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Theora Development Continues Apace, VP8 Now Open Source 312

Posted by timothy
from the long-term-vision dept.
SergeyKurdakov writes "Monty 'xiphmont' Montgomery of the Xiph Foundation says the latest action-packed, graph- and demo-clip-stuffed Theora project update page (demo 9) is now up for all and sundry! Catch up on what's gone into the new Theora encoder Ptalarbvorm over the last few months. It also instructs how to pronounce 'Ptalarbvorm.' Ptalarbvorm is not a finished release encoder yet, though I've personally been using it in production for a few months. Pace on improvements hasn't slowed down — the subjective psychovisual work being done by Tim Terriberry and Greg Maxwell has at least doubled-again on the improvements made by Thusnelda, and they're not anywhere near done yet. As a bonus Monty gathered all Xiph demo pages in one place." Also on the video codec front, and also with a Xiph connection, atamido writes "Google has released On2's VP8 video codec to the world, royalty-free. It is packaging it with Vorbis audio, in a subset of the Matroska container, and calling it WebM. It's not branded as an exclusively Google project — Mozilla and Opera are also contributors. Builds of your favorite browsers with full support are available." An anonymous reader points out this technical analysis of VP8.
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Theora Development Continues Apace, VP8 Now Open Source

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  • HTML5 video (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:32PM (#32268022) Journal

    As far as HTML5 Video goes, a new upcoming Flash will make things even more interesting and mix them up. The final version of Adobe Flash 10.1 supports P2P to reduce the bandwidth costs for site owners [torrentfreak.com]. It works out of the box too, so users can still get the video normally streamed, but it will seriously lower bandwidth usage and hence costs for video streaming sites. This same P2P feature also works for both on-demand and live video aswell as Flash based multiplayer games.

    Live streaming should have some common specs too, but P2P streaming requires such to be made into the standard so it works for all. It's a quite large feature for site owners too, since it dramatically lowers bandwidth costs.

    I don't think we will still see Flash going away, even if we at some point can even decide about the codec used for HTML5 Video. There's still too many features Flash has that HTML5 Video doesn't support at all.

  • by symbolset (646467) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:33PM (#32268030) Journal

    I, for one, welcome our new open codec overlords.

    Woohoo! Much good [pcworld.com] will come of this.

    And all you closed, patent encumbered codec trolls: please go away now. Your services are no longer required.

    The project is also backed by hardware partners such as AMD, ARM, and Nvidia. "Hardware acceleration is extremely important." Sunder Pichai, Google vice president of product management (From TheRegister link).

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:37PM (#32268092)
      But is it really patent free?

      Ogg Theora has had this problem for some time, yes it was open but there was no way of knowing if there were hidden patents so it didn't become popular.

      It only takes a few whispered words about patents before everyone but a few dedicated people abandon the project or start paying "protection" money to trolls.
      • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:44PM (#32268192) Journal

        You can never know for sure, unless you've went through all the patents. However I'm sure since it's On2 their lawyers have looked at it.

        However, it doesn't mean it's completely patent free. Google still owns all the patents and gives a patent license to use it. They're promising it's royalty-free.

        • by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:52PM (#32268276)

          However, it doesn't mean it's completely patent free. Google still owns all the patents and gives a patent license to use it. They're promising it's royalty-free.

          Which is brilliant. If you're a small open-source group, you're a huge target for patent lawsuits due to your lack of resources. Someone is going to think twice before suing Google (or, if not think twice, have an uphill battle against their significant legal department).

          • by Jason Earl (1894) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:46PM (#32269844) Homepage Journal

            Free Software projects are not likely to be a target in this particular patent battle. Patent lawsuits are expensive, and Free Software projects are unlikely to have the resources to make them workable targets. After all, how do you prove millions in damages from a project given away for free? More importantly, there are plenty of well-funded entities with an interest in protecting Free Software projects in general, and these codecs in particular, from patent attacks. My guess is that if you were sued by MPEG-LA (or whoever) for using of VP8 or Ogg Theora that there would be plenty of companies with deep pockets that would be willing to help pay for excellent legal representation.

