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YouTube, HTML5, and Comparing H.264 With Theora 361

Posted by Soulskill
from the quality-vs-bandwidth dept.
David Gerard writes "Google Chrome includes Ogg support for the <video> element. It also includes support for the hideously encumbered H.264 format. Nice as an extra, but ... they're also testing HTML5 YouTube only for H.264 — meaning the largest video provider on the Net will make H.264 the primary codec and relegate the equally good open format Ogg/Theora firmly to the sidelines. Mike Shaver from Mozilla has fairly unambiguously asked Chris DiBona from Google what the heck Google thinks it's doing." DiBona responded with concerns that switching to Theora while maintaining quality would take up an incredible amount of bandwidth for a site like YouTube, though he made clear his support for the continued improvement of the project. Greg Maxwell jumped into the debate by comparing the quality of Ogg/Theora+Vorbis with the current YouTube implementations using H.263+MP3 and H.264+AAC. At the lower bitrate, Theora seems to have the clear edge, while the higher bitrate may slightly favor H.264. He concludes that YouTube's adoption of "an open unencumbered format in addition to or instead of their current offerings would not cause problems on the basis of quality or bitrate."
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YouTube, HTML5, and Comparing H.264 With Theora

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  • Theora FAIL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday June 14, 2009 @03:42PM (#28328463) Homepage Journal

    Understanding TFA linked from [mit.edu] your "equally good" link [slashdot.org] to a slashdot story? YOU FAIL IT!!! From TFA:

    Let me reiterate- and this is important- as folks have run way too far cherrypicking quotes from this update: Both before and after the correction, this graph shows only that Theora is improving. PSNR means very little when comparing Theora directly to x264. PSNR is an objective measure that does not represent perceived quality (though they correlate), and PSNR measurements have always been especially kind to Theora. None of these PSNR measurements, including clips where Thusnelda 'wins', mean that Thusnelda beats x264 in perceived quality, as it certainly does not (yet ;-), only that the gap is closing even before the task of detailed subjective tuning has begun in earnest.

    So just to recap, you have suggested that Ogg Theora video provides quality comparable to H.264 based on a study using a specific development-version Ogg Theora video codec and a specific H.264 encoder (x264) which is NOT the best encoder around, when it in fact has inferior SnR (the only thing the study was meant to test) as compared to x264, which has inferior SnR as compared to other H.264 encoders?
    I don't know who failed bigger, you, Soulskill, or the peoples of slashdot who actually use the firehose... but you have all failed miserably.

    With all that said; is there any reason they can't add Theora support later?

    • Re:Theora FAIL (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jurily (900488) <jurily.gmail@com> on Sunday June 14, 2009 @03:59PM (#28328619)

      With all that said; is there any reason they can't add Theora support later?

      The codec Youtube uses will severely affect everything else on the net, if they come out first. You can't deny that.

      How long will it take for IE to have support for another codec? They will have Youtube support in no time, I guarantee you that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by IntlHarvester (11985) *

        Windows 7 is apparently coming with a H.264 codec as part of windows media. Question is how long it will take them to implement HTML5 video.

      • Re:Theora FAIL (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mariushm (1022195) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:14PM (#28328767)

        IE will probably render any video tag through Silverlight, forcing you to install it. That's how you make market share for your products in Microsoft land.
        On the good side, Silverlight 3 has support for both WMV and h264 and can decode them in hardware using the video card.

        • Re:Theora FAIL (Score:5, Interesting)

          by IntlHarvester (11985) * on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:36PM (#28328959) Journal

          I don't see a problem with this approach. One of the silly things about HTML5 is that it looks like browser vendors are all going to run off and implement their own media stacks. Which just increases bloat and potential security issues. Why not just use WM, QT, or whatever comes with the OS?

          Not to mention that if I'm RTFAing correctly, Firefox's <video> tag is already incompatible with Chrome's.

          • by Jurily (900488)

            I don't see a problem with this approach. One of the silly things about HTML5 is that it looks like browser vendors are all going to run off and implement their own media stacks. Which just increases bloat and potential security issues. Why not just use WM, QT, or whatever comes with the OS?

