Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Concrete Comparisons of Theora Vs. Mpeg-4

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the good-use-for-that-beta-you-downloaded dept.

Graphics 325

icknay writes "With the upcoming Firefox 3.5 and HTML5 video, there's natural interest in Theora vs. Mpeg-4, but without much evidence either way. Here's clips encoded at various rates to provide concrete comparison between Theora and Mpeg-4. Theora performs decently, but requires more bandwidth than Mpeg-4 (although this is a 1.1alpha release of Theora and Theora has a much better license than Mpeg-4). The quality comparisons are very subjective, but you can try the clips yourself and see how it breaks down. There was an earlier discussion about this, but it lacked much concrete evidence. (Disclosure: it's my page.)"

cancel ×

325 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

My results (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28425805)

Both make terrible concrete. I recommend you buy some mix at the hardware store instead.

Re:My results (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28425887)

In before concrete vs cement.

Theora sucks a nut (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28425913)

Theora just isn't ready for web video yet. It may be ready for the web servers that you nerds use to distribute your on your web-sights TRON and Dungeons and Dragons fan films across the world wide web, but the average computer user isn't going to spend months learning how to use a CLI and then hours compiling packages so that they can encode videos with Theora, especially not when they already have a encoder frontend like MeGUI that does its job perfectly well and uses a codec that is backed by major corporations and has hardware support in their stsandalone Blu-Ray players, their PS3, and XBox 360s, as opposed to Theora which is only supported by a few unemployed nerds living in their mother's basement somewhere and has to be run with some arcane CLI media player. The last thing I want is a level 5 dwarf (haha) providing me my codecs.

Re:Theora sucks a nut (3, Insightful)

hh4m (1549861) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426015)

dude... get with the program... its all about streaming now... THEY encode, u stream n watch...

Re:Theora sucks a nut (2, Informative)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426039)

"but the average computer user isn't going to spend months learning how to use a CLI and then hours compiling packages so that they can encode videos with Theora"

HUH?

There are plenty of visual apps to do this, no need for cli and whatnot....

Re:Theora sucks a nut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426139)

You must be new here.

Re:Theora sucks a nut (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426865)

If you don't get it then make sure you are reading at +1 and above. Otherwise you will just hurt your little head.

Re:Theora sucks a nut (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426043)

So, can you tell us how you really feel about Theora?

Porn Industry (3, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426345)

Let the porn industry sort it out.

Seeing as they are the only people that actually make real money on the web, we can count on them to pick the most cost effective and highest quality video technology.

Re:Porn Industry (2, Insightful)

SchizoStatic (1413201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426485)

They picked HD-DVD.....

Re:Porn Industry (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426661)

OK, I mean then with respect to the web.

Re:Porn Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426957)

And they were right. Technically...

Re:Porn Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426501)

You pay for porn?

Re:My results (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426411)

We should next compare black cocks to white cocks, and see which one most women prefer. Personally, I'd prefer a nice hard, throbbing black dick ramming me up my ass and then taking it out and shoving in deep down my throat, slobbering all over that meaty treat. God, my tiny pencil dick is hard, a full 2.5 inches!

Disclosure (5, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 5 years ago | (#28425877)

Disclosure: I'm trying to stress test my server. Please nuke it into the slag of its constituent parts.

Three "errors" in this test (5, Informative)

YA_Python_dev (885173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426457)

There are three things that this test doesn't consider:

  1. for the same bitrate (1000 kbit/s) the Mpeg-4 file is 5.2% bigger than the Ogg one;
  2. nobody uses video alone like in this test, there's always audio and the audio codec associated with Theora (Vorbis) rocks: same quality as MP3 for half the bitrate. Bits saved on the sound can be used to improve the video; and, yes, it is apples-to-apples comparing the overall bitrate of Ogg/Theora+Vorbis against an all-Mpeg-4 solution.
  3. but the most important detail is that they used a constant average bitrate encoding with Theora, which is known to give inferior results for the same bitrate to simply setting the quality to match the desired bitrate.

For real life examples, that also include sound see "YouTube / Ogg/Theora comparison" [xiph.org] and "Another online-video comparison" [xiph.org] .

Re:Three "errors" in this test (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426803)

What is it with you people that you want Ogg to be better than any other codec?
Isn't it sufficient to say: "The difference is insignificant, but since Ogg has a better license and readily available code, use that"?

