Captivate 5: Saving to a YouTube file formatApril 6, 2011
I was always under the impression that later versions of Adobe Captivate could publish to a format suitable for uploading to YouTube. It seems that Captivate 4 could save as *.AVI, but that option is not available in Captivate 5 (why on earth would Adobe *remove* features??). (Update June 2011: It seems the newly released Captivate 5.5 will save to formats acceptable to YouTube. This is a paid upgrade [some US$150] for Captivate 5 owners.)
And how do I know this? Because I just spent a couple of hours searching Adobe’s Help, Forums, the internet etc. and testing possible solutions to find out that publishing a Captivate file to a format suitable for YouTube is possible, but it’s a bit obscure and requires the use of another program. It’s also not documented in the Help (a search of the Help for YouTube gave no results).
Captivate 5 will publish to *.F4V format and YouTube will accept those files, BUT… and it’s a big BUT… the files created are BIG. My tiny test file had one image, three 3-second slides with minimal text, and no audio, yet publishing it to *.F4V created a file that was almost 12 MB. Not very helpful or useful — files that size just clog the ‘intertubes’. Oh, and when uploaded, the resulting video on YouTube was a bit fuzzy. By the way, in case it matters, this test file was set to 800 x 600 pixels with a default slide time of three seconds.
After some more internet searching, I discovered that there’s an Adobe product — Adobe Media Encoder — that’s automatically installed when you install Captivate 5. Who knew? And this program was able to reduce the file size dramatically as well as reduce the fuzziness I had in the F4V file. Initially, I couldn’t figure out how to change the default conversion output of one second per slide (my little project lasted for three very quick seconds on YouTube!), but after reading this article — http://blogs.adobe.com/captivate/2010/11/f4v-or-f4v-fixed-frame-rate-what-should-i-go-with.html — I got it working so that the output timing reflected the timeline of my Captivate project.
Here’s how to get a Captivate project into a small file format suitable for YouTube:
- Publish your Captivate project to *.F4V format (on the Publish window, select Media then the F4V with fixed frame rate file type). The F4V with fixed frame rate preserves your timeline.
- In your Programs list, find Adobe Media Encoder CS5 and open it.
- Drag the *.F4V file you just created onto the workspace on the Media Encoder window.
- By default, Media Encoder sets the Preset (output) to the same Format as the original, and adds a number to the new file that will be created. You can change any of these settings.
- After experimenting with different combinations of Format and Preset options, I settled on H.264 and YouTube SD. The output file from this combination is *.MP4, and the file size is acceptable.
- Click Start Queue. When the conversion has finished, a green tick is added to the Status column in the Media Encoder window.
- Check the resulting file — its size should have reduced dramatically. As you see from the screen shot below, my 3-slide file went from around 12 MB to around 1 MB.
- If you don’t have any software on your computer to play the file, upload it to YouTube, set it to Private or Unlisted and check the resulting quality there. Of course, you’ll need a YouTube account!
[Links last checked April 2011]