            We've been through this a couple of times now. Prove Microsoft's implementation is as secure as the one in Firefox, and I'll listen to you.

            To look on the bright side, IE6 will finally die.

            • Re:Theora FAIL (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Ralish (775196) <ralish@gmai l . com> on Sunday June 14, 2009 @06:05PM (#28329601)

              Your argument subtly implies that Firefox's implementation is more secure, without providing any proof of your own assertion. Bluntly, Firefox's security record has been far from top-notch for quite some time now, and while their patch response times tend to be excellent, this doesn't change the fact that security vulnerabilities of varying severity are still frequently occuring; and we're all familiar with Microsoft's security record. I can't conclude which implementation is likely more secure.

              Which is irrelevant anyway, as you've missed the point of the GP's post in the first place (did you listen?). His argument was that if the OS supports decoding the video format, which it will if it's a modern consumer OS, why should every browser then implement its own media stack to provide a service that the OS already provides? You just end up with a proliferation of software that all does exactly the same thing. Thus, you end up with more security issues (as each implementation will almost certainly have security flaws throughout its lifetime) and more bloat (code duplication, and increase in code size for each respective browser implementing its own media stack).

              You can be surgical here and note that this doesn't necessarily translate to greater exploitation, just more security issues. Lots of different media stacks means different exploits, meaning different exploit code, and incompatibility is high. So, any given exploit might only be able to target a small subdomain of the overall browser market, but this is really just a security through obscurity argument, and good security practices (e.g. sandboxing) should mitigate such concerns, and all browsers should have either implemented such technologies or have it on their roadmap.

              I understand the value in having a variety of different options, but implementing a solution for no express reason than to offer an alternative, is inherently pointless. It has to have an advantage (and no, being open-source isn't an advantage for most), so if the OS implementation is up to snuff, then the GP does have a valid point.

            • Prove Microsoft's implementation is as secure as the one in Firefox, and I'll listen to you.

              And how does one "prove" security again :)?

              Anyway, given the WMP OCX component has been in the market and supported code for many years with a good security track record, it seems validation would be more needed for Firefox's brand-new beta code.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by IntlHarvester (11985) *

              We've been through this a couple of times now. Prove Microsoft's implementation is as secure as the one in Firefox, and I'll listen to you.

              To look on the bright side, IE6 will finally die.

              Yes, we have been through this before, and the conclusion was that shared libraries beat a multitude of statically compiled versions.

              I'm certainly not implying that any implementation is any more insecure - they have all had their problems.

          • Re:Theora FAIL (Score:5, Insightful)

            by master5o1 (1068594) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @08:15PM (#28330377) Homepage
            I am in partial agreement: The browser venders should be implementing HOOKS to the operating system's native multimedia libraries. In Windows, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera should all be hooking into DirectShow, QuickTime if installed, ffmpeg if installed, VLC's libraries, if VLC is installed.

            In Linux distributions, Firefox, etc should all hook into FFmpeg, Gstreamer, etc.
            On MacOS X, Safari (etc) should hook into QuickTime.

            They should be acting more like any other media player: Implement the native multimedia API, rather than 'create' your own. This way all browser should be able to support as many codecs as the operating system can support.
          • Re:Theora FAIL (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mabhatter654 (561290) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @08:54PM (#28330613)

            the spec is designed to be open and to use whatever the vendor wants to include. That's good. Along the way the HTML5 folks are trying to throw Free Software a bone by using Ogg and Theora as the "preferred" spec partly as a matter of philosophy and partly as a matter of pragmatism .

            The big problem is Apple and Noika. Both of which build hardware and both have significant browser interests now... webkit and Qt (covering Safari, Nokia phones, and Chrome].Both also have no problem being buddy with the media companies and other patent holders. Unlike Firefox and Opera, Apple and Nokia are part of the patent club and see no need to "rock the boat" for "moral principal" reasons. Hence people keep berating Ogg & Theora simply so that they look "right" by not playing along simply because they don't want to and it conflicts with their other interests.