Most people will not care what is better by 0.3%, you are making yourself a target to FUD of the sort "experts do not agree yet ... best to buy ours!"

Re:Three "errors" in this test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426875)

It really doesn't matter - the codec that will be used is the one that is installed on most machines. Is that theora? Not likely. People are finally starting to learn that when asked to install some "codec" that it probably comes with malware - so they aren't going to install it.

Re:Three "errors" in this test (3, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28427003)

If the codec is included with their browser, that won't be a problem.

Re:Three "errors" in this test (2, Interesting)

broken_chaos (1188549) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426989)

He claimed OGG is twice as good as MP3 is, not even 0.3%... Nevermind that MP3 doesn't even enter the equation when comparing H.264 to Theora (both because H.264 is typically paired with AAC audio and the video quality is the important question here, given the comparatively small size of audio), but that's also a blatant lie. You won't get double the quality out of OGG or AAC when compared to MP3, no way.

Surprisingly different (4, Informative)

spud603 (832173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28425901)

I sort of knew Theora was a bit behind than Mpeg-4, but I didn't realize by how much. The Theora clip that has a 60% higher bitrate than the Mpeg-4 still looks fuzzier to my eyes (especially the moving grass).

Re:Surprisingly different (5, Informative)

stdarg (456557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28425987)

I noticed in the last discussion that Theora does better when you take a single frame and look. It seems to have a lot more details. However, it's apparent in the clips that the detail comes at the expense of smoothness between frames. If you watch the background it's jumping around a lot, making it look fuzzy, presumably as Theora tries to preserve various details.

Re:Surprisingly different (2, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426207)

I bet they get that somewhat figured out, as it should lead to better compression too.

Re:Surprisingly different (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426675)

I noticed in the last discussion that Theora does better when you take a single frame and look. It seems to have a lot more details.

Indeed. Just look at the first frame of the soccer vid. In the MPEG-4 version you can't make out the ear from the guy on the left and the pattern on the ball is completely gone. Not with Theora.

Re:Surprisingly different (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426077)

I sort of knew Theora was a bit behind than Mpeg-4, but I didn't realize by how much.

YEAH BUT IT'S OPEN SORES SO IT'S BETTER

Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426135)

I've asked this every time this topic comes up. Can anyone name a SINGLE piece of open source software that does anything better than it's closest closed source (or otherwise "proprietary" via patents or whatever) counterpart?

Nope, you cannot.

Open Source should join the waterfall model and the "man month" on the scrap heap of failed faddy software development methodologies. It has literally nothing going for it.

This post was written on a Mac, a product from a company PROUDLY providing closed source innovation since the dawn of the modern computer era!

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426205)

gnome-terminal is better than windows command prompt.

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (1)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426783)

Ah, but is it better than Powershell... because objects are so much cooler to pipe around than characters!

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426255)

Firefox? Chrome? Blender?

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426319)

Firefox is a slow, bloated piece of crap that fails in comparison to Chrome or Safari.

Chrome falls into the "proprietary or whatever" category because it's made by Google. Basically, open source projects that weren't initiated by a commercial vendor suck.

Blender is a joke compared to commercial software in that field.

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (2, Informative)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426499)

I hope you realize that Firefox was initiated by Mozilla, or did they finish the full frontal lobotomy after your first post?
Apache, lighthttpd, vsftpd, squid
Linux , bsd, darwin kernels
mythtv
vim/emacs/nano
mysql/PostgreSQL
GCC/llvm

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (3, Insightful)

kthejoker (931838) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426561)

I don't want to disagree with your overall point or start a flame war, but really, putting MySQL up against Oracle/MSSQL?

C'mon.

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426529)

Hmm... I'd argue with you, but you're probably the sort of person who, if I suggest GIMP, will scream that it's worthless because it doesn't support 16-bit channels. It's not worth my time...

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (2, Insightful)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426541)

Firefox is a slow, bloated piece of crap that fails in comparison to Chrome or Safari.

Chrome falls into the "proprietary or whatever" category because it's made by Google. Basically, open source projects that weren't initiated by a commercial vendor suck.

Blender is a joke compared to commercial software in that field.

"I've asked this every time this topic comes up. Can anyone name a SINGLE piece of open source software that does anything better than it's closest closed source (or otherwise "proprietary" via patents or whatever) counterpart?"