            You don't honestly think that Google will allow MPEG-LA (or Microsoft, or Apple) to get a precedent setting patent case against some piddly Free Software project that was merely using VP8 (or even Ogg Theora) without at least offering world class legal assistance? It doesn't matter who gets sued over these codecs. Google is going to make sure that whoever it is that gets sued has the best lawyers that money can buy. Suing a Free Software project just guarantees that the patent holders suing 1) look like horrible thugs in front of a jury 2) limit the amount of damages that they can ask for (because the Free Software guy is likely to be much poorer than Google).

            In short, there is no upside to suing the little guy, only downside. So if there is a lawsuit it will be against Google, and MPEG-LA (or Apple or Microsoft) would have to be desperate to get to that point.

            Talk, on the other hand is cheap. I fully expect a FUD-storm very reminiscent of the one that Microsoft leveled against Linux. Just because Microsoft, Apple, or MPEG-LA say that there are problems, however, does not mean that they are willing to risk a patent war with Google, and that's what it would take to actually back up any threats.

            • by tepples (727027) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {selppet}> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @07:09PM (#32271554) Homepage Journal

              Suing a Free Software project just guarantees that the patent holders suing 1) look like horrible thugs in front of a jury

              Which is why a sufficiently large patent-holding company will pay its lawyers big money to find a way to get a judge to pass summary judgment on as many issues as possible before the jury even hears the case.

              2) limit the amount of damages that they can ask for

              Practicing entities don't necessarily want damages; instead, they want an injunction so that they don't have to compete with free. Sometimes this can be as easy as a cease and desist notice, as it was with ASF demuxing support in VirtualDub 1.3 series.

        • by rattaroaz (1491445) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:00PM (#32268384)

          You can never know for sure, unless you've went through all the patents.

          Unfortunately, even then, that means nothing. Just because someone reviewed each and every patent in existence and doesn't think there is patent infringement, doesn't mean someone else will review the same information and disagree. So the question is really of high risk versus low risk for patent infringement, rather than yes or no. To me, it seem like h264 is guaranteed patent infringement, while VP8 is low risk, given that the distribution license has a patent clause.

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:09PM (#32268500)

          But that's a good thing. Google in fact holds patents on it. Why is this good? Well they give people a license to use it, free of charge. However the license is revoked if (and only if) you file a patent infringement suit against VP8. So this means if someone sues them, they can no longer implement VP8 in their products in any form. Also, since Google has patents, they have those to fire back with. If the patent filer infringes on any of those, they are in trouble, again since the license to use them is revoked.

          Basically, there really isn't any harm. I mean yes, Google could take away the ability to get new licenses at some point if they wanted, but that's true even with no patents. However as the license stands you are free and clear, and they cannot revoke it, except if you file an infringement lawsuit over VP8.

      • by Arker (91948) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:47PM (#32268220) Homepage
        Unfortunately the patent system is so broken there just is no way to authoritatively declare anything patent-free.
      • by Homburg (213427) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:00PM (#32268386) Homepage

        Note that H264 has exactly the same problem, that is, you can pay the MPEG-LA licensing fees, but there's no way of knowing if that covers all of the patents involved. The advantage that H264 did have was the backing of the major players involved with the MPEG-LA, who might have enough muscle to scare off patent trolls; Theora perhaps didn't have the same level of legal support. With VP8 being backed by Google and some other pretty big companies, it has the power to fight (or buy - Google's patent license seems to convey a royalty-free license to any patent Google could license, not just the ones it owns) off patent trolls.

