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Theora 1.1 (Thusnelda) Is Released

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the prettier-pictures dept.

Upgrades 184

SD-Arcadia writes to tell us that Theora 1.1 has officially been released. It features improved encoding, providing better video quality for a given file size, a faster decoder, bitrate controls to help with streaming, and two-pass encoding. "The new rate control module hits its target much more accurately and obeys strict buffer constraints, including dropping frames if necessary. The latter is needed to enable live streaming without disconnecting users or pausing to buffer during sudden motion. Obeying these constraints can yield substantially worse quality than the 1.0 encoder, whose rate control did not obey any such constraints, and often landed only in the vague neighborhood of the desired rate target. The new --soft-target option can relax a few of these constraints, but the new two-pass rate control mode gives quality approaching full 'constant quality' mode with a predictable output size. This should be the preferred encoding method when not doing live streaming. Two-pass may also be used with finite buffer constraints, for non-live streaming." A detailed writeup on the new release has been posted at Mozilla.

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184 comments

What every player is missing (1, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549163)

The one thing I'd like to have with players is good support for playing files off from compressed (rar/zip etc) files. And I mean good support, not just something that works like a stream, but where you can seek and do everything like you can do with actual files.

Other than the not so much interest in it, is there some actual reason this haven't been done good yet? VLC had some support for it in early days, and I understand it got better too. But it's still not the same. For example loading subtitles etc is impossible.

Please develop this aspect too, as many.. MANY people look and want it.

Re:What every player is missing (5, Insightful)

TimTucker (982832) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549201)

Why? If the video and audio are compressed already, are you really gaining much by trying to compress them again? As for subtitles, aren't you better off with a container that supports them (i.e.: mkv)?

Re:What every player is missing (2, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549263)

Why? If the video and audio are compressed already, are you really gaining much by trying to compress them again?

Perhaps he's using the zip/rar as a simple container file.

Re:What every player is missing (2, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549351)

Yep. They are actually zero-compressed files, but still inside multi-archived files. But the subtitle files are as separate. I can load a video file just fine on vlc, but I cant load subtitles in it unless I decompress and they have the same filename.

Re:What every player is missing (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549441)

What's wrong with using mkv?

Re:What every player is missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549505)

Nothing supports mkv out of the box.

Re:What every player is missing (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549561)

VLC does. And it doesn't suck anymore.

Re:What every player is missing (-1, Offtopic)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550021)

But does it have hardware acceleration for .mkv out of the box? My 4650 1Gb, which costs a whole $35 after rebate, does WMV9, DivX, .Mp4, and H263/H264 acceleration out of the box which today is important now more than ever.

With the rise of green computing, netbooks/nettops, mobile media on devices such as cell phones and high def it is more important than ever to have GPU offloading of video. With offloading you get less power usage, which translates to lower electricity bills or longer battery life, and even on my new dual core desktop having the video offloaded to the GPU translates into a better experience, with me able to multitask without having my video skip or hang. GPU processing is not only the way of the future, but the way of the present.

The point? Does anybody even HAVE a codec for GPU offloading for Theora yet? Because I can watch high def vids off the web on this wimpy 1.8 Sempron thanks to the 4650 I added to it, which as I said is dirt cheap. I can do the same on the go thanks to H264 codecs for the big three-AMD, Nvidia, Intel. If Theora really wants to get into this game and become a competitor to H264 and DivX they need an offloading codec like yesterday and they need to get it into the hands of the big three so it will be incorporated into their drivers and "just work" like DivX, WMV9, and H263/264.

Don't get me wrong, I have serious respect for anyone willing to develop something as complex as a video format, but it is pretty obvious that green computing and GPU offloading is here to stay, and you can buy tons of mobile devices that have H264 and DivX support. If Theora wants a decent chunk of this market they HAVE to have a GPU offloading codec, and the sooner the better. After all, folks don't really care if a container is "encumbered" or not, as long as it works. Look at how little a nice .ogg has compared to .mp3 and .aac. Audio is pretty much owned by .mp3, and with the patents expiring in 2012 I don't see that changing. But video is a whole new ball game and Theora still has a chance if they can get their codec up to speed. But in today's mobile heavy and green conscious environment power sucking CPU bound codecs are just not the way to go. After all nobody wants their low power Ion or AMD ULV netbook sucked dry by a single Theora video, right? Not when there is a perfectly good GPU just sitting there twiddling its thumbs.

Re:What every player is missing (4, Informative)

CajunArson (465943) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550049)

But does it have hardware acceleration for .mkv out of the box?

You don't understand what MKV [wikipedia.org] is... it's not a codec, it's a container format for holding the video & audio stream along with assorted other information. This could mean multiple video and audio streams as is common for many movies dubbed in different languages or alternate video scenes. The hardware acceleration applies to whatever codec is used to create the streams held within the MKV file.. and that could be many different things from MPEG2, h.264, VC1, etc. etc.

Re:What every player is missing (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550055)

But does it have hardware acceleration for .mkv out of the box?

No, because mkv is a container format. Hardware acceleration for a container format makes no sense. Other than to demonstrate that you don't know the difference between containers and CODECs (or between Gb and GB) was there a point to your rant?

Re:What every player is missing (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549649)

CCCP [cccp-project.net]

Anime went MKV way (x264+Vorbis) for HD release quite some time ago.