        • An interesting strategy, but I don't think so. It would increase their install base for Microsoft Silverlight, but if they make Windows/IE users install something to watch video, their users would be just as likely to install Firefox.

          Regardless of whether MS requires Silverlight to render video, as long as MS honors the video tag according to the spec, they won't be making things difficult for web developers. In order to do that, they would have to require MS specific tags or attributes for video, which is

        • Re:Theora FAIL (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Sunday June 14, 2009 @05:43PM (#28329485) Journal
          Good point. My Radeon 4650 supports hardware decoding of Divx, WMV, and h264. Does Theora even have a hardware accelerated codec? With the rise of netbooks, green computing, and the Ion Netbook solution it is pretty obvious that hardware assisted video decoding is where the market is headed. So even if Theora gets "good enough" (which reading TFA may be awhile yet) if Theora doesn't come up with a good hardware assisted decoder and quick I'm guessing it will be a non starter.
      • Re:Theora FAIL (Score:5, Interesting)

        by samkass (174571) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @05:01PM (#28329195) Homepage Journal

        YouTube may have some effect on the de-facto internet codecs, but Theora has been losing this battle for awhile now so this isn't an out-of-the-blue decision. Many desktop and embedded video chips can decode h.264 in hardware, it's the primary Blu-Ray codec, it's used in several video chat applications, and many cable and satellite providers are going from MPEG2 to h.264. In addition, YouTube has been using h.264/AAC for over a year for "high quality" videos and videos delivered to iPhones, so they already have an h.264 infrastructure.

        And for consumers, it actually seems to work really well. The "encumbered" nature of the codec may affect some tiny number of people, but for most it appears to be a huge win.

    • But right now they're using H.263, so anything is an improvement! :D

      I remember when I had a perfect quality 256kbit video. I uploaded it to youtube, and it got transcoded into a blurry ~512kbit mess with audio desynced.

      • by samkass (174571)

        The "high quality" YouTube videos are all h.264/AAC already, and have been for at least a year. Never having uploaded to YouTube, I don't know how to specify a video as high-quality, but I know there are many h.264 as those are the only YouTube videos viewable on the iPhone, for which there are many.

    • by wgoodman (1109297)
      If you're so irritated that this got posted, why not vote things down on the firehose instead of just talking shit about those that voted it up?

      You're one of those people who bitches about whomever is the president, but doesn't bother to vote, aren't you?
    • Re:Theora FAIL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mabhatter654 (561290) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @08:30PM (#28330445)

      the point is that the codex part of Theora is pretty settled down. Sure it's slow, but it's FREE... really Free just like png or HTML. The HTML5 group isn't mandating that people HAVE to use Theora for commercial sites. What they're really after is that ALL web browsers will support Ogg & Theora as part of the basic specification. Then everybody will be able to have multimedia functions without paying anybody royalties. It's the companies with interest in their own pony that are causing the problems because they like having everybody have to pay "somebody" for multimedia.

  • Decoding Chips (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chonglibloodsport (1270740) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @03:45PM (#28328489)

    Superior in objective PSNR Quality. OK.

    How about CPU utilization? Are there any ultra-low-power decoding chips that play Theora?

    H.264 already has a large install base of devices that play it. Is there enough of an advantage to Theora to warrant dumping all of those for new ones?

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      Is there enough of an advantage to Theora to warrant dumping all of those for new ones?

      $.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by faragon (789704)

      The problem is encoding, not decoding, as the decoding is done in third party hardware (final user). Also in the transcoding process, i.e., decode from whatever to h264/Theora, decoding is much faster than encoding (because of pattern matching and movement analysis). Anyway, bandwidth is the main problem, as uploaded video is reencoded *once*, and played *many* times.

      • by ardor (673957)

        No, the problem is decoding. As the GP said, there are loads of h264 playing hardware out there. Theora? Nil.

        • by faragon (789704)
          It is not a problem for Google.
          • by ardor (673957)

            It is. Google will not magically turn all these embedded hardware into Theora players. If people can't play anything on it, they turn to other sites which do support h264.