      • by gehrehmee (16338) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:13PM (#32268552) Homepage

        Is H264 incumbered by any patents not held by the MPEG-LA? Their argument is that if you pay to use their codec, you're in the clear patent-wise, but there's no guarantee that another 3rd party won't pull out a patent they're infringing.... and the MPEG-LA has stated they're going to start charging everybody for access to H264 anyways.

        Theora and VP8 are in a better position patent-wise anyways. They both have tearms that have done searches patents (i believe VP8 has, I *know* Theora has), and they've publicly said that you're not going to get in trouble for using their stuff, EVER.

        • by Nadaka (224565) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:38PM (#32268920)

          "Is H264 incumbered by any patents not held by the MPEG-LA?" Probably.

          The protection that H264 has is that any outside entity filing an h264 patent lawsuit is going to have to defend themselves against MPEGLA's patent portfolio.

          VP8 has exactly the same protection from Googles patent portfolio.

          The difference between the two is that Google offers a free forever license, where MPEGLA can start charging any amount at any time and that there are no H264 cameras that are legally licensed for commercial or for profit work. Every professional videographer using H264 is in violation of the MPEGLA license.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:35PM (#32268070)

    Analysis can be found here. [multimedia.cx] Comparison pictures to other codecs are included.

    • by Virak (897071) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:54PM (#32268300) Homepage

      While an excellent analysis, it unfortunately confirms all the worst fears I've had about VP8: The quality doesn't match up to H.264, it despite that also can't even match it in speed, the spec is apparently an unholy abomination, the implementation needs work, and most disappointingly of all, it appears there is serious risk of patent issues (largely due to blatantly ripping off various parts of H.264). If there's sufficient assurance that there won't be any patent troubles, it's at least an improvement for patent-unencumbered codecs, but as it stands I'm far less unenthusiastic about it than when I first heard about Google acquiring On2.

      • With respect to quality, it's better than either Theora and Dirac, and it's also better than H.264 Baseline. If I understand correctly, the latter is largely what is used on the Net today (including YouTube), and enjoys most hardware decoding support.

        With respect to patents, the big difference between WebM and Theora is that the former has Google's corporate backing - they are the ones standing in line to be sued first if MPEG LA (or someone else) decides to do so. Needless to say, they have far more legal resources than Xiph.

        I do wonder what they're going to do about hardware support, though. On one hand, I'd imagine that Google will now push this through as a requirement for Android platform (yet another benefit of corporate backing). On the other, I'm not sure if that is going to be enough.

        • Hardware support will be good on the TI OMAP line of cellphone chips, which include an actual programmable DSP (instead of a hardcoded decoder). There's already a Theora implementation for them. These chips are used e.g. on the Droid and the N900.

        • by Virak (897071) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:13PM (#32268550) Homepage

          Yes, like I said, it's still an improvement for patent-unencumbered codecs (if it truly is such). But while I certainly didn't think On2's claims of 50% greater quality than H.264 were anything more than blatant bullshit, I at least figured it'd be on roughly the same level as H.264, not just barely better than the Baseline profile. Before this, I was thinking, "hey, maybe I can start switching over to VP8 for my own encodes once the encoder gets a bit of work done on it". Now, not so much. I'm understandably thus a bit disappointed.

          And while having a behemoth like Google behind it is certainly nice, I'm still far more confident about Theora, as it has been out in the open for much longer without problems, and doesn't quite so freely "borrow" from recent and heavily patented standards.

          • And while having a behemoth like Google behind it is certainly nice, I'm still far more confident about Theora, as it has been out in the open for much longer without problems, and doesn't quite so freely "borrow" from recent and heavily patented standards.

            Well, all it takes is one patent, either way...

            And I don't think that longer exposure for Theora is a sign of anything in particular - the real question is, has it actually being used by anyone worth suing (i.e. with enough cash to part) in all those years? If not, then it would make perfect sense for any would-be patent trolls to wait until it is more widely adopted to have more lucrative targets.