Also I hear recent DivX supports MKV files too.

Re:What every player is missing (1)

NotWorkSafe (891638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550421)

Is there an OS X version of this?

Re:What every player is missing (3, Informative)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550727)

No. On Mac OS X best shot is the the MPlayer OSX Extended [mplayerosx.sttz.ch]. At H.264 playback it's better than vanilla CCCP, but not as good as commercial CoreAVC.

VLC sadly is as hopeless as it was before. When I heard that they finally supported ASS subtitles I was excited to try it out - only to find that it still sucks at any contemporary media job.

smplayer allows arbitrary name subtitles (3, Informative)

KWTm (808824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549487)

I cant load subtitles in [VLC] unless I decompress and they have the same filename.

Just wanted to let you know that SMplayer [sourceforge.net] lets you load any file as the subtitle file. Of course, Mplayer itself does, too, but some people get intimidated by the command-line. With SMplayer, you go to the Subtitles menu, click on Load, and then pick whichever file you want.

In case anyone doesn't know yet, SMplayer is a user-friendly front-end for the powerful Mplayer program. Mplayer is probably the next best thing to an omnipotent video (and audio) player, but it's a command-line program with a bewildering array of options guaranteed to intimidate the weak of heart. SMplayer is a very well done user interface, just as easy to use as VLC but allows use of most of the features of Mplayer. SMplayer is to Mplayer what Ubuntu is to Debian.

Now, it still doesn't work on zip files. I wish someone had written SMplayer with the KDE toolkit instead of GTK+; then you could use the zip Kpart and just dive right into the Zip file (or even specify the subtitle filename as "fish://mylogin@myhomemachine/mypath/mysubtitlefile" and just pull it off another machine on the SOHO net).

Re:smplayer allows arbitrary name subtitles (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549535)

but some people get intimidated by the command-line

yes, those people are pussies, and not the kind you can fuck either

Re:smplayer allows arbitrary name subtitles (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549681)

SMPlayer makes sure that you never ever need to see command line.

On Linux and Mac OS X (where MPC [sourceforge.net] + CoreAVC isn't available), Mplayer front-ends are your surest bet for HD video playback with soft subtitles.

As much as I wish for VLC to work, it is probably worst of all HD capable players, having all possible problems: subs sync, a/v sync, video jitter.

Re:smplayer allows arbitrary name subtitles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549641)

Actually, SMPlayer uses Qt, not GTK.

Re:smplayer allows arbitrary name subtitles (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549867)

"I wish someone had written SMplayer with the KDE toolkit instead of GTK+"
SMplayer is written using Qt and can be compiled with KDE options enabled. I do not know if it enables streaming from kioslaves, but there's bound to be some zip FUSE module for that.

Re:What every player is missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550197)

SO you have a 700mb video file, but you just need to squeeze that text file up to safe space?

Re:What every player is missing (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549545)


I can't see much reason for that. I can only guess that he's downloading TV programs or something off free file hosting companies. With a limit of 100MB for example, people break larger media into rar archives so that they can be downloaded piecemeal.

Re:What every player is missing (3, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549585)

Folders/Directories are a much simpler container that is more widely supported.

Re:What every player is missing (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549797)

And it's also a pain to transfer a "folder" of files to someone over the net. Torrents are the only remotely usable solution and that requires making a torrent, uploading it to a site, and then finding a user you want to give it to who also understands bittorrent...

Re:What every player is missing (2, Funny)

modecx (130548) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550621)


And it's also a pain to transfer a "folder" of files to someone over the net. Torrents are the only remotely usable solution and that requires making a torrent, uploading it to a site, and then finding a user you want to give it to who also understands bittorrent...

Totally. Someone should get on this immediately. It would be totally cool to have a program which is able to string a number of files and their associated directories together, and just dump them into one file for ease of distribution! And then, on the other side of the internets, the recipient could use the same program to take all of that stuff from the file he received, and dump it back out, directories and all.

Re:What every player is missing (1)

AndreR (814444) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549979)

Parent (sopssa) most likely obtains 'legal' movies from scene releases, which come packed in ~40 MB rar files.

Re:What every player is missing (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549215)

What kind of ass-backwards player are you using that doesn't support compressed formats? Are you saying you're incapable of playing anything but raw DV and WAV and want to use inferior general-purpose compression for them, or what?

Re:What every player is missing (2, Informative)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549231)

And I mean good support, not just something that works like a stream, but where you can seek and do everything like you can do with actual files.
Afaict the only way to read a portion of a file in a zip is to read and decompress the whole file up to the portion wanted so seeking is going to be pretty damn slow.

Re:What every player is missing (2, Informative)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549595)

Well unless you don't compress the file in the ZIP (STORE). Then you can just seek directly from the file's offset.

Re:What every player is missing (4, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549247)

I'll just have to ask... why? Except for some holdouts from Usenet I think pretty much everyone uses torrents without any rar/zip compression. And even those are automatically decompressed if you set up something like hellanzb. It certainly doesn't save you any space, it's just for grouping files together and intgrity checking. Except torrents already do that, same with PAR on the Usenet side. It's completely redundant these days.

Re:What every player is missing (1)

xded (1046894) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550381)

Except for some holdouts from Usenet I think pretty much everyone uses torrents without any rar/zip compression.

Funny how these days noone knows how the real Scene works. But it's surely better this way.

