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Working With Ogg Theora and the Video Tag 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the fighting-the-good-fight dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Free Software Foundation's Holmes Wilson is just back from Berlin, where he participated in the Ogg Theora book sprint put on by FLOSS Manuals. Here is a broad look at Ogg Theora and how it fits into the push for free formats: where we're winning, what works, and what could be improved."
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Working With Ogg Theora and the Video Tag

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  • Theora (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ardor (673957) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:22AM (#29153677)

    Unfortunately, Theora will stay irrelevant where it matters most. In sites like Youtube, h264 will prevail. And this time, h264 is the (much) better tech as well.
    To get the same quality as h264 video, Theora video needs higher bit rates, which translates to higher traffic, and in the end costs more money. The much higher popularity of h264 compared to Theora doesn't help, either.

    • Re:Theora (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:31AM (#29153715)

      Agreed. And the OP linked article has a joke-of-a-comparison. I encoded the same video, same dimensions, same frame rate, and was able to widdle h264+AAC bandwidth down to 260 kbps and it still looked better than Ogg/Theora+Vorbis especially where the scene zooms towards the dark cave with sleeping bunny.

      • Re:Theora (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @02:10AM (#29153841) Journal

        Not to mention the lack of hardware acceleration makes it pretty much a non starter. My graphics card that cost a whole $50 (a 4650) came with H264, WMV9, DivX, and MPEG 2 & 4 out of the box. And with the rise of netbooks/nettops, green computing, mobile devices and high def video now more than ever hardware acceleration is the way to go. Is there even a beta driver for Theora that gives ANY acceleration?

        Without hardware acceleration, preferably given to the big three (AMD, Intel, Nvidia) so they can integrate it into their drivers so users can get full acceleration easily and out of the box, I just don't see Theora gaining any ground. I know that those that support FOSS find this hard to accept, but Joe user really doesn't care if a codec is free or not, hell most don't even know what a codec is, they just want easy to use and simple. Theora need hardware support like yesterday if they want to gain traction. Although ultimately I think it will be like Vorbis VS MP3. Vorbis might work fine, but my MP3 player doesn't play Vorbis, in fact the majority don't. Folks don't care that MP3 is encumbered because it works for them. So while I wish the Theora guys luck it looks like a seriously uphill battle from where I'm sitting.

        • Re:Theora (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @02:16AM (#29153865)

          And staying with that kind of thought process, one wonders why anybody bothered with Linux development from the mide 90's.

          • by Rockoon (1252108)
            What does Linux development have to do with the obvious advantages of hardware acceleration?
            • Have to start somewhere. Lets get the DSP/GPU codecs out the door!? ;)

            • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

              For quite a while hardware accelerated graphics on linux was next to unheard of.

          • by westlake (615356)

            And staying with that kind of thought process, one wonders why anybody bothered with Linux development from the mid 90's.

            Net Applications tracks any device with a measurable global presence on the web. The numbers for Linux are - to put it charitably - not particularly impressive.

            I don't think Ogg Theora - advancing at the same glacial pace - has fifteen years to become a contender.

            Top Operating System Share Trend [hitslink.com], Operating System Market Share [hitslink.com]

          • Nobody is against the *development* of Theora. We all wish it would beat H.264. And you know it. So your statement is intentionally twisting things to make an argument where none is.

            It's that *right now* there is no point in *using* Theora. If you got 100 movies in H.264 on your hard disk, and watch YouTube with that format, you aren't caring about the legality of the possible chance that someone who has a big interest in their format becoming the most used suing its users when that format is used on anothe

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by moogord (904702)

          well. once opencl is more previlant, opencl decoding of anything is perfectly viable.

          even then, the end user doesn't care if its accelerated decoding or not, they just care that it plays smooth

        • Re:Theora (Score:5, Informative)

          by FrostedWheat (172733) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @05:30AM (#29154421)

          Not to mention the lack of hardware acceleration makes it pretty much a non starter

          You say this, but nowhere do you say why it needs hardware acceleration. Have you even tried it? My fairly old machine plays a 1080p Theora video just fine. A completely unscientific test with top shows about 33% CPU usage, peeking at about 40%. The same machine cannot decode 1080p H.264 video in real time.

