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YouTube, HTML5, and Comparing H.264 With Theora

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the quality-vs-bandwidth dept.

Graphics 361

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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Theora FAIL (5, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328463)

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 (5, Interesting)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Theora FAIL (0, Flamebait)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328663)

I expect IE will have support for flash video (via a plugin from adobe) and silverlight. If they are feeling really generous, they will add support for wmv.

Re:Theora FAIL (2, Interesting)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328751)

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 (5, Interesting)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 (5, Interesting)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328959)

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.

Re:Theora FAIL (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329277)

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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329007)

Silverlight doesn't have bitstream decoding of H.264 and VC-1.

MS won't require Silverlight. Too easy. (1)

iYk6 (1425255) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329041)

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 much more their style.

Re:MS won't require Silverlight. Too easy. (3, Insightful)

hplus (1310833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329211)

Why would they install another browser when they could just click the "Click here to install silverlight and watch this video" button?

Re:MS won't require Silverlight. Too easy. (2, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329491)

Why would they do that when they could just make it an "urgent system security update" in the first place?

Re:Theora FAIL (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329485)

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 (4, Interesting)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329195)

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.

Re:Theora FAIL (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328721)

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.

Re:Theora FAIL (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329159)

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.

The Failure Of Linux,Open Source And Slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28328777)

This absolutely embarrassing Slashdot episode is perfect example of the failure of the open source community.

Over ten years it's been that Linux and its community has moved from being a tiny niche OS to today where it is attempting to be a mainstream desktop operating system for the broad consumer market.

Ten years of rah-rah cheerleading instead of cold hard critics and honest reporting of open source software vs commercial competitors.

Ten years of this site being nothing more than one big +5 Insightful circle jerk within the open source community.

Isn't it time for the open source community to grow the fuck up?

Time for the open source community to finally give those stupid little +5 Insightful and Funny replies like "did you submit a patch?" "well I LIKE the baby shit brown Ubuntu colour scheme" "teh power of choice!" "works for me" and on and on and on with the bullshit.

Linux, open source, and Slashdot are the laughing stock of the computing world for exactly crap like this x246 bullshit.

Writing commercial grade consumer level software is HARD. Spouting bullshit on Slashdot is not a substitute for the arduous and time consuming process of getting software to that level.

 

Re:Theora FAIL (2)

wgoodman (1109297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328899)

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?

David Gerard (0)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329129)

Well, David Gerard is a well known Wikipedian blowhard who thinks IT tradesmen are among the most cultured, objective intellectuals today. He'll probably get a round of back-pats from Jimmy Wales and the other Wikipedia admin cronies for the amazing achievement of getting a story FP'd on Slashdot. This is quite a high for him.

Hat's off to you, I was wrong. (0, Offtopic)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329281)

You sir, knocked my socks clean off. I had previously flagged you as a foe because I thought you were a world class prick, but you actually stood up and called "bullshit" for what it was. I'd like to add to your fine observations.

Everyone take an extra look at the submission. Specifically, David Gerard [encycloped...matica.com] . Notice the spin he adds by using "hideously encumbered". Sleazy, huh? Wonder where he learned that trick? Turns out David is good friends with Roy Schestowitz and Twitter, all of whom regularly contribue to everyone's favorite flame-bait website, BoycottNovell. Fine, honest folks there. What's worse, when David isn't advertising his websites on Slashdot with wanna-be Onion News articles, he's a regular editor on Wikipedia.

x264 sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329463)

and a specific H.264 encoder (x264) which is NOT the best encoder around

So what do you recommend as a superior alternative to x264? I'm under the impression, after using x264 for years and years, that it's definitely the best current implementation of the h.264 spec available today.
I am actually a little aghast at the possibility that a better h264 encoder has been let loose and nobody in the scene knows about it yet.. suggestions welcome of course.

This is the last thing Google needs... (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328465)

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." They're losing a pretty penny on YouTube. The ad revenue can't keep up with the costs it takes to run YouTube (servers, bandwidth, staff ect). Why

Re:This is the last thing Google needs... (1)

XPeter (1429763) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328493)

Damn the enter key. Continuing what I was saying... Why would Google want to spend MORE by adopting HTML5? This means more bandwidth, more servers, more staff. It's obvious Google isn't shy of cash but this isn't smart in a failing economy.