FF's closest counterpart is clearly IE, considering marketshare, and FF is certainly better than IE. In terms of memory usage, FF beats Chrome and Safari. In terms of page loading times, nothing beats FF + Adblock Plus. You dismissed Chrome, yourself, and the only things Safari does better than FF is 1) display advertisements and 2) run javascript.

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (1)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426829)

Just an FYI: There's actually an Adblock plugin for Safari as well. I use both Firefox and Safari for different things- Firefox is better at anything that needs to stay open for long periods of time or do updates in the background; I find Safari faster for general browsing.

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (1)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426867)

Isn't FF + Adblock Plus comparison somewhat disingenious. Afterall, you aren't loading parts of the page, in some cases, the more difficult to display parts.

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426907)

No... that was the whole point.

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (2, Informative)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426767)

Chrome falls into the "proprietary or whatever" category because it's made by Google. Basically, open source projects that weren't initiated by a commercial vendor suck.

The rendering engine used by Chrome and Safari (webkit) wasn't made by any company. In fact, its origins are KHTML. the rendering engine used by KDE.

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (2, Informative)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426257)

Apache? An argument can be made for Firefox vs IE too. Yeh open source sucks so much that Apple built OS X from it.

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426289)

Except for the Apache webserver, I'm stumped.

Not coincidentally, most IT shops never consider Linux for anything outside of webserving.

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (1, Flamebait)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426447)

...or hosting databases: mysql or Oracle.

Obviously you are a desktop user pretending to know something about serious computing.

Linux unseated Solaris as the reference platform for Oracle.

You probably don't do anything interesting with desktop computing either.

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426925)

Hah, apparently you do so much 'serious computing' that you missed the news of a major industry merger a couple months ago...

Besides that has absolutely nothing to do with the "open source development methodology", which is total bullshit invented by ESR and promoted by freetards which generally do far less interesting things than me. maybe try your comment again with postgres

Re:Surprised? Don't be, it's open source. (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426629)

Samba v. Windows
Pidgin v. AOL Instant Messenger
Java v. .Net
JBoss v. Websphere
MySQL v. SQL Server
OpenWRT v. any proprietary consumer grade router
vim v. any other text editor
tinydns v. Microsoft DNS
postfix v. Microsoft Exchange Server

Re:Surprisingly different (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426265)

Theora is based on VP3, which is a generation older than MPEG-4. It's been improved a lot, but it's still old technology. Tarkin had a lot more potential, but a few years ago Theora was doing something and Tarkin was still mostly theoretical so the developers focussed on Theora. In hindsight, this may have been a mistake. Theora competes well with MPEG-2, but no one is using MPEG-2 for web distribution.

Longer term, Dirac looks more promising. It's comparable quality to H.264, is royalty-free, and has two open source implementations. Schroedinger, the newer one, is MIT licensed, and so can be use anywhere. Currently, the CPU load is too high for everyday use, however.

License (2, Interesting)

bonch (38532) | more than 5 years ago | (#28425959)

Theora has a much better license than Mpeg-4

So?

I'm serious. Can someone explain why this matters?

Re:License (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426151)

Because the submission was by a freetard. They don't understand that for most companies that will be using H.264 that the license fees are pretty much a non-issue versus the obvious quality issues and the lack of true professional support for a garbage format like Theora. Even at the highest end the royalty fees max out at a couple of million which for the biggest users of H.264 is pretty much a drop in the bucket.

Re:License (3, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426251)

The license is the single most important thing. It determines whether or not you can use the software at all, or for your specific purpose, whatever that is.

When we're talking about establishing a standard for the Web, which everybody is expected to be a) able and b) allowed to use, there is nothing more important than the license.

Re:License (2, Interesting)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426341)

The license is the single most important thing. It determines whether or not you can use the software at all, or for your specific purpose, whatever that is.

Actually the license has really no effect at all for the end user in either of these cases. The only people who are effected by the license are people who are either creating H.264 encoders/decoders or those who are creating and streaming H.264 content. And even the costs of running a website with over 1 million subscribers is only $100,000 a year and if you have that many subscribers and that much traffic $100,000 is nothing to you. And for most small sites (anything with less than 100,000 subscribers) you pay no royalties at all.