          Theora just isn't as CPU greedy as H.264 -- it doesn't need hardware acceleration. Although it wouldn't hurt ;-)

          • Re:Theora (Score:4, Insightful)

            by skribble (98873) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @06:15AM (#29154507) Homepage
            Hardware acceleration (and dedicated hardware in general) is much more efficient (and for manufacturers, much less expensive) then general purpose processing. So while your computer may have a processor that can handle this, many smaller consumer devices don't... additionally, for portable content you need energy efficiency... how long would you computer processor run on a cell phone battery? Also... hardware acceleration isn't just for play back. It's also for video creation/production. Many pro video systems take raw video and encode it to h.264 on the fly in real time (For SD/HD streaming and well as broadcast distribution). And then there's other studio productions where hardware acceleration allows working with real time effects... etc. The reality is that playback is a very small part of the puzzle... If you want to push Ogg-Theroa as a standard then you need the product creators to use this, and... there is no compelling reason to do so. I support much Open-Source software (both with my time & contributions and direct financial support)... that said, in the real world you pick the best solution for the problem, and in this case Ogg-Theroa is not it. And this is no disrespect to the development of this... this is hard stuff to do and it's really incredible that Ogg-Theora is where it is today, unfortunately it falls short of h.264. Also... pushing an inferior standard down the throats of a web viewing public, isn't going to win the open source model any friends.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by skyride (1436439)

              "So while your computer may have a processor that can handle this, many smaller consumer devices don't..."

              Ok im sorry, but I keep hearing this arguement and it is pure and utter crap. Nobody, and i mean like, NOBODY, is ever going to want to run 1080p on a tiny little 3" screen. I know we'll the get the arguement of "but what if they want to hook it up to a TV", but in the real world, people don't do that. Heck, most people are amazed at the fact you can plug a computer into a TV. So seriously, yes H.264 i

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by hairyfeet (841228)

                I'm afraid you are the one who is wrong on this one. While you are correct about high def I have found that the vast majority of my customers want to watch videos on their devices. With netbooks/nettops being so popular, and frankly the Atom being so shitty (I had a chance to play with a customer's Atom based netbook not to long ago. Honestly my 1.1Ghz Celeron from 2001 had more oomph than that little thing) you pretty much HAVE to have hardware acceleration to get any kind of decent framerates while keepin

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by mugginz (1157101)
                  One thing for sure, hardware accel for Theora will only come after (if) there is wide adoption of the format. The only likely caveat to this that I can see would be Theora decode via OpenCL produced by the community.
              • But the video itself is 1080p. That means the hardware has to deal with the 1080p video and then resize it to whatever the display resolution is. And guess what? Hardware is better at doing that kind of transform than software.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by BikeHelmet (1437881)

              Also... pushing an inferior standard down the throats of a web viewing public, isn't going to win the open source model any friends.

              Inferior codec? Yes, IMO.

              Inferior standard? Debateable.

              Theora has...
              -Superior (lower) CPU usage.
              -Superior (smaller) patent minefield and licensing costs.
              -Superior (lower) encoding time. You might not think much of this, but I'm sure Youtube does, which probably encodes dozens of videos per second.

              Theora lacks...
              -Hardware acceleration. (At the moment, although I'm sure DSP/GPU codecs could be designed. Someone just has to do it.)
              -Good quality at low bitrates. (Although to be honest, with all the settings You

              • by Goaway (82658)

                -Superior (smaller) patent minefield and licensing costs.

                True on the latter, false on the former. There are a great deal of patents that are known to affect h.264, and you get a license for all of them when you pay up. For Theora, we don't really know. Xiph.org just says not to worry, but expect us to take their word for it. They may very well be right, but companies don't like that kind of uncertainty. They'd much rather pay for a known set of patent than take risks with unknown ones.

          • by jo_ham (604554)

            What about your phone? Or your new, and as yet unseen tablet PC that needs 8 hour battery life? Those may not be important to you personally as a consumer, but they are in the bigger picture. Battery life, low power, minimising the energy cost to do any particular task is going to be even more important as time goes on. Your desktop machine has power and cycles to spare, the next "latest and greatest" portable thingermajigger will not.

          • You say this, but nowhere do you say why it needs hardware acceleration

            What about mobile or embedded devices? Think about what a company like Apple has to consider when deciding what video standard to support. Can you play HD Theora videos on an AppleTV? On an iPhone? How quickly will it drain an iPhone's battery life? How hot will an AppleTV run?

            I don't really know the answers to those questions, but I would guess that hardware support makes a big difference.

        • Even more than on "the big three" and desktops/laptops, hardware decoders are essential on mobile hardware.