Re:This is the last thing Google needs... (1)

rfdparker2002 (1192421) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328625)

Probably because Google seem to love HTML5 (look at Wave or their new Android/iPhone web based apps). But certainly they should take the Ogg Theora route, then if it can be pushed back into the HTML5 standard again, we might eventually be able to get Ogg Theora support in IE, and then maybe Ogg Theora and Vorbis support in Windows itself (as MS would probably embed their media player).

Maybe it's about the encoder, too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28328479)

I've never utilized Ogg/Theora+Vorbis, but I know that there are hardware-accelerated encoders for H264/x264 (right?)

That'd make it a lot easier/cheaper/faster to encode videos for Google Video/Youtube, and you'd have the browser that can play them back right there...

(Just speculation here... :D)

Decoding Chips (4, Interesting)

chonglibloodsport (1270740) | more than 5 years ago | (#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?

Re:Decoding Chips (2)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328637)

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

$.

Re:Decoding Chips (2, Informative)

faragon (789704) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328829)

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.

Re:Decoding Chips (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329075)

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

Re:Decoding Chips (1)

faragon (789704) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329155)

It is not a problem for Google.

Re:Decoding Chips (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329217)

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.

Re:Decoding Chips (1)

faragon (789704) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329307)

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 (3, Informative)

benwaggoner (513209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329089)

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.

Re:Decoding Chips (1)

faragon (789704) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329187)

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.

Re:Decoding Chips (1)

chonglibloodsport (1270740) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329483)

I doubt it. The SIMD extensions on ARM chips are far less powerful than desktop equivalents.

We're talking about chips that are a pretty small fraction of the speed of desktop chips and only one core.

Re:Decoding Chips (1)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329229)

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.

repeat of ogg? (3, Interesting)

jd142 (129673) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328529)

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? (3, Insightful)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328581)

Any chance we can blame Slashdot for VHS too?

Re:repeat of ogg? (1, Informative)

Egdiroh (1086111) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328649)

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? (5, Insightful)

jd142 (129673) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328873)

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.

Re:repeat of ogg? (1)

vivaelamor (1418031) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329083)

Woosh. The unsaid words in my post were 'the prevalence of'. Context is everything unless you presume everyone is an idiot.

Re:repeat of ogg? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328759)

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 (3, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328825)

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:repeat of ogg? (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328831)

What about HD-DVD?

Re:repeat of ogg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28328919)

They say that VHS won out over Betamax mostly due to porn, so I'd say it's probably the same group of people...

Re:repeat of ogg? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328643)

I've always been pretty skeptical of ogg (Vorbis...) actually catching on, and I'm pretty sure I have said so (my two big data points were the mp3s I had and Apple's complete failure to notice it).

Re:repeat of ogg? (3, Informative)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328693)

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.

Who carries Cowon? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329327)

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?

Re:repeat of ogg? (4, Informative)

nxtw (866177) | more than 5 years ago | (#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? (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328869)

But AAC and WMA have DRM capabilities, I don't think Ogg can, or MP3, making AAC and WMA a higher standard for things that are sold.

Re:repeat of ogg? (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328957)

But AAC and WMA have DRM capabilities, I don't think Ogg can, or MP3, making AAC and WMA a higher standard for things that are sold.

If someone was interested in using Vorbis, they could implement their own DRM container or adapt another to work with Vorbis. I don't think AAC itself has DRM capability; Apple implemented it on their own.

Re:repeat of ogg? (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329053)

Who the hell would want to use DRM on a fully open format? It doesn't make sense.
The only thing that makes DRM work is the fact it's closed.

Re:repeat of ogg? (1)

nxtw (866177) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329255)

Who the hell would want to use DRM on a fully open format? It doesn't make sense.
The only thing that makes DRM work is the fact it's closed.

