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Mozilla The Internet Media

Ogg Theora In Firefox, With Wikimedia Support 339

Posted by timothy
from the cause-for-optimism dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ogg Theora support for the HTML5 <video> tag is in the Firefox 3.1 nightlies. Theora is the only video format allowed on Wikimedia Commons, so Wikimedia people are pushing Wikipedia readers to download a nightly and try it out. Break it, crash it, report bugs, get it into good shape and nullify Apple and Nokia's FUD the best way possible. They may have gotten the words 'Vorbis' and 'Theora' removed from the HTML5 spec, but the market will tell them when their browsers are sucking."
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Ogg Theora In Firefox, With Wikimedia Support

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  • YouTube (Score:5, Funny)

    by linuxrocks123 (905424) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @02:23PM (#24420861) Homepage Journal

    It would be nice if YouTube supported in-browser Theora once Firefox 3.1 is released. It would also be nice if Theora were a good enough codec for that to be practical for them.

    • Re:YouTube (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2008 @02:26PM (#24420919)
      No way Youtube is going to let Joe Sixpack easily download whatever video he wants to his computer.
      • by Blice (1208832)
        Why not?

        I mean- They already take down copyrighted stuff... So it isn't copyrighted stuff people would be downloading, right? These are videos that are always there that you can always go back to watch- What's the difference besides the (small) ad-revenue lost? You're probably only going to watch a video once anyways- And it's more convenient to send a friend a link to it than send the .ogg...

        And if they end up getting forced to present videos in this format they can easily write it off as a feature,
        • Re:YouTube (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @02:52PM (#24421369) Homepage Journal
          Youtube's business model (such as it is) revolves around keeping you coming back to their site to watch the videos, and view the associated ads while letting them track what you're watching. They are most certainly not eager to help you make them less money y letting you easily download. You may as well ask why your local cinema doesn't give you a copy of the DVD with your movie ticket.
      • Then why do they even have videos up on their site, then, when any Joe Sixpack can easily get a tool that gets the video for him, and another that'll convert the flv to avi? Or better yet, a simple to install codec pack so he doesn't have to do conversion?

      • Re:YouTube (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @02:46PM (#24421249) Homepage

        oh jeebus, that is ALREADY EASY.

        If joe sixpack cant type "youtube downloader" into google and find a product to buy or get for free than he is a drooling moron.

        youtube has no protections for their videos, just like vimeo and the others, it's trivial to nab what you want off those services.

        Granted nobody wants the horribly pixelated and low quality files on youtube, and that is their protection.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Uniquitous (1037394)

          If joe sixpack cant type "youtube downloader" into google and find a product to buy or get for free than he is a drooling moron.

          Yes, that is generally the point of Joe Sixpack. He is a drooling moron, but he does have money to spend by dint of his minimum wage job. You want Joe's money, so you figure a way to get past his drooling moronity and make him buy your product or service.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No way Youtube is going to let Joe Sixpack easily download whatever video he wants to his computer.

        You checked the contents of your browser's cache folder recently?

  • amount of content (Score:3, Informative)

    by geniice (1336589) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @02:29PM (#24420973)
    Wikipedia doesn't have that much Theora content yet so if this is going to become more universal more work on the content side is probably needed.
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @02:31PM (#24420999) Homepage

    I've put more Theora videos on Wikipedia commons than almost anyone else. The problem is, ffmpeg2theroa [v2v.cc] (which is the most direct way of generating theora videos, by transcoding them from other video formats) is not all that great. I've tried to get three features included in ffmpeg2theora with no success at all. The developers don't have bugzilla and don't respond to email. (For anyone interested, those three features are: [1] a command line option to use whatever resolution the target video uses rather than manually specifying it [2] the ability to rotate by 90 degrees, and [3] because many cameras (including mine) tend to set a couple of bits wrong when creating quicktime movies, ffmpeg2theora need to be less picky about following certain file specifications. Right now, it errors out without producing any output)

    So yes, this is good news. But until there's more content to actually view using this - and that necessitates better production-side software - it's not all that big of a deal.

    • by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @02:43PM (#24421195) Homepage Journal

      Since the purpose of ffmpeg is to convert to/from many video formats, why isn't the conversion to Theora simply added as another codec to ffmpeg? I guess I don't understand why ffmpeg2theora needs to exist at all. (I've just used ffmpeg a few times, so I don't know too much about it, just curious.)