          Apparently an iPhone 3GS can unofficially decode 1080p30 h264 [engadget.com], and the ZuneHD can do 720p (and even officially supports it). That's just insane; some modern non-hardware accelerated, or even partially accelerated, desktops and laptops still have trouble playing back 1080p smoothly. Being able to do so on a cell phone, and to do so without killing the battery within seconds, is a big deal.

          Lack of hard

          • by CSMatt (1175471)

            Lack of hardware decoders on the desktop is a minor annoyance, but for mobile hardware it's a deal breaker. And mobile is a big and rapidly expanding market.
            If open source codecs are going to get widespread adoption going forward, they're going to need to get built into hardware codecs.

            No, the opposite is true. If Theora is going to get built into hardware codecs, it needs to get widespread adoption. Without enough adoption, there is not enough demand to justify the cost of developing and deploying accelerators.

            As you mentioned, desktop machines don't need hardware decoders as badly, so Theora can get the necessary demand from those machines.

        • Re:Theora (Score:4, Insightful)

          by CSMatt (1175471) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @02:25PM (#29156695)

          I am sick of this argument. Not because of its merit, but because of its defeatist attitude. Arguments like this one are basically "Theora has no hardware decoders at the moment, therefore it never will, and Theora will die." They may not be saying this explicitly, but the implication is certainly there.

          At what point do you think that someone won't step up to the plate and design a Theora decoder? I don't know of any technical reason that they can't. The decoder has been frozen since 2004, so encoder improvements can still continue and will still play on hardware-accelerated devices. The only thing that is needed is sufficient demand for the codec. The codecs you mentioned as now having hardware accelerators started out without any. It was only after those formats became popular that they started being built.

          Furthermore, mobile devices may or may not need these decoders, but the overpowered Core Octo machines that the soccer moms and grandmothers of the world are being told that they have to buy for their e-mail and word processing needs will handle Theora without any acceleration. You mentioned your $50 card? Well, my card has no acceleration at all, and I can play web-resolution Theora just fine. In fact, I can play multiple videos at the same time.

          Defeatist arguments like this one aren't helping. They are hurting. They only serve to create self-fulfilling prophecies by discouraging Theora adoption on the grounds of something that will never come to pass unless Theora adoption occurs in the first place. If you really do want Theora to succeed, then it needs to grow enough of a base that chip manufacturers will see a high enough demand for Theora chip production.

        • Folks don't care that MP3 is encumbered because it works for them

          Another point is that MP3 will no longer be encumbered in a few years when the patents expire. That's another reason for people to not care about MP3 versus other audio codecs.

        • by Burz (138833)

          Um, according to the article the new Theora is targetted at small videos embedded in web pages. Acceleration hardly matters there. Indeed, most of the overhead experienced with Flash-based stuff is inefficiency in passing through from flash to the browser window (that is why playing a saved FLV uses about 1/4 the CPU power that flash+browser needed to play it).

          Theora is not being targetted at large, hi-def formats yet so you can save the hot air for now.

    • Vorbis (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To stay irrelevant wouldn't Theora need to be removed from browsers that natively implement it? Please provide the references for such plans by Mozilla or Google.
      Also, why do people always leave out any comparison of the Vorbis audio? Is it just as irrelevant? The tag is still in the specs.

    • by gaspyy (514539)

      Unfortunately until MS includes video tag support in IE, nothing will matter.
      Even if IE share drops to 40-50%, no content provider will be able to say "screw 'em".
      And then we can only hope that MS will support H264 and not just VMW or whatever they want to push.

      Whether you like it or not, we'll still need to use Flash for video for the foreseeable future (which, by the way, supports H264).

      • If google wants the video tag, which Chrome supports, they'll damn well implement the video tag on youtube.

        The second something as popular as google, you tube or facebook implements video and leaves no other alternatives is the day that Microsoft will wake up and implement the video tag or be left in the dust.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Lennie (16154)
          Even more likely they'll implement VP6 from On2, the company they recently bought. On2 is the company that released the source and codec-information of VP3 as Theora. Theora has been seperately improved over the years.

          Maybe they'll release VP6 as open source, we'll know when we see it.
          • by Goaway (82658)

            There is little incentive for Google to use any of the On2 codecs without opening them up first. A codec only they can play is no different from h.264.

      • by Lennie (16154)
        Why ? If Theora in the future is good (yes: IF) their is no reason you can't just say:

        <video src="video.ogv">
            <object classid="classid:something--whatever-flash" >
                <param name="movie" value="ogvplayer.swf">
                <param name="file" value="video.ogv">
            </object>
        </video>

        Which is perfectly fine, even in IE.
    • Re:Theora (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @06:39AM (#29154567)
      The relevance of Theora was and is like the relevance of ogg. Sure its not going to take over. But without it, the other codec owners (apple, MS etc) would have no "license free" completion to keep them honest. Instead of a debate about licensed and unlicensed codecs, it would have been a debate on how the hell could we afford these kind of license fees to claim any kind of standard in the first place.