Re:License (2, Insightful)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426843)

The license is the single most important thing. It determines whether or not you can use the software at all, or for your specific purpose, whatever that is.

Actually the license has really no effect at all for the end user in either of these cases. The only people who are effected by the license are people who are either creating H.264 encoders/decoders or those who are creating and streaming H.264 content.

Which is everyone. The Web isn't just a TV, that's where it's power comes from. And lets not forget mashing, which requires encoders and decoders. If developers have to pay when writing this software, the software gets more expensive and content creation gets stiffled.

Re:License (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426393)

Not really. It's not as if no one can use licensed technologies on the internet. Most people do for most of the stuff they use, and don't care.

Re:License (3, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426463)

If you think the license is the most important thing, your perspective is skewed from too much time spent on Slashdot. MP3 is as "encumbered" as anything else, yet it's ubiquitous. The same will be true of H.264.

Re:License (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426625)

And it's encumbered in ways that affect how people can use it. For example, LAME (and various other MP3 stuff) isn't included in Debian or Ubuntu; people have to go out of their way and use non-standard, often unsupported repositories.

Re:License (2, Insightful)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426735)

And it's encumbered in ways that affect how people can use it. For example, LAME (and various other MP3 stuff) isn't included in Debian or Ubuntu; people have to go out of their way and use non-standard, often unsupported repositories.

emerge lame
How did I go out of my way?
Did I break the law?

Re:License (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426855)

The key phrase here being "in Debian or Ubuntu".

Subjective Measures (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28425991)

Subjective measures are really the best way to evaluate video quality. There are (objective) quantitative measures such as PSNR, but they don't really tell you what the impact of video compression does for the eye. Video quality evaluations mostly involve showing clips (like these) to a large amount of people and asking them which they liked better. There is a lot to consider in terms of how the video responds to packet loss, jitter, etc.

60% more bitrate for same quality (5, Informative)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426013)

The important line from the article: "Theora uses 1600kbps, or about 60% more bandwidth than Mpeg-4 to reach about the same quality."

Also useful to get some scale: "The uncompressed clip is 349 megabytes, while the 1600kbps Theora clip is 2 megabytes -- Theora may lag Mpeg-4 at this time, but it still yields great compression."

and "Theora is significantly better than Mpeg-2. Mpeg-2 required about 2400 kbps to hit the subjective quality level above, 50% higher than Theora's bandwidth."

Some things I would have liked to have seen: 250kbps, 500kbps, 2mbps, 8mbps videos, with subjective quality difference (rather than same subjective quality at different bitrates). Theora is apparently very good at lower bitrates, and not everybody has an awesome broadband connection, so they may be forced to watch lower-bitrate streams. Does the HTML5 video tag support selecting streams based upon available bandwidth?

Re:60% more bitrate for same quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426369)

If not, you should probably definitely submit a suggestion.

Re:60% more bitrate for same quality (1)

0xABADC0DA (867955) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426607)

The important line from the article: "Theora uses 1600kbps, or about 60% more bandwidth than Mpeg-4 to reach about the same quality."

I had to use the direct links, but noticed that the ogg version was 10% taller but the same contents. A skewing like this could easily explain bad perceived quality, did anybody else notice this or it is just my Firefox 3.5 beta on linux that's messed up?

Seems pretty clear to me (5, Insightful)

steveha (103154) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426025)

The situation seems pretty clear to me.

Theora is just not as good as H.264; you can get better quality with the same bits in H.264, or similar quality in fewer bits.

Theora is, however, good enough for general use for Internet video. It's at least as good as H.263, which actually has been used for years. (Breathless claims that Theora would need twice as many bits as H.264 are just silly.)

Since Theora is free in all ways, browsers can just build it in, and sites like Wikipedia are going to use it. Since H.264 is better, sites with money will pay the H.264 fees to save money on bandwidth. And, if I had a web business, I'd hesitate to paint myself into a corner with H.264; the patent owners have the power to jack up the royalties if they decide to.

In short, both Theora and H.264 will be found on the Internet in the near future. And we can all just get along.