Regarding GP's post, just look around and you will find that it's not the most publicized feature in players, but many of them work OOTB with RARs. If you're lazy, one name for all: BSPlayer. And yes, it does support subs. Both internally or via VSFilter.

Too many glitches in BSPlayer? (I know, some are annoying.) Then go for XBMC, first RAR support I've seen and probably the best one.

Still not satisfied? Try WinMount, to mount with one click any set of compressed files to a new virtual drive. And then use your favorite player.

-xded

Re:What every player is missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549367)

While it's feasible to do what you say if the player extracts the files beforehand to a temporary location, it's not feasible to do it without. Most archive formats compress a file as a single stream, or multiple files as a single stream (solid compression it's commonly called). Since you have to begin decompression from the beginning of the stream, you can only seek to an arbitrary point in the actual file by starting from the beginning of the file and decompressing until the point you want.

Re:What every player is missing (4, Informative)

Vahokif (1292866) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549399)

You could try mounting the archive(s) using FUSE, and then play the contents with whatever you want.

Re:What every player is missing (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549493)

Mod parent up; exactly what I was going to say. If you want to be able to treat archives as directories, this functionality belongs in the OS, not in every application. Windows has done this automatically for ZIP files since XP and other operating systems that support FUSE (including OS X) can do it for a variety of different archive formats.

Re:What every player is missing (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549579)

Umm video/audio files are compressed, so technically we have this already. What you are proposing is compression inside of compression, which is quite useless. If you actually are getting good compression ratios from the RAR or ZIP then the video wasn't encoded with a good compression algorithm to begin with.

Re:What every player is missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549821)

LOL, rar you say? It's a proprietary format my dear, as in completely irrelevant.

Re:What every player is missing (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550441)

The one thing I'd like to have with players is good support for playing files off from compressed (rar/zip etc) files. And I mean good support, not just something that works like a stream, but where you can seek and do everything like you can do with actual files.

There's really only one graceful way to implement this, which is to decompress it to disk well ahead of time to avoid getting I/O bound. Maybe you can do it in blocks. The best option is to only support uncompressed files in archives; compressed files get decompressed wholesale. And really, anything compressed in there is probably small enough to just decompress too.

Re:What every player is missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550837)

RARFileSource. I can't believe no one has mentioned it yet. It lets you play rar files using your favorite DirectShow filter.

Would it be so tough (1, Insightful)

ubrgeek (679399) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549187)

to actually say what the hell the thing is in the summary without assuming everyone "just knows"?

Re:Would it be so tough (1)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549323)

You're on the internet.

I know that's no excuse for lazy Slashdot editors, I just thought you might need to be reminded.

Re:Would it be so tough (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549381)

Its a new method for streaming 3D game data over t'internet for remote rendering.

Re:Would it be so tough (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549405)

Please explain this "Linux" thing to me, everyone talks about it, but they assume that everyone "just knows" what it is.

Re:Would it be so tough (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550263)

Linux is used by over 10 million people worldwide and is widely known among technical types (the demographic Slashdot attracts). Theora is much less known. (source [googlefight.com]).

Re:Would it be so tough (1)

Ronald Dumsfeld (723277) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549501)

to actually say what the hell the thing is in the summary without assuming everyone "just knows"?

Everyone would have been perfectly happy if they just came out and said, "yes, it will support streaming porn."

That's all we need to hear, right?

Re:Would it be so tough (1)

ivucica (1001089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549559)

Say what? You've been living under a rock for five years? Why would anyone do that? ... Oh. Ok. Whatever. Still seems stupid to me.

Maybe now Google will change their mind. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549193)

Maybe now Google will use Theora instead of the patent-encumbered H.264 in their new HTML5 Youtube.

That is if the issues have been addressed.

Re:Maybe now Google will change their mind. (4, Informative)

koxkoxkox (879667) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549213)

This page seems to say they have been addressed : http://people.xiph.org/~greg/video/ytcompare/comparison.html [xiph.org]

Re:Maybe now Google will change their mind. (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549403)

Except that you tube uses a rather failtastic h264 encoder. This comparison [saintdevelopment.com] seems to suggest that they really haven't been addressed. In fact, that 1.1 is worse than 1.0!

The version of x264 used here is even rather out of date, and misses a couple of major improvements.

Re:Maybe now Google will change their mind. (2, Interesting)

makomk (752139) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549983)

The version of Theora used in that comparison is also rather out of date. Nearly a year out of date, in fact - it's an SVN snapshot dating from 2008-11-25, not the released version 1.1. I think the experimental Thusnelda encoder was known to have regressed slightly on video taken from Touhou games back then.

Typial video bigot ethics- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550125)

The r15534 claimed to be "1.1" which tested on that page is from November 2008. Since 1.1 was just released, and since most of the development discussed in the announcement was in 2009... unless the Xiph people have a time machine the operator of that test was playing more than a little fast and loose with the truth.

Moreover, this is a pretty bizarre test: Do you normally spend much of your time encoding shooter game footage where 1/3 of the screen is totally still uber high detail stuff and the rest is a sea of constant motion? x264 has a special mode for encoding this clip: Search for touhou [project357.com]. Well great for them, though they can't beat my uber_touhou codec: It's 100% lossless for this clip with a bitrate of ZERO bits for the whole file! (although the codec is still a bit large; and it encodes other clips poorly).