      As for the higher bitrates arguments. Honestly you tube and co look like such crap I can't believe people ever bother, theora dose not look worse that these bit rates. I have decided most people are in fact blind.
    • Would you care to read the article and address the claims that the NEW Theora is just as good as H264 for web video (small formats) but not hi-def?

      No?? Then you are OT.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:30AM (#29153705)

    FTFA: Ogg Theora is becoming a big deal

    I have worked at various companies, from small ventures up to well-known large corporations and have found the same thing at each. Employees think that their company is pretty well-known in their respective fields. While it may be true of some companies (IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, just to name a few), most third party vendors are mere gnats on the backs of those wildebeests.

    This is myopia caused by too much focus on a specialized area. Yes, maybe within a very limited sector your technology may be making inroads, in general you are nothing more than a butterfly flapping its wings. Theora is not becoming a big deal. It is just another codec, and one that isn't particularly popular.

    There are technical issues that need to be addressed technically, not simply (as the author of the article does) waved away as a future feature to be implemented when the codec becomes more popular. It will never become more popular until it can offer sufficient reason to switch. Relying on the negative influence of patent encumbrance to drive people towards the codec is a losing proposition. It is a reactive strategy that cannot eventually win.

    What struck me most about this article was how even the FSF is not particularly behind Theora, per se. They are for "patent unencumbered" codecs, so they have no real inclination to push Theora in the marketplace. Without a proactive strategy to push Theora both in a business sense as well as technically, it will flounder.

    Another codec bites the dust. Big deal.

    • I dunno but I think "bites the dust" is a bit of a hyperbolic overstatement, don't you? I mean, I doubt Theora's market relevance or market saturation is on any sort of *decline* even if it clearly isn't catching up to h264 in any strategically important way either.

      It sounds to me like you're saying here that just because the Ogg Theora team might be somewhat deluded about their codec's visual quality or market potential in the immediate future that it is proof they should just all give up and switch back

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

        Certainly we are allowed some leeway for hyperbole here on /.!

        No, Theora isn't dead yet. But with no true proactive strategy to switch users away from other codecs, Theora must rely on users switching away on their own. Given that Theora is, technically, inferior in many ways to other popular codecs and has no clear industry support to improve the codec, it's not clear to me why they would expect users to accept it on a technical level.

        Yes, it has the benefit of being patent-unencumbered. However, this isn'

        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:22AM (#29154981) Journal

          Well, the MPEG-LA is doing a good job with their plan to introduce per-download fees for people using H.264 next year. If you're still using H.264 for streaming video next year, for anything longer than a 10-minute clip, expect to be giving all of your profits away to the MPEG-LA. Or you could switch to some other CODEC like, for example, Theora, which doesn't have stupidly-expensive licensing fees.

          To be honest, I'm more interested in Dirac than Theora. VC-2 is a profile of Dirac which, like Theora, is not patent-encumbered. It's based on wavelets and is much higher quality and has a lot more industry backing than Theora (the BBC, for example, are using it for archiving already). Currently, the CPU requirements for decoding Dirac are a bit high. Playing back the Big Buck Bunny example on my 2.16GHz Core 2 Duo uses 100% of one core (although I'm using a slightly old version of the CODEC, apparently the latest one is about 20-30% faster). The BBC is working with hardware manufacturers to get hardware decoders which should make it a lot more attractive. There's also a CUDA-based implementation and a GLSL version which are reported to be a lot faster than the CPU-based version (I've not tried either) and should work on most modern GPUs. Given that most modern handhelds now include an OpenGL ES 2.0 GPU, which means that they support GLSL, it's likely that Dirac playback on handhelds will work nicely soon.

          Theora has much lower CPU requirements than even H.264, so using Theora for the low-quality version and Dirac for high quality sounds like a sensible approach.

          • Well, the MPEG-LA is doing a good job with their plan to introduce per-download fees for people using H.264 next year. If you're still using H.264 for streaming video next year, for anything longer than a 10-minute clip, expect to be giving all of your profits away to the MPEG-LA.