(Now watch Theora fanboys and H.264 fanboys team up to mod this post down through the floor... :-)

P.S. Ogg Vorbis never toppled MP3 from the throne. However, the existence of Vorbis may have exerted some downward pressure on the licensing fees for the paid codecs. In a similar way, the existence of Theora may cause the patent holders for the other video formats to not try to charge quite as much.

steveha

Re:Seems pretty clear to me (2, Informative)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426219)

P.S. Ogg Vorbis never toppled MP3 from the throne. However, the existence of Vorbis may have exerted some downward pressure on the licensing fees for the paid codecs.

But it didn't. In actuality, the license costs for licensing MP3 has actually increased since the time that Vorbis was being initially designed in some cases by almost 25%.

Re:Seems pretty clear to me (2, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426631)

That doesn't necessarily prove that Vorbis didn't make a difference.

Re:Seems pretty clear to me (1)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426945)

That doesn't necessarily prove that Vorbis didn't make a difference.

Actually it does if the claim was that it made a difference by causing the MP3 license costs to go down. But since those fees for MP3 increased from what they were before Vorbis was released to the time after Vorbis has been released for years, it does prove that Vorbis has not "exerted some downward pressure on the licensing fees for the paid codecs". At least for the specific case of the mentioned MP3 codec.

Re:Seems pretty clear to me (3, Insightful)

wren337 (182018) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426555)

Ogg Vorbis died because it had a stupid name. Really, Ogg Vorbis? Or just "ogg" for short. You might as well have named it "Ugg". Or "blech".

Next time try something that doesn't sound like retching. Never underestimate the power of a really terrible name to kill a product.

Re:Seems pretty clear to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426887)

and MP3 is such a totally alluring name? people don't care what it's called as long as it's what they're used to.

Re:Seems pretty clear to me (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426877)

I am not a codec fanboy but I have to disagree.
Theora isn't as good as H.264. It will have a very had time becoming a standard and that is with good reason.
Now what I wonder is how does Dirac shape up? Way too many people only seem to care about Theora when there is another free video codec that may actually be better.

I thought Theora was GPL-ed? (1, Troll)

Klistvud (1574615) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426047)

If I were to choose between a proprietary, obfuscated, possibly patent-encumbered format and an open, free, community-geared format, I'd always choose the latter, without all that nitpicking about performance and technicalities. In the end, it all boils down to whose interests you want to support -- those of a patent holder who's gonna charge you every single time you watch a video, or your own.

On the other hand, consumers are strange and bewilderingly uninformed creatures. They rarely choose what's in their best interest (as shown by the mp3/ogg controversy, by the wide acceptance of DRM-ed content, and so on).

Re:I thought Theora was GPL-ed? (0, Troll)

Freetardo Jones (1574733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426249)

I thought Theora was GPL-ed?

Then you thought wrong. It's always been under a 3-clause BSD license just like Vorbis.

Re:I thought Theora was GPL-ed? (0, Redundant)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426305)

Why would you think Theora was GPL'd? It's from the Xiph foundation, and all of their code is BSD-licensed to encourage widespread adoption.

Re:I thought Theora was GPL-ed? (3, Informative)

Draek (916851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426381)

The reference implementation of Theora, like that of Vorbis is under a BSD-style license to help it gain wider adoption, so your point is valid even for propietary browser makers such as Opera.

Re:I thought Theora was GPL-ed? (0)

dave420 (699308) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426475)

They just don't care. They want what yields the best results, and don't really care about licensing. I can't really blame them.

Re:I thought Theora was GPL-ed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426493)

Hah, aren't you a total gnutard. Consumers are actually quite rational and choose the formats with the best device and software support. Thedora is DOA for the exact same reason windows media and that other vendor-specific crap isn't catching on.

Re:I thought Theora was GPL-ed? (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426505)

those of a patent holder who's gonna charge you every single time you watch a video

When you pull it out of your ass like that, I agree.

Too bad that isn't reality, you'd have an ironclad argument.

Re:I thought Theora was GPL-ed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426891)

Actually, in the end it comes down to whether you want to act like a religious open sores zealot or not. Clearly you chose the former.

Help me out, please (1)

Useful Wheat (1488675) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426051)

Could somebody please explain to me why the license matters? I mean, I understand that if a license limits mpeg-4 encoding to a single government computer running Windows ME that was lost 5 years ago, that the license is a HUGE barrier to entry to use the codec. However, in this case the license seems to be the only single category in which Theora wins. The compression is worse than mpeg-4. The compression takes more space. But look! The license is a little better! WINNER!