Re:Maybe now Google will change their mind. (2, Informative)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549419)

Also of note, the comparison you said, actually doesn't say what you claim... It says that it beats the h263 youtube version at a lower bit rate. Read the conclusions - they admit that the h264 version on youtube is better quality.

Re:Maybe now Google will change their mind. (1)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549539)

Even at ~500k, the Youtube version is clearly more blur on details.
And I thought I would need to download yet another codec to play the Theora video, but surprise to learn that my Firefox 3.5 does support it natively!

Re:Maybe now Google will change their mind. (1, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549393)

A look at this comparison [saintdevelopment.com] seems to suggest to me that 1.1 is actually worse than 1.0. Certainly it's no where near as good as x264 produced h264.

Re:Maybe now Google will change their mind. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549483)

2008!!! Its 2009 these days you know....

Re:Maybe now Google will change their mind. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549497)

Why would 1.1 be worse than 1.0? Such senseless results are usually an indication that the people who conducted the benchmarks did something wrong.

In that particular case it seems they've been testing a theora built from theora's svn revision r15534, whereas the current revision is 16583 http://svn.xiph.org/trunk/theora/ [xiph.org]

This benchmark seems outdated.

Re:Maybe now Google will change their mind. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550067)

Why are you comparing a year old nightly version of the Thusnelda branch (from 6 months before the first alpha release!) against 1.0 and claiming it is relevant when they've just released the final version which anyone who has been paying attention knows fixes a bunch of obvious bugs and shows marked improvement?

Re:Maybe now Google will change their mind. (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550303)

Maybe now Google will use Theora instead of the patent-encumbered H.264 in their new HTML5 Youtube.

"Encumbered" implies some sort of difficulty. H.264 decoding is available, for free (and, if you must, for free as in freedom, as well), on every OS, including Linux.

So, where's the encumbering?

It seems to me that requiring only open standards, when *they* are not the norm and require going out of one's way is more encumbering than going with something like h.264. Not to mention being encumbered with a format that offers inferior quality.

Freedom is cool and all, and I'm supremely grateful for Theora's existence, but h.264 is the current king of codecs. Firefox (the fundamental source of requesting Google use Theora) needs to quit being a bunch of anti-user ninnies and support the codec their users are using. Support Theora in addition to h.264 if you want (in fact, I encourage it), but if a browser (or free OS or whatever) is going to support gif and mp3, you have no excuse for not support h.264 as well.

Q. What is Theora? (4, Informative)

onionman (975962) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549199)

From the FAQ on the website:

Theora is an open video codec being developed by the Xiph.org Foundation as part of their Ogg project (It is a project that aims to integrate On2's VP3 video codec, Ogg Vorbis audio codec and Ogg multimedia container formats into a multimedia solution that can compete with MPEG-4 format).
Theora is derived directly from On2's VP3 codec; currently the two are nearly identical, varying only in framing headers, but Theora will diverge and improve from the main VP3 development lineage as time progresses.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (4, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549235)

Moreover, Theora is the only decent video codec which complies with the W3C's patent policy. There is no question or threat of demands for patent royalties or license payments for any use of the codec.

Dirac isn't shabby (4, Interesting)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549373)

Dirac [diracvideo.org] strikes me as another codec worth following. It's available to all developers, high-quality, and in production use by the BBC during the Olympics (they said so in their Dirac promotional video [bbc.co.uk]). VLC has support for playing back Dirac streams. I'd guessing other players do as well.

I expect Theora and Dirac to be of interest to all who want high-quality free video codecs.

Re:Dirac isn't shabby (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549549)

Worth following? Yes. Especially as a profile of Dirac is in process of adoption as VC-2 and so will be used a lot for digital masters. Worth deploying? Not so much. A decent (Core 2 or better) laptop can probably play back Dirac without dropping frames, but it will be at a very high CPU load. A handheld has no chance. There are a couple of GPU-based decoders which may be ported to run on OpenGL ES 2.0 hardware in a modern handheld and there is a hardware decoder under development that may help too (especially if it's licensed as an IP core for integration into ARM SoCs).

That said, most handhelds can handle Theora, so providing both Theora and Dirac should cover most clients. Not the iPhone, of course, but if people will buy into a closed platform then they can't expect things to always work...

VLC has support for playing back Dirac streams.

The OS X builds prior to 1.0 had Dirac support, but 1.0 didn't and neither have any of the subsequent ones. No word on whether this is intentional or not from the VLC team, but playing a Dirac file now pops up an error saying 'dirac' is an unrecognised CODEC ID.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549295)

And the real A:

It's an outdated video codec that loses to H.264 in pretty much every codec shootout, and is in general ignored in HD media (H.264/VC-1), HD broadcasts (H.264/MPEG2), set top boxes, mobile players and so on. It's also pretty much completely ignored by the pirate community, preferring mkv/H.264. While possibly FUD, not everyone is willing to ship this codec because they fear submarine patents meaning it's lost its only real shot at relevance as the default codec for HTML5 video, which now also seems to be a mix probably dominated by H.264. The end result is that it might be used by a few geeks and internally in video games and such that provide their own player, but it'll likely have as much impact as vorbis had on the mp3/aac format. That is, none.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (1)

WiiVault (1039946) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549369)

Sadly I agree. But the vorbis mp3 example is too kind. Ogg Vorbis was significantly better than mp3 at a given bitrate, and it still didn't get much traction. Theora on the other hand, like you said, doesn't compare to modern proprietary codecs. It's too bad, but it's true.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549447)

Vorbis's encoder is better than the LAME implementation of MP3. It might even be better than the Fraunhofer MP3 encoder in some tests (I haven't checked). But it definitely loses to AAC HE and Fraunhofer MP3 at low bitrates (below 64kbps).