      • by Raul654 (453029) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @02:49PM (#24421307) Homepage

        ffmpeg does support conversion to ogg theora. The problem is that (a) ffmpeg is Linux only, which means that it won't serve any more than a niche audience for the purposes of putting content on Wikimedia commons, and (b) ffmpeg is an 800 pound gorilla. Trying to read through its man page to figure out the correct options to output to theora is *painful* (on the occasions I've used it, I had much more success simply googling for the right command)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          (a) ffmpeg is Linux only

          No, it isn't. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ffmpeg [wikipedia.org]

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Raul654 (453029)

            It's "available for Windows" in the same sense that all open source software is -- they provide the source, and (assuming you have a compiler on your windows systems) you do the job of compiling it yourself. That's so far from usable for the vast majority of windows users that I do not count it.

            • It's "available for Windows" in the same sense that all open source software is they provide the source, and [...]

              then other people compile the binaries for you. Not hard at all to find or use, and it works very well. When compiled with MinGW you don't even need to bother with Cygwin's libraries.

              http://www.google.com/search?q=ffmpeg+windows [google.com]

            • What? Binaries are readily available, and they work fine. Read the link you responded to. Or did you mean that it's not usable on windows because it doesn't come with a GUI?
            • by Anonymous Coward

              It's "available for Windows" in the same sense that all open source software is -- they provide the source, and (assuming you have a compiler on your windows systems) you do the job of compiling it yourself.

              OK, that's techically true - you've just ignored the fact that most windows-compatible open source software has binaries freely available. I don't have any compilers on my windows box and I run dozens of free software packages (I practically live in PuTTY, for example).

              That's so far from usable for the vast majority of windows users that I do not count it.

              It sound like you are trying to say that the vast majority of windows users are incapable of following any written instructions. I don't think that's a useful observation and I don't think you have the data available to you to be able to ma

            • by dave420 (699308) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @06:03PM (#24424535)
              No, it's "available for Windows" in the same sense that you download the .exe from one of the many sites that host the binaries and run it.
        • by rtechie (244489) *

          ffmpeg is not Linux only, there are Windows binaries WITH GUI front-ends available. The problem is that the ffmpeg people won't include Theora as a "standard feature" in ffmpeg because Theora is really, really, buggy and slow.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by a nona maus (1200637)
      Have you seen the video conversion instructions [wikimedia.org] on Wikimedia commons? They appear to include instructions that cover all of your complaints, including rotation. If those instructions are lacking ... whats that Wikipedia motto? You can edit? Your Wikipedia userpage says you're a PHD in computer engineering? I suspect hat "you can edit" also applies to ffmpeg2theora. :) Good points though!
    • This is why forks were invented. So if the original developers screw off or stop listening to the users, the latter can work on the program themselves and get what they want out of it.

    • The command-line options for mencoder are a bit scary, but it can do almost anything. It has dozens of video filters, one of which is rotate ("-vf rotate=1"), and it will copy the resolution from src->dest by default. I've built a few web apps that wrap mencoder to make it easy to transcode from any container/format to any other container/format. It is also very forgiving of errors, and provides copious debug output if you like.
    • So yes, this is good news. But until there's more content to actually view using this - and that necessitates better production-side software - it's not all that big of a deal.

      Considering that nothing comes immediately with all the programs you need to make it fully useful, this is a big deal and pushes the momentum toward a free and open web considerably.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Raul654 (453029)

        If Wikipedia is the only (major) site using Ogg Theora - and as far as I am aware, it is - then this announcement affects only people who visit Wikipedia and and play its media content. But, Wikipedia already has support for embedded Theora and Vorbis. About a year ago, Mediawiki introduced a java player so that ogg Theora and Vorbis videos could be embedded and played within pages.

        The built-in Firefox player will effectively replace Mediawiki's java player (for people using Firefox, at least) but functiona

  • by a nona maus (1200637) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @02:37PM (#24421091)
    I might claim that this event is unimportant due to Theora's quality compared to the leading-edge codecs, but it looks like that has been fixed [mit.edu], or soon will be. Obviously no one sane will knock Vorbis' quality.

    With the way things are going this sounds like it's going to be quite a fight between the proprietary and open worlds. I can't think of anyone better than Noikia [slashdot.org] and Apple [slashdot.org] to play the side of proprietary. ... Not even Microsoft seems to be able to pull off, well, evil as completely as those two these days. And with Mozilla and Wikipedia on the other side it's not like either side of this fight is hopelessly out-gunned.