License (4, Informative)

XanC (644172) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426221)

The license is the single most important thing. It determines whether or not you can use the software at all, or for your specific purpose, whatever that is.

When we're talking about establishing a standard for the Web, which everybody is expected to be a) able and b) allowed to use, there is nothing more important than the license.

Re:License (1, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426683)

The user doesn't care about the license, because it's only relevant if you're encoding video.

YouTube, etc. will have to deal with licensing if they want to re-encode the videos that people upload using that codec. The users won't know the difference.

license is not the most important thing (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426717)

The license matters a whole lot less than the potential patent encumbrance for the codec.

The developers of Theora state that the codec is not encumbered by patents, but to my knowledge, there's been no legal tests of that and no intensive review of the possible areas of infringement by a patent attorney. That's a serious issue for the uptake of the codec by vendors, since they're potentially on the hook if it later turns out that the codec infringes on people patents and the holders want to be dicks about it.

Re:license is not the most important thing (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426789)

But the same is true if it turns out the MPEG4 codec infringes on somebody else's patent.

Re:Help me out, please (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426395)

Believe me, license matters. I had to figure out the GIF mess for a small company years back... It took a lot of effort, we never knew if we were really clear legally (Unisys was inconsistent, unresponsive and just plain difficult), and to us the money did matter (small streams yada yada). I imagine there were thousands of companies like us. Those thousands of companies had millions of customers who got a more expensive product because of that crap.

Re:Help me out, please (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426781)

The difference there is that Unisys just sprang the licensing issue out of nowhere when the web finally took off and they realized how much they could make in licensing fees. There are no submarine attacks here.

Re:Help me out, please (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426461)

The license means that every product that includes an encoder or decoder for MPEG-4 (including AVC / H.264) needs to pay the MPEG-LA a small free for every version they sell (or give away). This is incompatible with Free Software. Imagine that FireFox included an MPEG-4 implementation. The Mozilla Corporation makes enough money that they could afford to pay the maximum annual fee for this license, but what happens after you download it? If you give a copy of FireFox to someone else, then you need to pay the license fee (except you can't, because the MPEG-LA doesn't offer licenses except in large quantities). Maybe Moz. Corp. could pay that license too, but what happens in a few years time when they decide to stop? Suddenly, no one can redistribute any copies or derived works of FireFox. The root problem is that it is not possible to get a license for MPEG-4 that permits the kind of arbitrary redistribution that Free Software entails. Although the license fees are capped, they are capped annually, so each year you need to pay again or you no longer have a license to distribute code implementing the patents.

This is why Theora is better as a standard format. Anyone can implement it, at no cost and with no restrictions. H.264 is better quality, and so makes sense as an optional format for HTML 5 to support, but requiring it would mean that it would be impossible for the second-most-popular web browser to be HTML compliant. Of course, in an ideal world, the W3C, Mozilla Corporation, Google, or some other interested party would just buy the H.264 patents outright and let them lapse, but somehow I don't think that's very likely.

Re:Help me out, please (1)

FunkyELF (609131) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426805)

When I compile mplayer with H.264 support who is paying the license. Am I in violation of this license?

Re:Help me out, please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28427021)

  1. No one.
  2. Probably but no one cares.

Re:Help me out, please (2, Insightful)

Draek (916851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426495)

It's not "a little better", it's:

- available to be implemented by anyone and everyone without paying a cent or even asking for permission, with a BSD implementation available to all for free.

vs

- full of patents held by the big names of the industry, available under per-user licensing fees and any implementation not blessed by them exposes itself and anyone who uses it to big, very costly lawsuits in the US.

And when we're talking about a proposed standard for the entirety of the world wide web, things like that do matter.

Re:Help me out, please (1)

xlotlu (1395639) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426633)

Could somebody please explain to me why the license matters? I mean, I understand that if a license limits mpeg-4 encoding to a single government computer running Windows ME that was lost 5 years ago, that the license is a HUGE barrier to entry to use the codec. However, in this case the license seems to be the only single category in which Theora wins. The compression is worse than mpeg-4. The compression takes more space. But look! The license is a little better! WINNER!

You understand quite wrong. After having paid (a small amount) for the encoder, if you decide to post your > 12 minutes clip on the web, you're likely gonna have to pay through your nose come 2011. And everybody that wants to watch it must have paid for the decoder (another small amount).