        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:15PM (#32268596)

          They may just make a deal with TI, A/D and other like companies. Offer technical expertise and maybe development dollars. There's no royalties so it lets them add functionality to their chips. They like that, as it gives companies reasons to want to buy new versions.

      • by unix1 (1667411) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @05:47PM (#32270528)

        While an excellent analysis, it unfortunately confirms all the worst fears I've had about VP8: The quality doesn't match up to H.264

        Really? Because they don't have any bias? How about this [on2.com]? VP8 looks significantly better in that video compared to x264.

    • Thanks much for the link.

      Intra prediction is used to guess the content of a block without referring to other frames.

      How the heck does that work? "Well I think Pinocchio's nose is growing in this frame, so I'll add some motion blur." - Pentium CPU. ???

      Inter prediction is used to guess the content of a block by referring to past frames

      The Commodore Amiga was probably the first home PC to do this. Rather than store all ~40,000 frames of the Dragon's Lair or Space Ace laserdisc games, it stored only a few key frames and then filled-in the gaps in-between. They also used rotoscoping (fixed backgrounds; moving foregrounds). That allowed it to fit these laserdiscs on just 3 floppies (1.7MB each). Not bad for a machine released in 1985.

      Overall, VP8 appears to be significantly weaker than H.264 compression-wise.

      Agreed..... I can tell just by looking at identical bitrate videos.

  • by Radhruin (875377) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:37PM (#32268098)
    Read the blog post [windowsteamblog.com]. Needless to say, this is astounding.
  • by FlorianMueller (801981) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:39PM (#32268120) Homepage

    Google says it holds certain patents on the VP8 video codec that is part of WebM but there's no assurance that Google's patents are the only patents required. What about patents that third parties could assert? While it appears to be a nice gesture if a major player releases software on open source terms, it's imperative to perform a well-documented patent clearance.

    Developers should be provided with detailed explanations why Google believes that no one adopting WebM will have to fear allegations of patent infringement. Otherwise those developers might be exposed to considerable risk. It wouldn't be possible to check on millions of different patents but at the very least I think Google should look at the patents held by the MPEG LA pool as well as patents held by some well-known 'trolls' and explain why those aren't infringed. Programmers have a right to get that information so they can make an informed decision for themselves whether to take that risk or not.

    It's not unreasonable to ask Google to perform a well-documented patent clearance because they certainly have the resources in place while most open source developers don't.

    The situation surrounding Android shows that Google might opt to stand on the sidelines if those adopting its open source technologies -- such as HTC -- are sued by patent holders. I can't find any promise on the WebM website that Google would come to the aid of third parties adopting the technology, so Google should at least help everyone to assess the risk.

    We all know Steve Jobs' recent email [slashdot.org] in which he said a patent pool was being assembled to go after open source codecs. So the patent question is really a critical one. Also, this in-depth analysis [multimedia.cx] by an X.264 developer shows that VP8 and H.264 are so similar that the risk of patent infringement could be substantial.

    I have previously called for this kind of patent clearance, in connection with the open source Theora codec as well as with VP8, here on slashdot as well as on my blog, such as in this post [blogspot.com].

    • What about patents that third parties could assert?

      It's Google for cricket's sake. Check this new (hypothetical) addition to the Google Search TOS: "You agree not to sue a user of any video codec based on VP3 or VP8 for violating any patent that you claim is essential to implementation of such codec." Even if that wouldn't fly, Google still has a load of patents with which it can countersue any third party that isn't a pure-play non-practicing entity.

      • by FlorianMueller (801981) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:02PM (#32268416) Homepage

        Google still has a load of patents with which it can countersue any third party that isn't a pure-play non-practicing entity.

        No, Google isn't a patent powerhouse. Its patent portfolio is only a fraction of the size of Apple, for an example, and even Apple isn't extremely big compared to some others. Look at this analysis [edibleapple.com], for an example:

        In a recent investor note from Deutsche Bank, analyst Chris Whitmore compares the patent libraries of Apple, Google, and HTC. What he found was that in the past few years, Apple has been issued 3,000 patents, Google has been issued 316 patents, and HTC has been issued a measly 58 patents.