DRM is a way of controlling access to an encrypted bitstream. It doesn't matter so much what the format is inside. The main difference between something like AAC and Vorbis is that Vorbis is believed to be unencumbered by any known patents and has an easily found and freely available specification. AAC is an ISO/IEC standard and has open-source encoders and decoders available (although I'm not sure if the open-source encoders are as good as others.)

Re:repeat of ogg? (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329323)

Wanting DRM and having it thrown at you is different, and as Vorbis is an open format and if they did put any DRM in it would that DRM encryption scheme become open too. I do not know what license it has.

Re:repeat of ogg? (5, Informative)

iMacGuy (199233) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329409)

> 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.

Re:repeat of ogg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28328733)

If you're ripping them, you're probably breaking the law. Fair use is what the RIAA chooses, not what you choose.

Re:repeat of ogg? (2, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328745)

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? (3, Informative)

Bagels (676159) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:repeat of ogg? (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329013)

and it's used in tons of video games (precisely because it doesn't need to be licensed, I think)

And because a popular package used in games, http://www.radgametools.com/ [radgametools.com] , has very good support for ogg. So there is little reason why video games shouldn't use ogg. Better, cheaper and usable.

Re:repeat of ogg? (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329039)

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? (5, Informative)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#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. (2, Informative)

mjrauhal (144713) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329181)

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:repeat of ogg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28328781)

Now, 5 years later I have a large collection of ogg files that are essentially useless.

How are they useless? You can still play ogg files on all major desktop OS's, and if you're careful you can still get digital music players which support it. You're saving some disk space and CPU utilization over MP3's.

I can see being unable to easily share your music with friends as disadvantageous, but it doesn't make the ogg files *useless*.

Re:repeat of ogg? (2, Insightful)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328817)

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? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28328851)

Except in this case, it's not superior. It's just cheaper and "free". You can rail on about freedom and unencumbered all you like, but for end users it doesn't matter one whit. This isn't like DRM where they ultimately run into problems (can't copy files, licensing servers go poof, can't rip DVD's). No, all they see is that H.264 looks better, is compatible with all of their gear (used on computers, portable devices, Blu Ray, now YouTube), and plays a lot better due to hardware acceleration. Users can do whatever they please with it.

Theora lost a LONG time ago. This is just another nail in the coffin.

Re:repeat of ogg? (3, Insightful)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328943)

Bingo. Theora may be equally as good, but it's trying to supplant an already-established format. 'Equally as good' isn't good enough for that: You have to be noticeably better. And Theora isn't. It offers no major advantages, and would just give YouTube headaches, as it either tried to re-encode into a choice of formats, or had to explain to people how to play the videos.

The first of those costs money, the second costs viewers. I'd bet very few people would choose the Theora choice, making the money just wasted money. And YouTube lives on it's viewers: making their site any more complicated than 'click play' is just not acceptable.

It's not worth it. Theora doesn't have enough of a benefit.

Re:repeat of ogg? (5, Informative)

julian67 (1022593) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:repeat of ogg? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328895)

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 think you can blame the libertarian-leaning slashdot for promoting a world-view that is free-market oriented, especially when, at the time, there was not even a hint that Apple or anyone else would grow to such dominance.

You would probably disagree, but I think it is worth supporting free market standards with as much effort as we can, even if it means we lose sometimes. Because if we don't, we are probably going to lose all the time.

Re:repeat of ogg? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28328979)

Only 5 years ago, storage space was already cheap enough that you could have easily gone with FLAC, and your problems of today wouldn't exist.

Your problem isn't ogg -- your problem was choosing a lossy codec for archiving purposes (where only lossless makes sense).

rip as flac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329093)

You get a backup and you can transcode it to whatever you might ever need.

Re:repeat of ogg? (1)

cheftw (996831) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329243)

My ipod plays ogg, but I prefer FLAC.

Just because the guy across the road plays wmvz on his Zune doesn't make your music sound worse.

How often do you buy a new player anway? Every other year maybe?

Re:repeat of ogg? (2, Insightful)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329331)

What amuses me is the bias. The submitter wrote "hideously encumbered H.264 format." Hideously encumbered? Give me a break. It's as "encumbered" as MP3 is, and everybody uses MP3s.