            • by faragon (789704)
              Magically no, but embedded device manufacturers would move quickly for: 1) provide "youtube-resolution enough" Theora decoding for software based ARM-SIMD, 2) Hardware accelerated Theora on GPU.

              New features are adopted slowly on embedded devices, as example, take the Flash player for browsers. The change will come after demand, and Google could flip the situation at their option, no matter the way they choose, they have the Ace of Spades [youtube.com].
      • Re:Decoding Chips (Score:4, Informative)

        by benwaggoner (513209) <(moc.tfosorcim) (ta) (renoggaw.neb)> on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:50PM (#28329089) Homepage

        No, the problem is decoding too. Software decode is fine on the desktop, but a non-starter for phones. Good phone video requires and uses ASIC or GPU acceleration. Theora, as a much older and simpler codec will probably decode faster in software than a maxed-out H.264 bitstream, but even if it could get to full-screen on a handset, it'd require a lot more bandwidth, and would run the battery down very quickly.

        "Bandwidth is the problem" is also very much Theora's problem. The rather...odd example linked to aside, for any interesting bitrate or quality, Theora will need at least 2x as many bits to hit the same quality level as H.264 High Profile.

        The example page is a little confusing. While they compare Theora to H.264 (and admit it wins), their "money" compare is to H.263, which is a VP3 era codec in its own right. If they compared a good H.264 encode to Theora at the 327 Kbps bitrate, H.264 would turn Theora into a thin red paste.

        • by faragon (789704)
          Most newer ARM CPUs inside system-on-chip include SIMD extensions, so while being less efficient than GPU-h264, it should be enough for decoding YouTube-sized Theora video. It is a matter of time of Theora-accelerated on GPU, but demand should be first.
          • ...up to a certainly size/bitrate, yes. But I don't know if it would be enough to fill the screen of 480x320 or VGA phone, particuarly at a high quality.

        • by mariushm (1022195)

          Just as they have now SD, HQ and HD streams there's no problem adding another video encoded with sane settings for mobiles. After all, there are h264 levels designed for mobile phones and lots of phones already decoding them. It's just silly to add yet another format besides h263 and h264.
          Current mobile phones probably have chips that do hardware decoding of h264 clips up to a certain bitrate/level whatever probably no phone can do now theora in hardware.

        • by roca (43122)

          Where's your evidence? Why is Greg's example odd? Have you done a comparable experiment with a different video clip to justify your 2x claim, or more importantly, show that at the same bitrate Theora looks much worse on your clip?

          >>> If they compared a good H.264 encode to Theora at the 327 Kbps bitrate, H.264 would turn Theora into a thin red paste.

          Why would it, since it didn't at 499Kbps? Or are you claiming that Youtube uses a bad H.264 encoder? Or do you think that example is rigged?

          • Re:Decoding Chips (Score:4, Informative)

            by benwaggoner (513209) <(moc.tfosorcim) (ta) (renoggaw.neb)> on Sunday June 14, 2009 @06:58PM (#28329925) Homepage

            Where's your evidence? Why is Greg's example odd? Have you done a comparable experiment with a different video clip to justify your 2x claim, or more importantly, show that at the same bitrate Theora looks much worse on your clip?

            Xiph's own metrics show a 2x advantage on even a very easy short clip:
            http://web.mit.edu/xiphmont/Public/theora/demo7.html [mit.edu]

            And yes, I've done plenty of my own tests as well on Big Buck Bunny and many other clips.

            Why would it, since it didn't at 499Kbps? Or are you claiming that Youtube uses a bad H.264 encoder? Or do you think that example is rigged?

            YouTube doesn't use High Profile (no 8x8 blocks or adaptive quantization matricies) or CABAC entropy coding. So they're going to be at least 20% less efficient than the best encodes could be.

            Also, they trimmed the clip before the really interesting high motion parts. Most of the shots in the section they did use were static camera, and as animation is noise-free. Toss a nice grainy movie trailer in there and Theora shows basis pattern left and right.

            I wish he'd reported the Theora settings used in the encode.