        Also, if Google had the ability to do this, why would they stand on the sidelines when Android adopters such as HTC are being sued or when royalties are collected from them?

    • I would love to see google fund a patent war with MPEG-LA. Overwhelm them with good lawyers like Microsoft did to the US Gov't.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:32PM (#32268836)

      I don't have a Slashdot account since I normally don't respond but this time I just feel the need to say this.

      I disagree.

      The burden of proof lies/or should lie with those intending to claim infringement. Until a claim has been made and the case has been settled or judged by the courts, these codecs like Theora and VP8 should be treated as being patent free, as far as submarine patents are concerned. To do otherwise would mean that it would be impossible to create any open and free codecs, as there is always the slightest possibility that someone somewhere in the world has patented a certain technique just because he thought of it first and others just had the same idea. There are only so many ways to do efficient compression so even if one were to forget all the current techniques and start from the ground up, one would still be likely to infringe patents because the used techniques are simply logical solutions to the problems at hand.

      This is one of the reasons why software patents are fundamentally flawed. In a lot of cases they simply frustrate innovation and progress more than they stimulate it. Theora needs to change their methods to work around these patents if they notice a conflict which delays a high quality Theora codec, and they still don't have any guarantee it doesn't infringe.

      I don't know how similar VP8 is to the other codecs or wether it infringes any patents. Whatever the case may be, I Hope that Google does everything in it's power to prevent H.264 from becoming the standard on the web, for if that happens, we will all pay the price one way or another. Mozilla also knows this, and refuses to support it in any way. If H.264 becomes the standard on the web, we will have the same situation as we already have with free software and mp3 or optical media, which is also protected by patents, leaving free software legally unable to play it because licenses need to be bought.

      End Of Rant

  • by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:40PM (#32268158)

    http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/?p=377 [multimedia.cx]

    They don't seem that impressed. It is less robust than H.264, in some places seems to outright copy it. Google is offering no patent indemnification (from the article: "this is a patent time-bomb waiting to happen.")

    They give it credit for being the best open source format out there, but they fault it generally in every other category.

  • Namefail (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:41PM (#32268164) Homepage Journal

    OK, I get that Ogg and Theora and Vorbis, etc., are interesting geek in-jokes. They are also horribly crappy product names. You and I might have no problem with them, but I guarantee that 95% of non-geeks will dismiss "Ptalarbvorm" as stupid and confusing without ever evaluating it. Pro-tip: if you need a pronunciation guide, then you desperately need to pick a better name. Yes, better, as in "the current one sucks and should be taken out back and shot".

    • by FranTaylor (164577) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:57PM (#32268360)

      Yeah and names like "IEEE 802.3" are so much better? We can go back over time to things like PCMCIA and SCSI. Give me a break. Weird names have been in tech forever.

      I think the general public gave up looking for sane tech product names a LONG time ago. Nobody attaches any significance to them. Products sell and people don't care about the buzzwords as long as the product functions.

      • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:10PM (#32268524) Homepage Journal

        Yeah and names like "IEEE 802.3" are so much better? We can go back over time to things like PCMCIA and SCSI.

        Yes, those names are better. They're awkward abbreviations that derive from standards documents or technical names that make sense. They're not pretty, but they have an excuse for being weird. The Ogg names, though, are just odd and/or unpronounceable for the sake of being odd and/or unpronounceable.

      • by Dahamma (304068) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:27PM (#32268762)

        Well, "PCMCIA" may not be the sexiest name in the world, but if you can't pronounce or spell it trivially you should probably take a refresher course on the alphabet. Even more so for USB, SATA, MP3, or AVC.