Even Theora's developers say full H.264 edges out Theora [xiph.org] . We're just supposed to adopt Theora simply because it's not "encumbered." Well, outside the echo chamber, not a lot of people care about that. Not to mention that H.264 has hardware acceleration support.

G1 supports it (1)

bobetov (448774) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329389)

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.

"the equally good open format Ogg/Theora" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28328553)

Ahhh hahahah haaa!!! Good one!

Look at ThePirateBay (2, Insightful)

B4light (1144317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328691)

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.

Re:Look at ThePirateBay (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329071)

The problem with those codecs are patents. That is completely irrelevant to pirates.

Re:Look at ThePirateBay (0)

Jamie's Nightmare (1410247) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329385)

The problem with those codecs are patents. That is completely irrelevant to users .

That's a different situation (4, Informative)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329197)

Pirates have the advantage that they don't have to pay for patent licenses, so H.264 and Theora are both "free". But for law-abiding companies like Mozilla and Google, Theora is free and H.264 isn't.

Laziness or Ignorance? You decide (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28328699)

I have to go with Mike Shaver on this one. At the bitrates that youtube is advertising it's videos, it's nonsense to say Ogg theora videos would have to be excessively larger. Loking at Shaver's examples and methodology I think DiBona must have been misinformed about Ogg theora.

I also have to agree with Shaver that for all intents and purposes, Google currently *is* the video king, and what Google says, is what goes. It would be disappointing of google to give some lame excuse and not do the right thing. Whatever happened to that motto of theirs, "Do no evil"? There is no reason at the current bitrates to choose a patent encumbered standard over a Free standard.

Re:Laziness or Ignorance? You decide (3, Informative)

benwaggoner (513209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329221)

Reread Shaver's methadology:

A keyframe interval of 250 frames was used for the Theora encoding.

10 seconds is absurdly short for any kind of codec test. That's almost as long as the buffer would be, and current Thusndela builds don't include full buffer management. Plus he picked a pretty low motion section of the clip. He should the full clip. Current Theora builds are plenty fast; it'd be faster than realtime on a laptop.

In a real codec compare, CBR is often the best way to see differences between codecs and implementations, since that's where rate distortion really shows its stuff. How well a codec can preserve quality with high motion in a fixed buffer is a key differentiatior.

That said, I believe that the Theora+Vorbis results are substantially better than the YouTube 327kbit/sec. Several other people have expressed the same view to me, and I expect you'll also reach the same conclusion. This is unsurprising since we've been telling people that Theora is better than H.263

His primary quality comparison is between Theora and H.263, not H.264. H.263 is even older than VP3 which Theora is based on. As to H.264 he says:

In the case of the 499kbit/sec H.264 I believe that under careful comparison many people would prefer the H.264 video.

Yep. And it would be a huge differential if he'd picked a more challenging section of the source.

And while it doesn't have any impact on the comparison, no compressionist would use those frame sizes. We always try to round to the nearest mod16 value, so that we have macroblock alignment.

Thus 480x272 and 400x224 would be more efficient choices in both cases. 400x226 is particulary egregious, as it means the codec is really encoding at 400x240 internally with 14 lines of padding.

Somebody explain to me why HTML5 != evil (1, Insightful)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328755)

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:Somebody explain to me why HTML5 != evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28328879)

For once, because Gears cannot possibly be the "main thing" for HTML5 -- as it's another set of APIs !.. In fact, quite a few HTML5 APIs are inspired by Gears APIs. It also cannot be a platform lock-in when multiple browsers (Mozilla, Safari, Chrome, Opera) _do_ implement those HTML5 APIs, can it ? HTML5 is just a tad bit more things than the video tag...

Re:Somebody explain to me why HTML5 != evil (3, Interesting)

moogord (904702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328909)

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:Somebody explain to me why HTML5 != evil (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329021)

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 to specify science-fiction, but something that real browsers and real websites use, that's why there's a lot of "working backwards" from actual needs and implementations.

Re:Somebody explain to me why HTML5 != evil (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329261)

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.

Stupid stupid stupid... (2, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328771)

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 a great way to drive support for a web where all browsers get to compete on a level playing field.</sarcasm>

Re:Stupid stupid stupid... (3, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328987)

Are those sarcasm tags part of the HTML5 standard?