The current H.264/MPEG-4 AV licensing is rather palatable, as they're trying to gain market share; decoders and encoders sold before 2005 were even spared any licensing fee. But this license expires at the end of 2010. So you see, it's like the drug dealers' business model: first treat is cheap/free. Once you're addicted to it, we're in business.

TFA explains it, and even has a convenient clicky for you:

After 2010, Mpeg-4 fees are increasing to include "internet broadcast fees" which apply when distributing Mpeg-4 content on the internet. This means that if I host my own Mpeg-4 clip on my own site, I owe an additional fee depending on how many times the clip is downloaded (for clips over 12 minutes) -- see mpeg licensing press release [mpegla.com] .

Re:Help me out, please (1)

Klistvud (1574615) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426721)

You must PAY to use a patented format, such as jpeg or mp3 or mpeg-4. In practice, the maker of your DVD player or your video camera, or the company making the software or ripping CDs, or your content provider, will have paid that "tax" in advance -- from your pocket, of course. That way, everything gets a bit more expensive than it should be. Players, cameras, computers, software, everything is encumbered with this "tax".

It also means that, if the patent holder decides to prosecute us users tomorrow (just as RIAA is doing today) and they find a jpg, or mp3, or mpeg-4 file on your computer that was obtained without paying for the royalties, using patent-circumventing means -- which roughly comprises ALL free software and many OSS phones/players/PDAs -- they may sue your ass off. That's why license matters.

Not comparing like with like (1)

Chris_Jefferson (581445) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426243)

..although this is an 1.1alpha release of Theora..

You say that as if it's against Theora. It's not -- otherwise they would have tested against a released version. There could well improvements in the various mpeg-4 codes if you dig around in developer repositories.

Question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426301)

How does the licensing cost of serving a file under a royalty based license compare to the cost of the extra bandwidth?

I wouldn't think there would be much difference, but maybe someone knows.

If true, then the cost of license compliance and solicitor fees and compliance officer etc could easily swing the balance to Theora.

If it's still pretty neck-and-neck, the Theora solution still has a simpler implementation process (us it) compared to the mpeg4.

More to than bandwidth (4, Interesting)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426307)

60% is bit of a price to pay, however IMHO the point of the video tag is tighter integration with your website than is easily achievable with flash. Hopefully theora will improve and compete with mpeg-4, but there are still many advantages to using it over flash for embedded video (for stand alone pages, it doesn't matter so much as most users have a plugin to handle mpeg-4)
*Interacts with the rest of the page easily (TBF actionscript, et al can achieve this)
*Much lower cpu usage. While flash is particularly bad, theora is particularly good
*Cross architecture. As people browse the web on phones, pdas, etc, this does actually matter
*Much less likely to be exploitable (TBF webhosts don't care, but users should)
*Open standards.

I don't think theora should be seen as simply a tool to replace flash videos but it should be seen as an opportunity to better integrate video into sites and/or make video content available to more people annoy people with video backgrounds

more to "video tag" than bandwidth (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426327)

title was supposed to be more to "video tag" but i didn't notice Slashdot lamed it up.

Re:more to <video tag> than bandwidth (0, Offtopic)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426599)

Trying to use angle brackets in your title?

Apparently Slashdot requires you to use &lt; and &gt; in the titles, yet doesn't support any html tags in them.

Re:More to than bandwidth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426545)

*... *Open standards.

Note how in your own list, "open standards" is last, reflecting public's perceived priority of this issue.

Why nobody speaks about Dirac? (3, Interesting)

diegocgteleline.es (653730) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426357)

Dirac is supposed to be a great opensource, patent-free codec, yet nobody seems to care a lot about it in all those HTML5 video talks....

Re:Why nobody speaks about Dirac? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426535)

While the Dirac format is finished (and provides the baseline for VC-2), the encoders and decoders are still very new, and not as optimised quality-wise or performance-wise as they could be. It's got a way to go before widespread adoption, much as the first MPEG-4 ASP encoders were not very good until DivX ;-).

There is of course nothing to stop you using both. The tag fully supports fallback (even allowing you to specify a flash video as a fallback if you want), and implementations appear fairly consistent on this.