Re:Q. What is Theora? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549451)

Yes, but vorbis is somewhat inferior to AAC (Advanced audio codec, hint, it goes with Advanced video codec, aka h264), which was also highlighted by the parent.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550105)

Theora is not in the same generation as h.264, it mostly has openess going for it though it's now probably passable for most uses (much like desktop linux versus Mac OS X).

Vorbis however statistically ties with AAC *and* AAC+ in listening tests which are two separately licensed and patented codecs aimed at different bitrates. It really is class leading software. As are other Xiph-family codecs like Speex and CELT.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549861)

The Theora 1.0 encoder was not as good as some other encoders, but the Theora 1.1 encoder seems to be a big improvement, and in my opinion now one of the best encoders.
The Theora format (and the Theora players) use a very clean and flexible design, making it possible to do all these improvements without changing the actual format. All the old Theora 1.0 players will play files encoded with Theora 1.1 without problems.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549389)

internally in video games

This is nothing to scoff at, particularly as independent games are growing. Even the AAA developers typically use Ogg Vorbis where in the past they'd use WAV or license MP3. Sadly, Bink video is still very much around, mostly for cross-platform reasons, I think. If Theora can squish them, that's quite significant.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (0, Troll)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549395)

Actually, it's quality is better than H.264. It just suffered from needing a higher powered processor to decode video for play back. Theora 1.0 would not work very well on an ARM based device like the iPod. See www.xiph.org. I believe there is a link on there comparing H.264 and Theora. Theora is noticeably better but version 1.0 suffers in the live video streaming arena. My guess is Theora 1.1 should be noticeably better.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549469)

The link on xiph.org (http://people.xiph.org/~greg/video/ytcompare/comparison.html I'm guessing you mean) doesn't show that it's better than h264, it shows that it's better than h263, at a low bit rate. In the conclusions it freely admits that the h264 video is better quality.

Here's [saintdevelopment.com] another comparison that clearly shows that both 1.1 and 1.0 are worse than h264 â" the x264 encoder used here is actually pretty old, and missing a couple of major improvements too.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (2, Insightful)

BitHive (578094) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550083)

Did you even watch the videos at your second link? It's pretty clear to me that Theora is the better codec in that clip. Play them side by side and notice how much better the butterfly and the sky looks with Theora.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550333)

Your second link, as has been pointed out so often in this thread, is using an svn snapshot from a year ago. Try again with an actual 1.1 release.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (3, Interesting)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549675)

Actually, it's quality is better than H.264

Hahaha, no. Just no.

It just suffered from needing a higher powered processor to decode video for play back.

Also hilariously wrong. Hell, one of the advantages (what few there are) of Theora its proponents like to bring up is that it takes less resources to decode than H.264. I have no fucking clue where you got this idea from.

See www.xiph.org. I believe there is a link on there comparing H.264 and Theora. Theora is noticeably better

Wrong again. There have been several comparisons between H.264 and Theora by the Xiph folks and they've all come out in favor of H.264. They've only tried to argue that Theora isn't really that bad. The problem is it is, and the only reason Theora didn't get utterly murdered in their comparisons is they've compared default Theora to default x264 and YouTube's H.264.

Default Theora is pretty much as good as it gets unless you want to set custom quantization/Huffman tables. Default x264 falls far short of x264 with its settings set for maximum quality, mainly because when you set them like that it's slow as fuck and most people will take worse quality over sub-1 FPS encoding. I don't know what YouTube uses or how they set it, but I seriously doubt a site that huge goes for the maximum possible quality.

Furthermore, Theora is simply inferior technology-wise to H.264. Theora-the-specification is far behind H.264 and it makes it pretty much impossible for Theora-the-software to ever be better than a decent H.264 encoder, as any improvements could simply be copied by the H.264 encoder (though it's more likely it'd be the other way around).

My guess is Theora 1.1 should be noticeably better.

It is noticeably better than Theora 1.0, but remains noticeably worse than H.264 and will continue to be so.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (3, Interesting)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549863)

I would rather that community based projects with low budgets distribute video using an absolutely free codec if the alternative is that they don't distribute at all because they can't afford the fees. If the quality is a little bit worse, but it's still fit for the purpose, and it's free, then it has more value than superior technology that is not affordable.

People shouldn't be using YouTube as their distribution mechanism in the first place. They should be using their own devices.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (1)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549953)

Where in my post did I say that you can't choose inferior codecs for other reasons? All I did was respond to the absurd assertion that Theora is better than H.264. If you think using outdated technology is an acceptable price to pay to avoid patent issues, go right ahead.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550165)

> People shouldn't be using YouTube as their distribution mechanism in the first place. They should be using their own devices.

If only there were a site where community based projects with low budgets could distribute their videos for free, and was tied into a major search engine...

Re:Q. What is Theora? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550505)

Actually, it's quality is better than H.264

Hahaha, no. Just no.

I am an 12 and what is this troll?