  • repeat of ogg? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jd142 (129673) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @03:49PM (#28328529) Homepage

    I remember when ogg first came out. I read slashdot regularly, saw all the information about how great it was, how since it was free it would be easily adopted by hardware makers who didn't need to pay for the privilege. I bought into the hype. I ripped my cd's to ogg files, paid extra money for a neuros player because it was one of the few players that handled ogg files.

    Now, 5 years later I have a large collection of ogg files that are essentially useless. No one in the mainstream uses ogg, despite the superiority and price. Whenever I get a new player, I have to carefully read the specs to see if it will play my oggs. Few do. Luckily I have the cds and I can simply re-rip them to mp3s as I find the time/care too.

    My guess is that the same thing will happen with theora. It may be superior. It may be cheaper. But I just don't think it will catch on. It's another example of the slashdot echo chamber.

    • Re:repeat of ogg? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by vivaelamor (1418031) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @03:55PM (#28328581)
      Any chance we can blame Slashdot for VHS too?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Egdiroh (1086111)

        Any chance we can blame Slashdot for VHS too?

        He wasn't blaming slashdot for mp3/aac he was blaming them for the fact he adopted ogg. The analogous quote would be, "Any chance we can blame slashdot for adopting Betamax too?

        • Re:repeat of ogg? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jd142 (129673) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:27PM (#28328873) Homepage

          I wasn't blaming so much as pointing out that like many blogs, slashdot can be an echo chamber. The same opinions are repeated over and over and treated as if they are held by the majority of people. I was younger then and still thought slashdot had a finger on the pulse of technology. It doesn't. It's really great as a news aggregator and the comments are often a hoot, but it isn't what I thought it was.

        • Woosh. The unsaid words in my post were 'the prevalence of'. Context is everything unless you presume everyone is an idiot.
      • by westlake (615356)

        Any chance we can blame Slashdot for VHS too?

        Extended play trumped video quality.

        It was "good enough."

        That has always been the geek's first line of defense for the second-rate.

      • VHS was better (Score:4, Interesting)

        by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@NOSpAM.gmail.com> on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:20PM (#28328825) Homepage Journal

        Everyone has made a mythology about VHS somehow losing to Sony Beta despite being inferior. If you lived in that day, and walked into a store, there was really no significant difference between picture quality between VHS and Beta on the average TV of the day. There just wasn't. And, everyone forgets that the superiority of Beta was achieved by making the tapes only an hour long. VHS vs Beta was a silly argument. Beta claimed superior picture quality on TV's nobody had, but, VHS could store entire movies. To most people, Beta's claims sounded a lot like BS, while VHS was clearly better.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by fast turtle (1118037)

          We bought our first VCR in the mid-eighties, which was a Betamax unit. At that time, the shortest tape you could get for VHS/BETA was T120 (2 hours). The real difference was you couldn't record more then 6 hours on a betamax system where as the VHS units where already offering 8 hours of recording time but the main thing that killed the Beta format was Sony's refusal to license the tech to the Porn industry. Simply put, Porn sold a hell of a lot of VHS tapes and built the market for it.

    • Re:repeat of ogg? (Score:4, Informative)

      by vadim_t (324782) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:06PM (#28328693) Homepage

      Rip to FLAC, then encode that into whatever fits the device best.

      In my experience, finding a player that does .ogg isn't that hard. Look at the players made by Cowon for instance, they're very nice.

      • In my experience, finding a player that does .ogg isn't that hard. Look at the players made by Cowon for instance

        Some people prefer to shop for electronics close to where they buy their groceries because 1. they get to feel the buttons on the display model, and 2. returning a product doesn't involve paying for shipping. But Best Buy doesn't carry Cowon products, and neither does Walmart*. Do you know of any retail chain in the United States that carries them?

      • by hedwards (940851)
        That's my policy, rip to FLAC or APE, or something else that's lossless. I prefer to rip my discs to images complete with properly formatted and tagged cue sheet, then convert the whole catalog of files to a new format when technology dictates that I need to do so.

        Sure it takes time, but I can make my computer do most of that work when I'm not actually at the computer, or focused on other things. With the plus side being that I don't really have to worry about tagging and retagging or file integrity. Jus
      • Sansa players all support ogg, thanks to firmware upgrades. Flac, too.