            Well, that's not very likely. The advantage of H.264 is that it saves bandwidth, indeed, that's what Google is seeing as the primary advantage, so the balance is going to be "What's the cost of bandwidth + free vs bandwidth - H.2

            • YouTube currently uses H.263 for all of their standard definition stuff, and only uses H.264 for a few things. Theora is a very strong competitor to H.263, providing better quality at the same data rate or smaller size at the same quality.

              Theora exists in the same domain as all of the MPEG standards, which means many organizations have been developing in the same space, and the likelihood that a technology critical to Theora is encumbered by patents, the owner of which hasn't yet revealed it, is pretty high.

              I'm not sure why you think this. On2 was selling VP3 for a long time, and Theora is a tweaked version of VP3, yet no one claimed it infringed their patents. A patent troll could just as easily have a submarine patent on H.264 as Theora - the MPEG-LA doesn't (and can't

              • I'm not sure why you think this. On2 was selling VP3 for a long time, and Theora is a tweaked version of VP3, yet no one claimed it infringed their patents. A patent troll could just as easily

                When On2 was selling VP3, it was a proprietary codec and wasn't exactly used that widely. Patent owners had no serious way to know that the codec infringed on any patents of their's and if they did, a lawsuit wouldn't be likely to achieve much.

                I addressed the issue about submarine patents that H.264 might infringe

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You sound a bit down today. Cheer up BadAnalogyGuy, things'll get better soon and you'll be back on your feet making new and exciting bad analogies in no time. Like a wheel that has just driven over some shit.

      Oh, and it isn't about proactive vs. reactive. The market doesn't care about motives, it cares about relative value. And when proprietary codecs become so expensive and encumbered that the cost of using them versus a free alternative crosses some threshold, Theora's relative value will rise and it will

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by east coast (590680)
      most third party vendors are mere gnats on the backs of those wildebeests.

      He is Vigo! You are like the buzzing of flies to him!

      Sorry, had to do it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Skapare (16644)

      Everything that is new starts out in the not particularly popular phase. Some things rise rapidly, usually because there is nothing else before them. Some things rise more slowly. And, of course, there are lots of failures that never make it. Just because something is new doesn't mean squat one way or the other. Everything was new at one point.

      I do agree that if the promotion of Ogg Theora is done strictly on the basis of no patent encumbrance, then it won't gain any significant popularity. That's bec

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Quantumstate (1295210)

      As the first paragraph of the article says "[Ogg Theora] now works in over 24% of the world's web browsers". From the context it is obvious that this is why they are saying it is becoming a big deal. So maybe it won't ever catch on in other places but it does have a large portion of the browser market by being included in the second most popular browser.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

        Cigarette lighters are available in over 90% of all the world's cars and light trucks.
        Sexual reproductive organs are present on over 99% of all Slashbots.
        Calculator apps are included in over 90% of all modern OS installations.

        Just because something exists in large numbers doesn't mean it is used, and if it isn't used it isn't really a big deal.

      • Yeah, I'd like to know where that figure comes from. According http://en.flossmanuals.net/TheoraCookbook/HTML5 [flossmanuals.net] which is linked to by the article, only Firefox 3.5 (which definitely doesn't have a 24% marketshare) natively supports Theora. And all the browsers that don't natively support it support it via a Java plug-in.

        I assume the other 76% of browsers support Death Panels instead?

  • hmmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thatskinnyguy (1129515) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:54AM (#29153775)
    With regards to the video tag, why not support both h264 and Ogg Theora?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Torrance (1599681)

      It's all about the IP and the patents!

      If h.264 were royalty free, no doubt it would be supported. But as it stands, only those with deep pockets can pay the licensing fees — and that goes for both those providing the decoders as well as those simply hosting (broadcasting) h.264 encoded content.

      • Royalties? I haven't been paying any royalties... Oh wait, right, some countries actually had the sanity to render business method and software patents as invalid. This entire thing is really a result of the (known, enormous) stupidity of the USPTO.

        Of course both the MPEG LA and Xiph.org make no guarantees about the codecs actually not being under patents not controlled by the respective groups. It's, from my understanding (particularly given the USPTO's tendency to act like a drunk co-ed), highly likely th

    • Re:hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by beelsebob (529313) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @02:45AM (#29153973)

      The reasoning is that they wanted to put one codec in the spec that they could guarantee that all vendors would support, roughly like flash is now through plugins. That way, the video tag would actually be usable, website authors could guarantee that unless people used crazy browsers from crazyville, they would be able to watch the video.

      In the mean time though:
      â Mozilla refused to support h264 because it is patent encumbered.
      â Apple refused to support ogg because it's technically inferior and they didn't want to put dev effort into something worse than they already have.