Can we please not start a flamewar, anyway, I would like to see some links to where you got this information if you don't mind sharing?

Re:Q. What is Theora? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549577)

A few clarifications:

> outdated video codec
An arbitrary definition which, could very well apply equally well to H.264 in comparison to almost any other codec.

> loses to H.264 in pretty much every codec shootout
But not usually by very much; and in any case, countless codecs beat H.264 in pretty much every respect in turn - but since the issue is not some theoretical perfect codec but a cost/bandwidth/quality/encode-cpu-time/decode-cpu-time/features/etc tradeoff, this might still result in a net benefit if attributes like "unpatented" rank high enough on your individual requirements list.

> and is in general ignored in HD media (H.264/VC-1), HD broadcasts (H.264/MPEG2), set top boxes, mobile players and so on.
Which is typical, that is, for commercial implementors to prefer commercial rather than community standards, as often as not purely because of personal bias or lack of understanding, and speaking nothing of the benefits otherwise.

> It's also pretty much completely ignored by the pirate community, preferring mkv/H.264
A moot point, given that people who are misappropriating unpaid-for content choosing to use a misappropriated unpaid-for format is hardly surprising.

> While possibly FUD, not everyone is willing to ship this codec because they fear submarine patents meaning it's lost its only real shot at relevance as the default codec for HTML5 video
Which only proves that patents are so absurd generally that the whole industry is jumping at shadows, given that the nearly-two-decade-old Xiph Foundation has never once even been accused of violating patents across their dozens of published and implemented standards, let alone having actually been formally challenged (and something that no other format/provider under consideration can say).

> which now also seems to be a mix probably dominated by H.264.
The jury's still out on that one - I think most people expect the W3 to wash their hands of baseline video recommendations entirely (at least until a possible appropriate future format meets the requirements) and thus leaving a scenario of no de jure standard, and probably a de facto standard of, as you say, some semi-compatible mutant alternatives centering around semi-conformant H.264 implementations.

> The end result is that it might be used by a few geeks and internally in video games and such that provide their own player, but it'll likely have as much impact as vorbis had on the mp3/aac format. That is, none.
That is, an important and ALWAYS GROWING beachhead against unFree formats and bastardized non-standards generally (seriously, while not anywhere near de facto standard, vorbis, flac, speex, etc. usage has only ever increased - never decreased - and gets better with every passing year).

Re:Q. What is Theora? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549827)

> An arbitrary definition which, could very well apply equally well to H.264 in comparison to almost any other codec.
I don't think there are any relevant, modern video-coding specs that are newer than H.264.

> But not usually by very much;
Wrong, x264 beats Theora by quite a lot. Maybe you are comparing black frames?

> and in any case, countless codecs beat H.264 in pretty much every respect in turn
This is just wrong. I do not know of any lossy codec that delivers better bitrate/quality than current good H.264 implementations.

> but since the issue is not some theoretical perfect codec but a cost/bandwidth/quality
When talking about video quality, bitrate/quality is the only thing worthwhile to compare. x264 leaves Theora in the dust at this.

> encode-cpu-time/decode-cpu-time/features/etc tradeoff
Of course speed is another factor. Theora is quite unoptimized and slow. At fast settings, x264 quality and speed are still both much better than anything Theora can deliver. As for decoding, there are dedicated hardware chips to decode H.264. You will be able to play it on a phone. Theora will have to use implementations on general purpose CPUs, which will probably be much worse for battery life and performance.

> this might still result in a net benefit if attributes like "unpatented" rank high enough on your individual requirements list.
Maybe if it is your only factor?

> vorbis, flac, speex, etc. usage has only ever increased - never decreased - and gets better with every passing year
That is not because those are free, it is because those are actually pretty good.

Of course, I am probably wasting my time on a troll here.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (4, Insightful)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549931)

A moot point, given that people who are misappropriating unpaid-for content choosing to use a misappropriated unpaid-for format is hardly surprising.

Seriously? Do you work for the MPAA or some other group like that? People who pirate stuff aren't comic book villains who break laws just for the sake of breaking laws. They don't think "oh hey while I'm violating copyright I'll violate patents too, just because I can!" H.264 is more popular because it is better, not because the people who encode stuff get hard at the thought of breaking laws in a way nobody particularly cares about and they're never ever going to get in trouble for.

The AC above me covers the rest of your points quite nicely, so I'm not going to write something that would be much the same as his. Your post is utter nonsense, and you and the people who actually looked at your post and not only managed to not laugh, but modded you up need to pull your heads out of the GNU/sand and admit that Theora is simply inferior. If you think not having any patent problems is a big enough issue to prefer a technologically inferior codec, that's fine. But don't twist the facts and outright lie just so you can try to pretend Theora is otherwise a match for modern codecs, because it is not.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550393)

They don't think "oh hey while I'm violating copyright I'll violate patents too, just because I can!"

No, but if they don't particularly care about violating copyright, they won't care much about violating patents, either.

H.264 is more popular because it is better

Because it's better, or because it's perceived as better -- in terms of quality per bit. But again, anywhere other than the pirate community, patents are likely to be an issue, and an open-but-worse format may be preferred over a closed-but-better format, especially if it's not that much worse.

admit that Theora is simply inferior.