        I rip to ogg when it's a CD I know I won't delete from my Sansa Clip. It actually sounds pretty damn good.
    • Re:repeat of ogg? (Score:5, Informative)

      by nxtw (866177) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:07PM (#28328695)

      Ogg Vorbis was better in quality than MP3 - back then (and even today) the most popular compression for music. However, AAC and WMA are also better than MP3 - and people actually sold music in AAC and WMA formats as well as MP3.

      Theroa is not better than h264 (the new popular standard for video on the Internet, many Blu-ray discs, HD satellite, and HD broadcast in some parts of the world), so it's not a repeat of Vorbis at all. Theora just scores higher on a scoring algorithm when compared ot a single h264 encoder, the open-source x264.

      • Re:repeat of ogg? (Score:5, Informative)

        by iMacGuy (199233) <astrange@@@ithinksw...com> on Sunday June 14, 2009 @05:30PM (#28329409) Homepage
        > Theora just scores higher on a scoring algorithm when compared ot a single h264 encoder, the open-source x264. It doesn't even do that; it only scored higher when using Xiph's PSNR tool, because it respected a buggy colorspace header written by ffmpeg that didn't match the video. x264 won rather heavily when that was fixed, but /. never retracted the story.
      • Ogg Vorbis was better in quality than MP3

        As I recall, it also took up a lot more CPU cycles, and portable music manufacturers didn't want to use it because of poor battery performance.

        • by nxtw (866177)

          As I recall, it also took up a lot more CPU cycles, and portable music manufacturers didn't want to use it because of poor battery performance.

          Some devices used specialized decoding hardware instead of using a general purpose CPU to perform decoding; even if the device's CPU was fast enough to decode MP3, a separate decoder was able to use less power.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BikeHelmet (1437881)

      Ogg players are still quite common. I got an MP3 player a while ago, and was surprised to find it played ogg. I got it because it advertised FLAC support.

      I would take ogg over mp3, and aac over both of those.

    • Re:repeat of ogg? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bagels (676159) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:15PM (#28328773)
      Not to defend ogg vorbis too much, but it has actually achieved success in a few realms - it's the audio format of choice on Wikipedia, which is one of the web's most popular sites, and it's used in tons of video games (precisely because it doesn't need to be licensed, I think). The things that made it successful in those areas (matching ideology and price/compression performance, respectively) don't really mean much to the average MP3 player user, though.
      • by _xeno_ (155264)

        It's also the audio format that my Garmin nüvi uses. If you go into the About screen it lists licensing information for several components, including an Ogg Vorbis decoder.

        As I recall, starting with Unreal Tournament 2003, the "official" music format that Unreal uses is Ogg Vorbis as well. (According to the Ogg Vorbis FAQ [vorbis.com], I'm correct.)

        So it may not be in wide use in portable media players, but it's out there.

      • Re:repeat of ogg? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dutch Gun (899105) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:53PM (#28329119)

        Ogg Vorbis is also used in video games because it has some other advantages: it supports 6-channel audio, and has support for bit-accurate decoding, allowing seamless looping of audio, and it sounds better at lower bitrates. I know MP3s can be kludged to do some of these, but it's easier just to use Vorbis in these cases.

        Our upcoming game will actually be shipping with both MP3 and Ogg Vorbis audio. The MP3 decoder we're using is significantly more efficient than the reference Vorbis libraries, and allows us to play more simultaneously decoded channels. However, if a piece of audio needs to loop, to use multi-channel, or if we're encoding a LOT of it (music, voice-overs, etc), we use Ogg Vorbis.

        Honestly, the cost of the license isn't really an issue at all. It's all about what does the job best for us, and MP3 and Vorbis each have strengths and weaknesses.

      • Spotify. (Score:3, Informative)

        by mjrauhal (144713)

        While not being a fan (or a user) of Spotify for their DRM stuff (I'm sure it's all mandated by the media lobby, but regardless) and the opaque pricing which the boss of a large (by Finnish standards) local media company Poptori suspected doesn't really get distributed all that well to artists.

