
011 - PowerPoint: 4 - Cut and Split Clips Using Markers on the Timeline PowerPoint Series I Video
012 - PowerPoint: 5 - Use Markers to Create a Table of Contents PowerPoint Series I Video
013 - PowerPoint: 6 - Audio Enhancements and Noise Removal PowerPoint Series I Video
014 - PowerPoint: 7 - Custom Production Settings PowerPoint Series I Video
015 - PowerPoint: 8 - Share on the Web with Link to HTML File PowerPoint Series I Video
016 - Captions Overview Caption Series I Video
017 - Add Manually Caption Series II Video
018 - Import and Export Options Caption Series II Video
019 - Make Your Videos Searchable Caption Series II Video
020 - Speech-to-Text Caption Series II Video
021 - Sync with Script Caption Series II Video
022 - Callouts - The Basics Edit I Video
023 - Callouts - Tips and Tricks Edit II Video
024 - Clip Speed Edit II Video
025 - Copy and Paste (Quick Tip) Edit II Video
026 - Hotkeys (Keyboard Shortcuts) Edit II Video
027 - Save a PowerPoint Slide as an Image (to fix or update your recording) Edit III Video
028 - Set Your Default Durations (Quick Tip) Edit I Video
029 - Working with Transitions (Quick Tip) Edit II Video
030 - Produce and Share an MP4 Video File Formats I Written
031 - Why SWF Is Not Actually a Video Format File Formats I Written
032 - Why You Should Use the MP4 File Format Instead of FLV File Formats I Written
033 - Embed Video on Webpage Share III Video
034 - Export Your Project as a Zip (Quick Tip) Share II Video
035 - Share to iPad Share I Video
036 - Share to iPod or iPhone Share I Video
037 - Share Your Video on YouTube Share II Video