        And people most definitely care about tech product and standard names, even if they have no idea why they care. Why? Because companies tell them they should care through very clever and persistent marketing. I don't know how many times I have been asked questions by non-technical friends or relatives throwing around terms like "USB", "Cat-5", "GigE", "Wifi N", "SATA", "JPEG", "HDMI", etc, when they couldn't possible explain what they stand for, let alone what they are really mean. They just know that they want their products to have them because they were included in an ad or printed on the outside of the box. Plus, everyone likes to feel like they have learned something technical, even if it's just a word definition.

        Add "now with Ptalarbvorm support" and see if anyone figures out how to spell it, let alone look it up.

    • by Tapewolf (1639955) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:09PM (#32268494)
      I think you'll find that is its codename, the release itself is called "Theora 1.2". Like Vista was called 'Longhorn' and XP was called 'Whistler' or whatever.
    • Re:Namefail (Score:4, Interesting)

      by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:11PM (#32268538) Journal

      Personally, I didn't even know what "Vorbis" means (or that it is even supposed to mean anything) for the first few years of using it rather extensively. It sounds like a nice name to me, even on its own. Same for Theora. What's wrong with them? They aren't offensive, they are distinctive, they are easy to pronounce (Vorbis perhaps more so) - so what's the problem?

    • by Dahamma (304068) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:15PM (#32268582)

      I was thinking the same thing. No wonder no one outside of open source AV geeks have ever heard of any of these standards.

      "It's a Ptalarbvorm/Vorbis Matroska stream" it just plain awful. I guess there just aren't enough open source marketing volunteers...

    • It's a codename (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {selppet}> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:15PM (#32268598) Homepage Journal

      I guarantee that 95% of non-geeks will dismiss "Ptalarbvorm"

      People won't call Theora 1.2 "Ptalarbvorm" any more than they call Windows Vista "Longhorn". Referring to software products by their version codenames seems to be restricted to Debian (e.g. lenny), Ubuntu (e.g. Lucid Lynx), and Mac OS X (e.g. Snow Leopard).

    • by Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:15PM (#32268604) Homepage
      I'm still not convinced that Vorbis, Ogg, or Theora are really all that bad...but even I have to concede that there's just no hope for "ptalarbvorm" (even worse than "Thusnelda").

      However, isn't the codec really still "Theora"? "Ptalarbvorm" and "Thusnelda" are just code-names for particular generations of the encoder, and presumably not really intended for use outside the relatively small community of developers.

      Or so I am assuming, anyway.

    • Pro-tip: if you need a pronunciation guide, then you desperately need to pick a better name.

      Tell that to the authors of the PNG [libpng.org] spec: "'PNG' is always spelled 'PNG' (or 'Portable Network Graphics') and always pronounced 'ping' in English." Yes, that's "ping" as in "Snooping as usual, I see" [youtube.com].

    • by ink (4325) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:22PM (#32268696) Homepage

      I doubt "Chrome" is a terrific name to someone who only speaks Japanese. Firefox probably doesn't make much sense to a person in Brazil. IE is horrible, even in English.

      In the end, if youtube requires it, people will install/upgrade it.

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:23PM (#32268706) Journal

      Ogg - "Ogg derives from ogging, jargon from the computer game Netrek, which came to mean doing something forcefully, possibly without consideration of the drain on future resources."
      Vorbis - "named after the Terry Pratchett character from the book Small Gods."
      Theora - "named after Theora Jones, Edison Carter's Controller on the Max Headroom television program" - wikipedia
      Ptalarbvorm - no idea.

      I think Ogg is rather lame, but Vorbis and Theora are better than HE-AAC v2 or h.268, as far as marketing goes.

  • by FlorianMueller (801981) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:42PM (#32268174) Homepage

    WebM is available under a new license [webmproject.org]. So far haven't been able to find out whether Google will try to get this license OSI-approved [opensource.org].