        However, fact is that it's gotten pretty popular in pretty short time at least in some circles, and guess what: Vorbis. Presumably for royalty and quality per bandwidth reasons (over MP3, in any case).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IntlHarvester (11985) *

      how since it was free it would be easily adopted by hardware makers who didn't need to pay for the privilege.

      Problem is that nobody knows if this is true or not. Major manufacturers such as Apple would rather pay the MPEG tax than deal with a potential lawsuit. I don't know if this figures into Google's thinking, but they're obviously a big target.

    • Re:repeat of ogg? (Score:5, Informative)

      by julian67 (1022593) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:29PM (#28328893)

      There are an awful lot of players which support ogg. Almost anything from Cowon, iRiver or Sansa does. And almost all the Chinese brand/no-name/shop brand players support ogg even though they fail to explicitly state this (preferring to emblazon their players and packaging with mp3 and wma logos). I used to import and sell mp3 and mp4 players and generally it's only the very cheapest mp4 video players which don't support ogg, that's the ones which claim asf container support is something to brag about.....usually these use an old rockchip video processor.

      I have 5 personal players. 2 are old iRivers, H140 and H340, 2 are tiny no name Chinese mp3 players and one is a Chinese mp4 video player. Only the iRivers claim to support ogg audio but the cheap mp3 players handle it fine as well. I lived in SE Asia and every cheap mp3 player I ever checked played ogg audio too. Not a single one made mention of it in the instructions, the specs, on the box or on the player.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by cdonati (1381963)
        Even something like an iPod will support ogg files with the right firmware. For example, I put rockbox [rockbox.org] on my iPod and now it can play ogg, FLAC, and whatever other files I've thrown at it. I don't even have to use iTunes to add music to the player; I can just copy the music files to the iPod's hard drive. Rockbox recognizes them and sorts them by their tags. I didn't even have to format the iPod's hard drive. It just installed alongside the original firmware, allowing me to use whichever one I wished. Ro
    • Now, 5 years later I have a large collection of ogg files that are essentially useless. No one in the mainstream uses ogg, despite the superiority and price.

      That's more a function of the "mainstream" being dominated by Apple at ~90% marketshare and their (a) ability to pay the mp3 and aac license fees without even noticing and (b) interest in locking the consumer into the Apple world. If it weren't for mp3's early prevalence making it a pre-requisite for any player, apple probably wouldn't even support that format either.

      It seems clear to me that Apple's domination of the market for players is not anywhere near the economically optimal situation. I don't thi

    • Just wanted to put a plug in for the HTC-built G1 phone, which has had built-in OGG support from day one.

      Very nice toy, am loving being able to SSH into my servers anywhere there's cell service.

    • by srussell (39342)

      Now, 5 years later I have a large collection of ogg files that are essentially useless. No one in the mainstream uses ogg, despite the superiority and price.

      Weird. I started out the same, but I'm still ripping to Vorbis ogg. When I first started, I easily found the Cowon D2 [cowonamerica.com], which supported ogg. When I bought my Android G1, hey! Guess what? The native media player supported ogg, too. A quick Google search turns up this page [xiph.org], which lists no fewer than 59 flash based portable media players that will pl

  • by B4light (1144317)
    Look at ThePirateBay. The most popular codecs are H.264 and others like Xvid and DivX. There's almost no videos in the .ogg format, and when you do find a video that is .ogg, it's such a huge file size that you go back to look for a smaller file encoded in a better format.
  • Why is a standard being created for which Google Gears + Google Video/YouTube seems to be the "main thing" it's for? Somebody please tell me why HTML5 isn't worse than anything Microsoft ever tried to do with the browser - why it isn't platform lock-in.

    This is a sincere question, because the previous HTML standards seemed to be really truly designed for multiple implementations, whereas this app-y version seems to already have an end application in mind and is working backwards to create the "standard."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by moogord (904702)

      html was never really designed to do much more than have a single "document" that can link to other "documents" on the internet. over time dynamic ideas were tacked on such as javascript but it still has never been designed in such a way that 'app-y' ideas can be created without hacking up the 'document' model.