Re:Stupid stupid stupid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329057)

BUT ITS NOT AS FREEE1111111!!!11!111!!1

Fucking irrational freetards.

Re:Stupid stupid stupid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329361)

fucking irrational freedom haters.. always thinking others know what's best for them.

Re:Stupid stupid stupid... (5, Insightful)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Google has a huge problem on its hands... (0, Offtopic)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328839)

If they don't start focusing on their core search. Just because Microsoft has bumbled in search for the last ten years doesn't mean that they won't get it right. They are clearly patient and willing to keep the assault up, and even if you do not like Bing, it is a huge step in the right direction for MS, and honestly, having played with it, I think Bing is better than what Google does in some ways.

Re:Google has a huge problem on its hands... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329009)

Did you think Live was worth two shits? Bing is just the marketing department deciding to relabel the latest release of Live. It's still useless, it just has a new coat of paint on it. Whoopie.

Google has enough resources to continue working on search while toying with all these side ideas. I still get more relevant results out of their search than out of the competition. Besides, they're an advertising agency, not a search engine. The true brilliance of their marketing and advertising is that you think they're a search company. Microsoft hasn't even begun to get the advertising market. If Google lost the edge in search to MS tomorrow, they'd still be in business by virtue of their ad business.

Re:Google has a huge problem on its hands... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329209)

This is precisely a way to do this. Getting video to work in pure HTML breaks one of Flash's main pillars, the primacy on online video. What Google gains from this? Google's recommendation algorithms cannot parse Flash content, but they are top at HTML.

In other words: Knocking Flash and Silverlight down a rung makes Google's targeted advertisement business much safer. Because financially, Google is NOT a search company, it's an advertising service.

Google and Firefox (0)

turgid (580780) | more than 5 years ago | (#28328905)

Why would google care about firefox and other Free/Open Source browsers? After all, google has its own browser [google.com] now to take on the likes of IE.

Google is the biggest influence on the Internet these days, and is positioning itself to take over completely. Google is the new Microsoft.

"Do no evil" my foot! Look out, here comes a new monopoly.

Google cares as much about Firefox, Opera, Konqueror, Seamonkey, Amaya, lynx, links, and so on only as long as it still has a competitor. As TFAs all say, Google owns virtually all internet video so it has no competitor.

Re:Google and Firefox (3, Informative)

selven (1556643) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329031)

Stop misquoting the motto! It's "don't be evil", not "do no evil". Google is just saying that they don't intend to screw over their own customers, not that they intend to become the moral custodian of justice for the entire world.

Re:Google and Firefox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329343)

Evil is what evil does. So yes, "Don't be evil" does mean "Do no evil".

But there is also far too many people who attribute to malice what can adequatly be explained by stupidity. :)

h.264 will be in hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28328973)

h.264 decoding will increasingly be in hardware, and the patent royalties will be paid by the hardware manufacturer. h.264 is an open standard, albeit you have to pay money for it, but if it is in hardware, one does not have to worry about acquiring a software decoder.

In making html 5, the ISPs were opposed to ogg vorbis, as it would require more bandwidth (money) than h.264.

hardware acceleration (1)

codename.matrix (889422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329061)

Isn't h.264 the only one of those two that has hardware acceleration. When you want to deliver high quality video on a website for many and even smaller devices it makes a lot of sense to use the format that can be decoded by available hardware decoders. Modern mobile phones can decode h264 in hardware, so can even low-end CPU Netbooks. H264 sounds like the obvious choice for internet video to me.

Oh FFS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28329231)

For crying out loud, Oggfags, STFU. I am so not interested in your stupid little format. This is exactly the kind of OSS whining that makes Linux so unappealing.

This crap is like anime. I love the product, generally speaking. I hate HATE HATE HATE HATE the others who love the product.

If Ogg were awesome, it would stand on its own. It is not, and thus it does not.

Boo effing hell damn hoo. Too bad, so sad. Play harder next time.

" what the heck Google thinks it's doing." (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 5 years ago | (#28329311)

That's easy.

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

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