      The result was that no decission could be made on which one would be supported everywhere.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Thanks for the clarification. Why I asked in the first place was because I actually tried the video tag out. It's dead simple in theory, but in practice, it's another story. I needed at least 3 video files and two additional scripts for browsers to fall-back on in case the browser didn't support Ogg Theora - one for Safari and one for a Flash player. There was no perceivable difference in quality in any browser.

        If things are going to be this way by the time HTML spec becomes a standard, I think I'll just st

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by FrostedWheat (172733)

        Apple refused to support ogg because it's technically inferior and they didn't want to put dev effort into something worse than they already have

        I don't believe this is true. They've mentioned the potential for submarine patents as a reason for not using it. If this could be made clearer for them, there's no technical reason why they couldn't support the format. Heck, Webkit already supports the <video> tag and adding a Theora decoder would be trivial for an apple developer. A few hours work.

        Regarding

        • by Lennie (16154)
          <i>Apple refused to support ogg because it's technically inferior and they didn't want to put dev effort into something worse than they already have</I>

          <i>They've mentioned the potential for submarine patents as a reason for not using it.</I>

          Actually it was both.

          Funny, Apple actually has a free (as in free beer) license granted by On2 (now Google) to use VP3 (which Ogg Theora in based on), so it's kinda strange they complain about patents.

          And yes, the iPhone now may not support Theor
        • by beelsebob (529313)

          there's no technical reason why they couldn't support the format
          Yes there is, there's no hardware ogg theora decoder available. That means that apple's most profitable piece of hardware can't be made to play it.

        • Re:hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:37AM (#29155039) Journal

          Submarine patents are not a valid reason for choosing H.264 and not Theora. The VP3 codec that Theora was based upon has been around for longer than H.264 so there has been longer for patent trolls to come out of the woodwork. The H.264 license you get from the MPEG-LA doesn't grant you a license to all of the patents required for H.264, it grants you a license to all of the patents that the MPEG-LA knows about required for H.264. Similarly, the (free and irrevocable) patent grant from On2 gives you a license to all of the patents that On2 knows about required for Theora.

          Oh, and it wouldn't take a few hours for an Apple developer to add Theora support, it would take zero hours. On my machine, video tags referring to Theora content Just Work(tm) in Safari. Safari doesn't do any video decoding, it delegates it to QuickTime. If you have the (free, provided by Xiph) QuickTime Theora plugin installed then Theora videos work correctly. Installing the codec isn't exactly difficult and once you've done it you never have to think about it again. The problem is on the iPhone, where users can not install their own codecs.

        • by CSMatt (1175471)

          Or it could be that Apple is an AVC patent holder [mpegla.com], and stands to gain by pushing a format that they can later cash in on. Given this advantage, Apple is unlikely to support any free formats, and is likely using Theora's shortcomings as an excuse.

          Funny how a lot of commenters here are quick to point out the possible ulterior motives of Microsoft, but so few do the same for Apple.

  • Theora 1.1 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Torrance (1599681) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:57AM (#29153789)
    Monty from Xiph has provided an update [mit.edu] on the state of the upcoming 1.1 release. It makes for interesting reading.
  • The bigger picture (Score:4, Insightful)

    by malevolentjelly (1057140) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @02:07AM (#29153825) Journal

    I don't think there's any evidence that the video tag is catching on in any meaningful way. Can anyone point me to evidence of the contrary?

    Who is to say that Flash's grasp is even weakening among major content providers? Is the video tag DRM friendly?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I don't think there's any evidence that the video tag is catching on in any meaningful way. Can anyone point me to evidence of the contrary?

      Here you go [youtube.com].

      Is the video tag DRM friendly?

      Hell no, but neither is Flash, realistically.

      • Here you go [youtube.com].

        A technical demo? Come on. If this is all it takes to be "catching on," then I would say JavaFX is the future.

      • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @02:59AM (#29154025)

        Well, that was anti climactic.

        Opera 10 beta 3: Shows the player, but doesn't work "You must have an HTML5 capable browser."
        Firefox 3.5.2: Shows the player, but doesn't work. Doesn't give the error message though
        Google Chrome 2.0.172: Same as Opera "You must have an HTML5 capable browser."
        Google Chrome 3.0.195.6 (latest beta): All player controls work except full screen and the thingie on the right hand side, but none of the "more from" or "related videos" links work at all.
        Internet Explorer 8: Only shows the controls for the player, "Done, but with errors on page"
        Apple Safari 4.0.3: Can play the video (yay), but nothing else works. Doesn't show the time played or remaining, doesn't move the time indicator, none of the "more from" or "related videos" links work at all.