    Of course, this is interesting to more than just Wikipedia [cydeweys.com], but few other players are both as important and have such a clear long-term vision.

    Round TWO! FIGHT!

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Thursday July 31, 2008 @02:40PM (#24421157) Journal

    I keep hearing that Theora has problems. Does it really? Or are these rumors FUD?

    Some of the "problems" seem to be misunderstandings. Like, someone encoding at a too low bitrate, and then complaining that the quality is poor. Perhaps encoding isn't very fast either. I know Theora isn't the best codec ever, but it's decent.

    I've heard it's difficult to program for the Theora libraries.

    But what I've heard the most of is unethical and unwarranted efforts to stop the use of Theora and Vorbis as well. In light of that, I regard reports of "problems" with a lot of skepticism.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2008 @02:45PM (#24421239)

    ... because it's patent-free. Quite a few games I see have vorbis.dll and therora.dll's about.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2008 @02:58PM (#24421481)
    Opera has also added support for Ogg Vorbis and recently released a build that supports video, 3D and their proposed file access: http://labs.opera.com/ [opera.com] Hopefully, Firefox and Opera can jointly tilt the scales in the favor of open video. Google should start using Ogg Theora instead of the proprietary bits they spew out now.
  • The truth is ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thedbp (443047) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @03:01PM (#24421519)

    The truth is, Theora takes much more processing power to decode than h264. It can't match the quality of h264 when compressed to the same size. Beyond that, there are HARDWARE h264 decoder chips that require little power for use in mobile devices, not so with Theora.

    Free and open formats are awesome. But sometimes, just sometimes, being free and open isn't as important as being efficient and portable. Its about priorities and usefulness in the broader market. Theora has no traction in the mobile space. there is no indication it will surpass h264 in quality at similar file sizes.

    what good is a free and open video codec if it requires more disk space, more processing power, and has no ability to be offloaded to a specialized chip in a mobile device?

    If you want companies to adopt Theora, fix those issues. That's the benefit of open and free software. You are free and open to make it better until it meets the demands of the marketplace.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 31, 2008 @03:19PM (#24421859)

      When I was evaluating codecs for an embedded platform H.264 consumed three times the MIPS of the Theora decoder, on our target CPU architecture.

      H.264 did win out on quality, but the licensing was very expensive... almost as costly as our whole CPU. The cpu load would have required us to add an expensive decoding chip. Because of those negatives H.264 was simply a non-starter.

      Fortunately our application didn't require interworking with the outside world so Theora was a good fit. At the low bitrates we needed Theora's quality was far above our other options (MPEG1, for example) and reasonable enough.

      As Theora adoption increases we can expect the pace of increase to increase. For many people the objective balance is already in favour of Theora but for most applications compatibility dwarfs all other factors. Few care about 10% differences in bitrate, and free has a huge advantage over the long term in terms of archiving ubiquity.

    • What exactly about H264 is not open?

      I can play it in VLC to my heart's content, no? Why not work on improving the VLC browser plugin, and keep these things separate!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mabhatter654 (561290)

        because that VLC cannot be legally distributed in the USA and other places due to patents, not copyright. The "code" is free but the "problem" has a license that must be paid. Organizations with money at stake Wikimdeia, Mozilla, Ubuntu... can't cut corners on these things.

  • by PineHall (206441) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @03:06PM (#24421605)
    There is another free codex that I heard was pretty good. BBC has the Dirac video format [free-codecs.com]. Could this be an alternative?
  • by mattMad (1271832) on Thursday July 31, 2008 @03:17PM (#24421813)
    I am not sure whether Firefox 3.1 will ever be finished as most Firefox developers seem to be trapped without power in Canada... :-) See: http://planet.mozilla.org/ [mozilla.org]
  • I really don't want to sound fanboyish, but, Opera implemented the attribute (though only for Windows at the time) at 8th November 2007 [opera.com] and it added the Mac and Linux builds at 18th July 2008 [opera.com].

    But, as always, it didn't got the respectable place in /.'s front page.

    I am also dissapointed in the fact that Wikipedia didn't even say a single word about Opera supporting the same spec. as Firefox even earlier than Firefox.
    Yes, I do know they support free (as in free speech) software so they recommended Firefox, but not saying a single word about Opera makes me (and Opera's devs) cry.

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