I'm pretty sure that's what was meant by this part:

But not usually by very much; and in any case, countless codecs beat H.264 in pretty much every respect in turn

In other words, yes, Theora is inferior, but probably not by enough to care -- just as better-than-h.264 formats aren't better enough to care.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (1)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550637)

No, but if they don't particularly care about violating copyright, they won't care much about violating patents, either.

Phrasing it as them using "a misappropriated unpaid-for format" is not saying they merely don't care. You really have to read that line very loosely and optimistically to interpret it in a way
that doesn't make it seem like the author was thinking "damn filthy fucking pirates" when he wrote it.

Because it's better, or because it's perceived as better -- in terms of quality per bit.

I don't see how "in terms of quality per bit" changes anything, as that's the regular definition of "better" when it comes to lossy compression. If merely quality is all you take into account, then uncompressed video wins easily. If merely size is all you take into account, then some hypothetical codec that just compresses anything to an empty file wins easily.

But again, anywhere other than the pirate community, patents are likely to be an issue, and an open-but-worse format may be preferred over a closed-but-better format, especially if it's not that much worse.

No, anywhere other than commercial uses nobody cares about patents. Unless you're saying ripping for personal use is piracy, there's an enormous amount of usage where patents simply don't matter.

In other words, yes, Theora is inferior, but probably not by enough to care

Saying "it's worse but not worse enough for anyone to notice" is not admitting it's inferior, it's saying it's just as good.

just as better-than-h.264 formats aren't better enough to care.

Better-than-H.264 formats arern't "not better enough for anyone to care", they're not existing. There's codecs on roughly the same level as H.264 and which use very similar technology (e.g. VC-1), and there's a few codecs in development that may turn out to be better (e.g. Dirac) but aren't yet mature enough for usage, but at the moment there's not really anything better than H.264, not even better enough to not care.

Re:Q. What is Theora? (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550709)

They don't think "oh hey while I'm violating copyright I'll violate patents too, just because I can!"

No, but if they don't particularly care about violating copyright, they won't care much about violating patents, either.

Nobody's saying they aren't violating patents either. That's not the topic here.

A moot point, given that people who are misappropriating unpaid-for content choosing to use a misappropriated unpaid-for format is hardly surprising.

You're dismissing the opinion of pirates on their choice of video codec because they're pirating content, implying they're somehow baised towards h264 because it's a patented codec. It's no suprise they use h264 because they have already shown they don't care about breaking the law, true. But they don't have any reason to proactively support h264, either. Ripping the content is their hobby, they will choose the tool they believe best for the job. They really don't care if it's Theora, h264, or even DivX. Their choice in h264 is still an endorsement for the format by people who in some cases know what they're doing when it comes to video encoding.

You know.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549219)

As an academic exercise this is interesting but seriously, beyond that what is the point?

We are still nowhere near finished with h.264, and the new features that are nearing completion (SVC/MVC) just take it even further away from the efforts of projects like theora. h.264 is the standard, it is being used everywhere from cell phones and video conferencing to feature and television distribution and consumer content. Do yourselves a favor, get off of theora and contribute to x.264 as there are many areas where it can be improved.

Re:You know.. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549297)

What's the point? It's free, in both senses of the word.

Unlike H.264, you do not have to pay to use Theora.

Unlike H.264, you can use Theora in open-source software without worrying about being sued or shut down overnight.

Sure, if you don't care about freedom and don't mind paying for the privilege, go ahead and use H.264. But why would you want to, when you can use Theora however you want to, and without paying a cent?

Re:You know.. (3, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549817)

Because everyone else in the industry is using H.264. If you want your materials to play nice with others hardware, software, etc. you'd better damn well be using H.264.

Generally, the cost of the H.264 license is covered by the software/hardware purchased by the consumer, whether it's a business or personal use. It's licensed by Adobe/Apple/Google/whomever when you buy or use their encoder. I don't have to pay a licensing fee for every video I create in H.264.

I've tested Theora on a few occasions. Everytime, H.264 has beat it in terms of quality for file size plus I can send an H.264 file to anyone else in the industry and I guarantee it will play for them. And today, I can put it out on the web and be pretty much guaranteed that just about everyone can view it.

Not so much with Theora.

Re:You know.. (0)

CatOne (655161) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549829)

I don't have to pay to use H.264. I haven't paid a cent.

Whether the software I use had to pay a fee to generate H.264, I really don't care. It came with my Mac, and it works (and quality is great, unlike Theora which is based on a codec that was ditched by On2 almost a decade ago as it was inferior to modern codecs).

Lipstick on a pig. Sure, a free pig, but not important to me as again, H.264 is free to me as well.

Re:You know.. (5, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549907)

Unlike H.264, you do not have to pay to use Theora.

Unless it becomes popular, in which case the so-called "submarine" (actually they may not even be submarine) patents will come to the fore, and you'll have to pay.

I don't trust Xiph having read their comments about what exactly they mean by "Patent free" [hydrogenaudio.org], and having seen the silence over, say, Vorbis's apparent infringement of US Patent 5,214,742. Is Theora "safer" than Vorbis? Well, it's another DCT-based codec, just like 99% of the video codecs in use since H.261, and it's essentially doing stuff where everyone else is doing stuff. The chances of it not violating some patent somewhere is minimal to non-existent, as everyone and their brother is trying to come up with ways to improve DCT based algorithms that they can patent and then submit to MPEG or VCEG for incorporation into the next MPEG or H.26* video standard.

