Flash Stream Work is still here and alive. Although I am in the Interactive Media program, I sometimes do not see interactive media in the products that I use everyday. But then again maybe I do. Today I was watching my favorite show Board Walk Empire online using HBO new feature, HBO GO, and it a question before watching the show asked if I wanted to watch the show with interactive features! Of course, I clicked yes.
The Web version of HBO GO offers additional interactive content for each of its HBO original series. Each episode, you can optionally watch with extra features appearing in a sidebar to the right. I was surprised to see the production commitment to these features for an online interactive experience.
Extra content modules for the show appear periodically at the top of the sidebar. They often contain images with information providing more background on the current scene of the show you are watching. There are also set images, 3D renderings of props to manipulate, a family tree of characters, and extra videos. Selecting some optional content will pause the show and take over the playback window for you to explore.
The player contains a button so you can hide or show the special features sidebar without interrupting playback. If you skip ahead in the show, the entire special feature up to that point are revealed in the sidebar. I found the interactive elements enjoyable for repeat viewings. It reminded me of all the bonus features you would see with a DVD. There were helpful to the show and promoted me to watch the episodes online more often.
I do not know how the HBO GO app functions. I would assume it is some type of Flash used on the HBO GO website but not on the HBO GO apps since iOS5 does not support Flash. Clearly in the future HTML5 video will be the standard, especially on controlled platforms like iOS and mobile overall. In crafting an HTML5, video strategy you have to understand what HTML5 can and cannot do. There are certain specifications that make up HTML5, including the containers and codecs supported. Advanced features such as adaptive bitrate, playlists, branded players, DRM, in-stream advertising, and video analytics will all be a part of HTML5 in the future.
Therefore, as we move forward in the future of interactivity it is going to be great to see if Flash dies out what is going to be used. Features like DRM or adaptive streaming, or even a standard codec, are crucial for successful media delivery. Without Flash, other plug-ins would need to take its place to fill the gap on platforms like desktop, and the user experience would suffer. On platforms were HTML5 matches the functionality; there is no need to rely on plug-ins. The measure of success is the end user experience and reach.