Open Video

Just the other day I was complaining that Ogg Theora/Vorbis hasn’t really proven itself and achieved market penetration to the point where people will still care about it in several years. My concern with less popular file formats is that data is lost forever if future computing can’t view it. Popularity, while it may not be fair does help encourage it. For example I can still open up old WordPerfect files easier than I can Professional Write files (trip down memory lane anyone?)

I’m thrilled to see a push for open video. Better encoders and decoders along with working with the Wikimedia Foundation (Wikipedia’s use of Theora can be very influential) will hopefully provide a boost for these formats which tends to be a cyclical trend once it gains momentum.

6 thoughts on “Open Video

  1. Honestly speaking FF as the most popular open source project gave a new breath of hope for the Ogg Theora/Vorbis the next challenge is to persuade more major content providers like Wikimedia to embrace the format. It’s a first step to a long journey and I hope Theora will follow a fast and steady pace towards mainstream adoption.

  2. Just a guess of course, since what do I know about video…

    The problem really comes down to quality and patents – this is an older video codec that was put into open source. Serious kudos to on2 for putting vp3 into this. While it was good when it first came out lots of things have changed in the subsequent years (on2 is on vp8 now).

    You’d have to run some real tests, but I’d wager that a h264 file at half of the bit rate will look ‘better’. If you can really afford the quality/bit rate trade off great – most can not.

  3. I’m ecstatic with everyone else with Mozilla’s native support of Ogg.

    I’m curious recently about how open the FLV format is (and how much better of an encoding format it is). I hadn’t realized Adobe opened the format (at least claims to) last year.
    http://www.openscreenproject.org/

    Do you know, in theory, what the blocking issues are for Firefox supporting FLV natively?

  4. @sky: FLV is a container format and the specs are open. Unfortunately almost all FLV’s are use the VP6 codec, which is patented by On2 Technologies and not open.

    So supporting FLV natively really doesn’t get us very far. It would actually break compatibility since Adobe Flash player only supports h.264 and VP6. If you implemented Theora in FLV it still wouldn’t work in Flash, so you’d have issues there.

  5. It seems to me that the solution is obvious: one of the foundations should buy out On2 Technologies, then release all their codecs under free/open licenses. On2 Technologies is a small, publicly-traded company. How much could it possibly cost?

    By “one of the foundations,” I mean the Mozilla Foundation, the WikiMedia Foundation, Creative Commons, or similar.

    It’s no secret that the Mozilla Foundation has a lot of money (thanks to that Google search box in the top right corner of Firefox). Why are they wasting their time dribbling out a $100,000 grant for Ogg Theora improvements (VP3) when they could own VP8?

  6. @Mr Obvious: That’s a lot of money for something that will be old technology and copied by other in 18 months. Video tech moves to fast. Not to mention there’s possibly lots of little caveats in their technology licensing giving exclusivity and other treats. Owning VP8 in a matter of months will be no different than owning VP6. Still need to keep advancing the technology. Might as well just use the cash to start building rather than buy a company.

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