        I've no idea if the issue is with YouTube or with the browsers, but ... it's really not impressive. I installed the latest Chrome beta just to see if that made everything work like it should on that page, and it still doesn't.

        I've no doubt that it will work eventually, but for now, I wouldn't use that site as an of course it works, just look at this example.

        • Firefox doesn't show the video because it doesn't support H264. It's funny, because if you have a plugin for the H264 format installed, it still doesn't show the video. But if you right-click on it and select "Show video" from the menu, it opens it in a new window, where it is playing just fine.

          • by Lennie (16154)
            I think someone should make a bugreport.

            Heck, I'll do it now, if it isn't.

            restarting slow downloads could also use some improvement, I'll do the same for that.
            • I'm not sure if that's worth a bug report. A video tag is different from a plugin, which is for some kind of unknown object. The plugin has it's own controls, which Mozilla can't hide, and also Mozilla can't control the playback inside of it, so the plugin _can't_ be utilized for the video tag, as much as I wish it could.

              My anecdote might be interesting and funny, but it isn't fixable. Unless, of course, there are changes in the plugin architecture (adding support for video plugins) and (or) in the plugins

              • A video tag is different from a plugin,

                Indeed, but at the same time...

                On Windows, you have DirectShow. On OS X, you have QuickTime. On Linux, you have gstreamer, or if you want something even more meta, phonon.

                If this is too much to ask, I would expect someone to add some sort of extension (or just fork Firefox) and wrap up VLC's video support. Obviously, Mozilla can't do this themselves (licensing issues), but it technically can be done.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by moon3 (1530265)
      Theora is relatively new, recently matured format still under heavy development so people are in waiting mode, they will switch as soon as the format bested the competing H264, if this format outperforms competition in a sense that the bit-rate is better for given quality then lot of people will turn their heads as bandwidth is money these days, this however must happen in concord with the video tag adoption and hardware acceleration support otherwise it really is not very viable format even for the near fu
      • But what's the advantage as a content provider for me to re-encode everything so it only works in Firefox and Chrome?

  • How do you subtitle ogg material. Without it, it does not have the relevance it could have. Thanks, GerardM

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @02:39AM (#29153949)

    The main problem with Theora, is that it is clearly technically inferior.
    For instance, Vorbis generates comparable or better quality than MP3 of the same size, so it has a hope to be pushed. Theora doesn't.

  • Try finding video editing software which can edit (not commandline like ffmpeg, I'm talking gui After Effects style) a Theora file.

    Even on Linux where you would think ogg would be strongest is horrible in the ability to edit ogg files. I do screen captures from time to time and recordmydesktop only saves out ogg (ogv in later versions) files of the captures. I constantly have to run ffmpeg on the files and spit them out as png image sequences.

    Outside the technical merits I don't know how you can exp
    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @04:28AM (#29154255) Journal

      Try finding video editing software which can edit (not commandline like ffmpeg, I'm talking gui After Effects style) a Theora file.

      I've never used After Effects so I'm not sure what features it has. However, if you want a GUI editor which can handle theora files, then try LiVES. It's rather better (in features & interface) than avidemux or kdenlive, neither of which can handle theora. It's cross-platform OSS for BSD-Linux-Mac-Windows.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LiVES [wikipedia.org] http://lives.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      Well you wouldn't edit in your delivery format, ordinarily. Even H.264 isn't really a source format, it's just what you encode into when your project is done and you want to put it on the web. Mpeg2 if you are going to DVD, HDV if your dumping to a DV tape and so on.

      While it's possible to edit formats like H.264 or Theora, it's not really ideal.

      • by jo_ham (604554)

        Edit: I should have added that some current "edit" formats are based on H.264 and Mpeg2 - HDV and XDCAM HD, for example, are both based on MPEG2 and you can edit them natively with certain software (Final Cut Pro, for example). I wouldn't like to edit an MPEG2 clip that had been encoded for DVD, however, although it is possible.