      Thus html 5 attempts to correct this by modifying the original 'document' model so that it now supports 'documents' and 'app-y' ideas. its not evil, its progress.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Every HTML5 feature is OK'd by Mozilla, Opera and Apple. Microsoft has voice there too, but they don't seem to give a damn about it. HTML 5 would have specified Theora as baseline if Apple, Microsoft and Nokia didn't protest. Opera and Mozilla protest H.264 as baseline, thus HTML 5 doesn't specify any codec.

      HTML 5 cares about things like YouTube/GMail, because that's where web users spend a lot of time today, and HTML4 is lacking for these types of applications. Ian Hickson (editor of HTML 5) doesn't want t

    • by beelsebob (529313)

      The point is that it *replaces* proprietry things like google gears/google video. Google (and now everyone else) will be able to continue to do these innovative things, and not require you to install flash or gears for them to work.

  • This is really one of those classic "only on Slashdot" stories. Whatever problems people have regarding h.264 licensing - thinking that somehow Theora support should be tantamount while h.264 support is "nice as an extra"? What color, exactly, is the sky on that world where you're living? Because if you were on this world ("Earth" we call it), you'd realize that stupidity piled on top of zealotry like that is the best, fastest way to render the <video> element irrelevant.

    <sarcasm>Yeah, that'd be

    • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:40PM (#28328987) Homepage

      Are those sarcasm tags part of the HTML5 standard?

    • by loufoque (1400831) on Sunday June 14, 2009 @04:52PM (#28329105)

      An open-source browser cannot legally read h264 video, that is the real issue that people seem to have trouble to understand. That is why the HTML standard only mandates a format that is not impaired by any legal restrictions: Theora.

      Not being able to legally play DVDs, Blurays, connect your ipod, etc. on linux are already big problems, we don't need another one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by timmarhy (659436)
        please link to some proof of this, as i understood it h.264 is free to decode with. i suspect you are confusing patented with non free, in the usual RMS style reasoning.
      • by Kjella (173770)

        An open-source browser cannot legally read h264 video, that is the real issue that people seem to have trouble to understand. That is why the HTML standard only mandates a format that is not impaired by any legal restrictions: Theora.

        Most companies obviously prefer to pay a license and avoid the legal risk. Consumers like myself do "apt-get install x264" and it installs from the *buntu multiverse repository. The people that actually seem to care are very, very few. Personally I'd damn near like a ban on eve

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by benwaggoner (513209)

        An open-source browser cannot legally read h264 video, that is the real issue that people seem to have trouble to understand.

        I keep hearing that, but I don't know why that would be so. MPEG-LA requires a fee for distribution of products. But Mozilla could pay the decoder cap fee (maxes out a $5M/year next year) and allow as many people to download a H.264-enabled Firefox as they want, no?

        That is why the HTML standard only mandates a format that is not impaired by any legal restrictions: Theora.

        HTML5 does not mandate any codec or format. Ogg with Vorbis and Theora were proposed, but not included in the current draft, due to concerns by (IIRC) Nokia and Apple.

  • That's easy.

    Convert the bazillion videos in youtube to Theora and store them in two formats.

  • There's a warning on the comparison site that a number of players, big name free players, don't correctly play Theora. In fact, Media Player Classic doesn't play it that video all. It's been many months since I've encountered a video that program couldn't play, so why if it's this great open source media codec do so many programs, some of them open source themselves, have a problem playing it?
  • That's my biggest concern with embedded video support in Firefox. When everyone uses Flash, it's easy to stop random web pages from auto-running a pointless and loud video clip in my ear. I just install Flashblock. Can I do the same for Theora?

    I ask because I just today had a movie review site auto-play a video and I went 'what the? am I running IE again?' It was truly a retro 1990s experience, and not in a good way.

  • After comparing the 499kbit H.264, and Theora video clips of Big Buck Bunny, clearly H.264 looks better. At this bitrate, there is obvious degradation in both samples, however H.264 is much more watchable. Theora struggles with flat areas such as text, and there is an unacceptable amount of artifacts around these elements. Perhaps in time, Theora will mature to the point where it can compete.

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