  • by DrYak (748999) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:50PM (#32268252) Homepage

    Yet Another Codec, both Gratis AND Freedom ?
    Supported by a fuck-ton of companies ?
    - among which not only the major player which made better the modern web as we know it (All the companies mentioned in the summary. Basically anything beside Microsoft)
    - but also several hardware industry backers [blogspot.com] (like major such as ARM, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments) ?
    (We can expect a "WebM accelerated on embed chip's GPU+DSP" Google Summer of Code poping up this year...)

    Well, thank you Google ! That's pretty much good news !!!

    Only question : How will be the HTML5 standards organised ? Will it be possible to mix and match the various codecs (Theora, VP8, ...) with the various containers (OGG, Matroska, ...) ? Or will it be specified only as defined combination (WebM = Matroska + VP8 + Vorbis ; ??? = OGG + Theora + Vorbis, H264 = MP4 + Mpeg 4 AVC/h264 + AAC) ?

    • by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:05PM (#32268430) Journal

      How will be the HTML5 standards organised

      The HTML standard just says "play video here" just like the image tag just says "show picture here" it's up to the browser to decide how to do this, and up to the web developer to use a file format that's supported by people looking at their website.

      • by unix1 (1667411) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:02PM (#32270670)

        How will be the HTML5 standards organised

        The HTML standard just says "play video here" just like the image tag just says "show picture here"

        That's just not true - try here [w3.org] and here [w3.org]. While W3C doesn't mandate certain formats, they give everyone specs for some. Besides, all generally useful image compression formats are freely available to anyone without any restrictions (as "freely" as it can be with any software these days).

        None of the above is true with video.

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:29PM (#32268788) Journal

      They aren't talking about making VP8 a part of HTML5 standard yet. So far, HTML5 spec doesn't specify video codecs at all.

      • Not *yet* (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DrYak (748999) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @06:43PM (#32271182) Homepage

        They aren't talking about making VP8 a part of HTML5 standard *yet*.

        Yet = the keyword.

        And if VP8 is supported by Firefox (a good chunk of desktop machines), Opera (a good chunk of embed systems) and Google (one word : Youtube), there's a good chance that it will be on the recommended list of codecs.
        Even more so as the makers (ARM, TI, Qualcomm...) of the most prolific chips on portable media widgets such as smart phones are on the same bandwagon.

        Suddenly the h264 vs. Theora flameware (quality + hardware support vs. patent licensing problems + opensource) becomes moot.
        (As VP8 is a modern era codec, and will probably improve to levels in the same range as h264,
        chip-makers can roll out hardware acceleration, probably GPU+DSP based,
        and Google will grant free patent license for opensource implementation)

    • by Per Wigren (5315) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:41PM (#32269802) Homepage

      Basically anything beside Microsoft

      ...and now also Microsoft. [windowsteamblog.com]

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:51PM (#32268268) Journal

    It doesn't produce the same quality, or else produces the same quality but require 1.5 times higher bitrates. Although it probably is better than Flash, and would be a good replacement for that.

    • by Arker (91948) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:55PM (#32268328) Homepage

      You, sir, obviously dont have a clue what you are talking about. For starters, flash isnt even a codec. You're comparing a container to a codec, that's not even apples and oranges, that's apples and boxes.

    • by djdanlib (732853) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @02:59PM (#32268378) Homepage

      Well, if streaming media has proved *anything* over the years, it's that the general public doesn't care if the compression ruins the work as long as they can play it for free.

      Reference the following:
      * RealMedia
      * Most Youtube videos, "fan reposts" aka re-encodes, and re-re-encodes
      * Low bitrate MP3
      * JPEG (ok, it's not streaming, but still - "needs more JPEG artifacts")
      * Screeners, cams, and foreign translations from the DIVX Discount Theatre
      * Webcams
      * Most QuickTime videos
      * Most AVIs
      * Most streaming video on Flash today
      * Cable and satellite delivered HD content

      Really, the only thing you need to say is "free" and people will at least give it a try.