    • Why is this relevant to Theora adoption? If you want to produce professional-looking Theora, install the Theora QuickTime plugin on a Mac and then you can export directly from Final Cut Pro. Presumably the same thing applies with the DirectShow plugin and After Effects on Windows if you're forced to use that.
    • by Psyborgue (699890)
      You generally don't want to edit temporally compressed video. DV, for example, is a spatial codec. The problem is editing within the GOP (group of pictures). If you access a given frame it has to calculate not just that frame, but all the frames around it going back all the way to the I frame (keyframe). This is further complicated with h264 where b frames are used as reference frames (references of references). It's too much work for your cpu/gpu when you're dealing with multiple video streams at the
  • by gig (78408) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @07:54AM (#29154755)

    Audio standardization is not only bigger than the Web, it's older, and it's MUCH more successful than any Web standardization to date, including HTML 5, which is still only 35% of desktops and 90% of mobiles.

    I think until the Web development community actually creates and follows even just one of their own standards (maybe HTML 5 will be the one), browser makers and other principals should STFU about audio video standardization, which has been highly successful for 30 years.

    During the 21st century thus far, you can't make one fucking Web page for all browsers. But the same ISO MPEG-4 audio video plays in both Adobe Flash and QuickTime Player; both iTunes and YouTube; both iPod and Blu-Ray; both iPhone and Blackberry. Camcorders from Sony and Kodak make the same MPEG-4 video format. Editors from Adobe and Apple edit and export the same MPEG-4 video format. Both NVIDIA and AMD GPU's have ISO MPEG-4 H.264/AAC decoders in them. There are MPEG-4 players from literally hundreds of manufacturers.

    But consider that Linux and Windows can't play all of that audio video, and so we invoke Flash in a Web page, bring in a proprietary app with questionable security context and crashy history and also it changed owners twice already, just so we can make everyday standard audio video work in Linux and Windows!

    And during the 21st century thus far, HTML has been static. The object tag bullshit from 2008 is the same object tag bullshit I used in 1998. The W3C and browser makers have contributed almost nothing to audio and video in the entire history of the Web. If not for the fact Tim Berners-Lee created the Web on a NeXT system that had 8-bit audio, maybe the Web would not have had audio at all from the beginning. The Web is turning 20 and still no consumer level audio, never mind pro audio. I produce music ... how can I express a 5 minute 24-track 24-bit 192kHz song made up of hundreds of synchronized audio clips in HTML so I can store it for posterity? You guys are not even getting started with what needs to be done with audio and video on the Web. And while HTML did nothing over the past 10 years, we got RSS and then podcasts, which are filled with ISO MPEG-4 audio video. Even MSNBC.com is MPEG-4 since podcasts, no more Windows Media. Set-top boxes with MPEG-4 decoders in them are downloading podcasts. These podcasts are viewable already in browsers. The browser today is interacting with a metric shitload of MPEG-4, but it's leaving it all to Flash and then ironically, the browser vendors complain that Flash crashes their browser! Incredible.

    Think about the fact that Microsoft could not break MPEG-4 standardization in spite of using Windows and Internet Explorer to push Windows Media. That was years ago when MPEG-2 was changing over to MPEG-4. How is Firefox going to do it now, when all the media is MPEG-4 already?

    Understand that music and movie makers are creating content for MPEG-4 in the way they used to make CD and DVD. Authoring tools have had MPEG-4 export for many years, it's extremely old news. And music and movies are not tolerant of format wars. The margins are too low. Most music albums and movies don't make money. A format war kills all the smaller artists who can't double up their production costs to make 2 products. Broken audio video standardization breaks artists. The media that is on iPod and YouTube and Blu-Ray is what is going to be on the Web servers. If Mozilla can't play it then Flash will be invoked perpetually. That is all Flash is used for now it seems, is to wrap MPEG-4 up to make it Linux and Windows safe.

    Further, this is all political because there is no technical substitute for MPEG-4 that pleases Mozilla. Ogg is offered, but Google has already said that an Ogg YouTube would require more bandwidth than currently exists in the world today. Are you telling me that YouTube is not part of the World Wide Web? Ogg on iPod would get you one quarter battery life because there are no Ogg decoder chips. Should the audio from the Web not play on iPods

    • by Psyborgue (699890)
      The point you're missing is that since x264 is a closed format the Mozilla foundation can't include it in their browser because of the patent fees and so forth. It's not idealism of open v. closed. It's just the situation required by the stupidity of US patent law. If the US didn't recognize software patents i'm sure the Mozilla foundation would quickly integrate the x264 project as an h264 excoder/decoder into their browser. Personally I think the answer is to define a video tag like an image tag and l
    • by Ant P. (974313)

      how can I express a 5 minute 24-track 24-bit 192kHz song made up of hundreds of synchronized audio clips in HTML so I can store it for posterity?

      First tell me how I can write a message board in WAV format?

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