Theora makes a fairly good "baseline" codecâ"roughly broadly as good as XviD, not as good as x264, very low CPU requirements for decoding. Encoders will only get better, and if you want to use a more advanced codec for browsers which support more advanced codecs like H.264, and the licensing isn't a problem for you (remembering that MPEG-LA start charging for this next year, which is one definite reason H.264 can't be a baseline codec, as it's not available on royalty-free or even RAND terms!), you can do that and it will work as it should.

Re:Why nobody speaks about Dirac? (1)

BeardedChimp (1416531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426653)

I've been trying to follow dirac since they used it to transfer the olympics HD streams internally but I am finding it difficult. Their project page [diracvideo.org] is teeming with interesting pages but the updates to it are few and far between. Their wiki page has had only minor additions in the last few months and their git log is moving at a snails pace. They have a forum on sourceforge but similarly it is rather quiet.

I realise that it only being developed by a few people at the BBC but the project has such promise that it leaves me wondering why there isn't a larger community behind it and whether it will ever pick up. I've tried asking in a few comments on their internet blog [bbc.co.uk] but they were not answered and they haven't written anything about dirac their for a long time.

Untested (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426431)

Technical testing is somewhat irrelevant until the "much better" license has been tested in court. The idea of a completely free codec is a nice pipe dream, but I'm skeptical that they've pulled it off without treading on at least a couple of patents. And unless they can show that to be false, the license they offer is somewhat meaningless. The first large company that steps up and uses Theora could easily end up being the one that gets sued.

So "much better" really depends on the point of view. If you're a small company or an individual, the Theora license is much better since you're not likely to be a big enough target to get sued. But for large companies, the Mpeg-4 license is much better since it has a well known fixed cost associated with it.

Indemnity (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426693)

Do the MPEG4 patent holders indemnify their licensees against violations of others' patents? If not, you're taking the same risk either way.

Like anyone really cares (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426609)

"Theora has a much better license than Mpeg-4"

So what? No, seriously...why should I care what kind of software license I "agree" to when I use MPEG4? I can never quite understand why this should matter to me. I'm sure this will elicit many cries of "FREEDOM!" but to date I have not encountered any situation where my alleged lack of "freedom" has actually hindered me from doing what I wanted to do with the media I was attempting to access.

So without the rhetoric, why the fuck should I care about this?

Theora stupidity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28426763)

Theora has no two-pass mode: when you turn select bitrate instead of quality Theora applies a hard limit. x264 has this mode too but no one uses it because it kills quality and because no one is trying to send video over slow links anymore. Theora needs to catch up with the rest of the world that left slow DSL behind years ago.

No contest (0)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 5 years ago | (#28426929)

After seeing the comparison videos, I have to say that I don't see where the problem resides. Although Theora does demand more bandwidth for a video with similar good video (a subjective trait), as anyone can see the, Theora's quality at lower bitrates is far from bad. It's still better than the quality that sites such as youtube relied on when starting their service.

Having that in mind, let's not forget that bandwidth is getting ridiculously cheaper and we are getting incredibly fast connections by the month. It's not like we are seeing people forfeiting their ISP contract due to the service fee being too much to bear or seeing people complaining about how their 1Mb/s connection not being fast enough. In fact, joe six-pack's internet connection is more than capable of downloading countless ISOs daily, let alone watching streaming video. And that's not counting all those fiber to the premises and similar projects. That means there is absolutely no problem caused by the difference in bitrate. The network is already more than capable of handling it.

Moreover, knowing that the bandwidth aspect of the thing is irrelevant then the only problem that needs to be tackled is the problem of implementing the service. That is also a no-brainer, as one option, Theora, is freely available and freely accessible while the other is proprietary, patent-incumbered and controlled by single private entities who forces an economic penalty on it's adoption. Who in their right mind wants to build their foundation on a technology that is controlled by someone who wants to raise tollbooths to to access it?

So, to put it short, Theora may demand more bandwidth but that is absolutely irrelevant. The real problem is that one contender is absolutely free, both economically and in terms of conditions, while the other will not only cost money but will also forces everyone to be at the mercy of some grand tech gatekeeper. Facing that question, I do believe the choice is obvious.

P.S.: fuck you, slashdot, for screwing up the comment edit box so that I can only get paragraphs separated by newlines if I post the messages under the code option.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?