There are really only three standards that could be considered free of patent issues, and even then it's not entirely 100% certain. H.261 dates back to the mid eighties. The ITU lists no current patents applying to MPEG-1. (It's worth pointing out that Theora's predecessor, VP3, is considered to be somewhere between H.261 and MPEG-1 in terms of quality.) And finally, the BBC did an extensive search for anything that might hit their Dirac codec and came up blank, as well as proposing (and then withdrawing once published, so they count as prior art) some patents themselves, so Dirac is in the running too.

Theora? If I was a commercial concern, I would avoid it. I'd go for the predictability of a licensable codec ahead of one that almost certainly would be a target for patent lawsuits if it ever achieves critical mass, and possibly earlier.

I might feel differently if Xiph didn't play word games with the term "Patent free", and gave a straight answer on the issues of actual patents people have found, rather than turning around and saying "Yeah, we ran it by a lawyer, and they said we're OK, but we're not going to tell you why because it's our super secret defense we'll use if we're ever sued", which doesn't exactly inspire confidence, especially as nobody will ever sue Xiph anyway (Xiph just writes the software, they leave the packaging, compiling, possible selling, and actual using to everyone else.)

Re:You know.. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#29550477)

Unless it becomes popular, in which case the so-called "submarine" (actually they may not even be submarine) patents will come to the fore, and you'll have to pay... I'd go for the predictability of a licensable codec ahead of one that almost certainly would be a target for patent lawsuits if it ever achieves critical mass,

Ludicrous FUD. Did concerns like this make anyone even pause, for a heartbeat, before considering H.264?

Nothing about Theora's "open-ness" makes it more likely to be hit by a submarine patent than any proprietary project.

And remember, it was originally proprietary, and is covered by a few patents, which have been released to the public domain -- so if your argument is that having something patented once means it's less likely to be infringing on someone else's patents, even if that was ever a valid argument, it fails here.

having seen the silence over, say, Vorbis's apparent infringement of US Patent 5,214,742.

The conclusion I find from a quick Google search is that, really, any corporation interested in these should be doing their own due diligence. So, I'd ask Google, since, among other things, Chrome distributes a Theora decoder.

I might feel differently if Xiph didn't play word games with the term "Patent free", and gave a straight answer on the issues of actual patents people have found, rather than turning around and saying "Yeah, we ran it by a lawyer, and they said we're OK, but we're not going to tell you why

So, I'd run it by a lawyer myself.

especially as nobody will ever sue Xiph anyway

Except whatever business model Xiph has, whatever credibility they have, would evaporate if someone was ever successfully sued over Theora. So, if their "we ran it by a lawyer" story isn't completely bullshit, they'd certainly share that secret the second anyone was actually sued.

But no one has been, even with a few relatively large commercial entities using Theora.

No wonder Open Source doesn't catch on (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549273)

With stupid nerd-sounding names like Theora, Thusnelda and Ogg.

Re:No wonder Open Source doesn't catch on (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29550581)

Call me troll all you want, it's fucking true.

You don't see real commercial companies releasing products with nerdy names like fucking Theora, Thusnelda or "Ogg".

Jesus fucking christ... "Ogg"... that sounds like a fucking grunt from a fucking caveman.

Great, but... (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549459)

One of the big problems with open source encoders is not that the encoders are efficient, but rather that they're hard to use. MediaCoder, for example -- it took me several hours to figure out how to encode a single DVD, and when ripping something like Invader Zim where there are a lot of chapters and different languages, it's anything but a clean job.

Re:Great, but... (2, Informative)

Delkster (820935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549795)

Encoders such as Theora, DVD rippers, and GUIs for these are pretty much separate things. Normally an end user doesn't even end up in any kind of direct interaction with a Theora encoder, or an H.264 encoder implementation such as x264. The article is about encoders, not GUI applications that use them.

While I don't know much about MediaCoder, judging from screenshots on the site it's clearly a front-end that binds together these features -- ripping, decoding, processing (scaling etc.), and re-encoding, and gives end users a GUI for using them. It might use open source ripping and encoding libraries in its back-end for actually implementing these technical tasks, or it might have its own implementations (which I doubt). How it presents that functionality and workflow to the user in its GUI is independent of the details of how exactly the encoding etc. have been implemented -- or at least it should be.

It's true that most F/OSS GUIs for DVD ripping and encoding suck, Handbrake probably being the closest one I've seen so far to being both featureful and providing a reasonably humane GUI for general video transcoding. However, for actual encoder implementations efficiency is indeed the prime focus. (How easy the actual encoders are to use also has some importance, but that's mostly a direct concern only to power users who use the encoders directly and for developers who write software that uses the encoders as a back-end.)

Someone's gotta say it... (3, Funny)

jejones (115979) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549475)

I hope that this version becomes widely used so that we can eventually read of the triumphs of Thusnelda.

(Oy vey, oy vey...)

Re:Someone's gotta say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549693)

Just by the way, Thusnelda (and especially the name's short form "Tussi") is nowadays quite a derogatory term in German, something along the lines of "skank" or "chavette".

Re:Someone's gotta say it... (2, Funny)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 4 years ago | (#29549753)

It would be more popular as the Legend of Thusnelda.

It's dangerous to go alone. Take this.

WTF is 'Theora' ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29549617)

A short description of what Theora actually *is* [theora.org] (a free and open video compression format) might have been useful to state in the article summary...
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