      • by Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:20PM (#32268662) Homepage

        Hear, hear.

        If you're running Big Media Pay-Per-View movies and television, I can understand that the quality of the picture might, maybe, be important. Then again, I've seen people happily watching Big Media "content" as horribly smeared/blurry-looking "digital HD cable", so maybe not even then.

        I'm not sure how high-resolution helps improve videos of skater kids suffering accidental testicular trauma or kittens attacking inanimate objects...

  • Some journalists, bloggers and Twitter users appear to have misconceptions regarding the way Microsoft Internet Explorer will support WebM.

    It's certainly very positive for Internet Explorer users that they can play WebM video/audio provided that they have a codec (meaning, a plug-in) installed. That's what the Windows Team blog [windowsteamblog.com] states as a technical requirement.

    However, that just means flexibility for MSIE users and isn't a major breakthrough for WebM/VP8. Internet Explorer has always allowed plug-ins and I don't even know if it's ever tried to block one. So this isn't the same kind of endorsement of WebM/VP8 as if Internet Explorer came with WebM support on board. If that happened, it would also mean that there aren't any remaining concerns over patent issues. But that's not what has happened.

    Keep in mind that you can also view H.264 with Firefox if you have a plug-in. The net effect of the whole HTML 5 video situation is that plug-ins will continue to play a role [blogspot.com].

  • by uberzip (959899) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:05PM (#32268440)
    So can somebody clarify a few things related to html5 video for me? The video is encoded in one of these formats correct? ( H.264, WebM, etc). Then in html5 it is introduced into the page via some sort of video tag. So, if I'm using a browser that supports WebM, I still need it to support H.264 if I'm browsing a site that has videos encoded in H.264. Is this correct? So what is really the big deal about html5 vs playing video with a plug in? Just one less process running on the computer in favor of an additional browser process running (or a more bloated browser process)? Are the benefits that we now get tighter integration with the browser interface so you can now scale video or do weird stuff like rotations ala the firefox demo? In other words, is this really any different than, say, building quicktime playback natively into the browser rather than needing a plug-in? I understand that html5 offers a lot of new functionality but the video part of it seems unnecessary beyond removing a plug-in unless I'm not seeing something. And in some cases you still need a plug-in if your favorite browser doesn't support a certain kind encoded video. Thanks for any info.
    • by Randle_Revar (229304) <kelly.clowers@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:38PM (#32269776) Homepage Journal

      Paragraphs next time, please.

      So, if I'm using a browser that supports WebM, I still need it to support H.264 if I'm browsing a site that has videos encoded in H.264. Is this correct?

      Yes, of course.

      what is really the big deal about html5 vs playing video with a plug in?

      <video> is semantic - it has a specific meaning, unlike object or embed, which could be anything. Then there are the attributes and the DOM interface that go with the <video> tag, which allow direct control and integration with the page. Plugin-based systems are just a big black box sitting in the midst of all this native web content, with minimal interaction between the two. <video> makes video a native, interactive, first class citizen of the web.

      http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/multipage/video.html [whatwg.org]

      The video decoding could still be handled with an external process, BTW. Nothing in the spec prevents that.

  • by sanosuke001 (640243) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:29PM (#32268792)
    At work, we've been looking for a non-native, open source encoding library for a week or so now and can't really find anything. Do any of these have a non-native library available? (preferably Java. If not, we might port it). Even FMJ and fobs4jmf only seem to have decoders and even so, there are no examples on how to set it up without using JMStudio or a derivative of a manual setup or installation package.

    We can't seem to find any useful examples of anything anywhere. It's great to hear about new encoding plugins etc, but if nobody can find a way to use them as standalone libraries (multi-platform is best. aka Java for us) then it's difficult to back. And not having examples on how to implement make a lot of these packages almost useless as they never seem to be user friendly...
  • Ptalarbvorm! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BabyDuckHat (1503839) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:38PM (#32268926)
    Bless you.

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