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Theora Development Continues Apace, VP8 Now Open Source

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the long-term-vision dept.

Media 312

SergeyKurdakov writes "Monty 'xiphmont' Montgomery of the Xiph Foundation says the latest action-packed, graph- and demo-clip-stuffed Theora project update page (demo 9) is now up for all and sundry! Catch up on what's gone into the new Theora encoder Ptalarbvorm over the last few months. It also instructs how to pronounce 'Ptalarbvorm.' Ptalarbvorm is not a finished release encoder yet, though I've personally been using it in production for a few months. Pace on improvements hasn't slowed down — the subjective psychovisual work being done by Tim Terriberry and Greg Maxwell has at least doubled-again on the improvements made by Thusnelda, and they're not anywhere near done yet. As a bonus Monty gathered all Xiph demo pages in one place." Also on the video codec front, and also with a Xiph connection, atamido writes "Google has released On2's VP8 video codec to the world, royalty-free. It is packaging it with Vorbis audio, in a subset of the Matroska container, and calling it WebM. It's not branded as an exclusively Google project — Mozilla and Opera are also contributors. Builds of your favorite browsers with full support are available." An anonymous reader points out this technical analysis of VP8.

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312 comments

HTML5 video (4, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268022)

As far as HTML5 Video goes, a new upcoming Flash will make things even more interesting and mix them up. The final version of Adobe Flash 10.1 supports P2P to reduce the bandwidth costs for site owners [torrentfreak.com] . It works out of the box too, so users can still get the video normally streamed, but it will seriously lower bandwidth usage and hence costs for video streaming sites. This same P2P feature also works for both on-demand and live video aswell as Flash based multiplayer games.

Live streaming should have some common specs too, but P2P streaming requires such to be made into the standard so it works for all. It's a quite large feature for site owners too, since it dramatically lowers bandwidth costs.

I don't think we will still see Flash going away, even if we at some point can even decide about the codec used for HTML5 Video. There's still too many features Flash has that HTML5 Video doesn't support at all.

Re:HTML5 video (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268056)

I wonder if Adobe's P2P features are going to have a TOS as sinister as the one Octoshape, a prior 3rd party implementation of the same idea, had?

Re:HTML5 video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268136)

So much for do not evil. They are apparently trying to take over the web.

Re:HTML5 video (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268072)

It's a good thing you got in quick and early with this vaguely related comment so you could start the same old tired Apple flame war again. It'll be nice to get a rehash of yesterday's arguments.

Re:HTML5 video (4, Insightful)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268124)

P2P with the new version of Flash? Yupp thank-god for Flashblock.

Re:HTML5 video (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268156)

User can agree or disagree to participate in it

Towes explained that Stratus users will first have to agree to participate in a P2P-enabled Flash swarm, similar to how they are now asked to indicate whether Flash can use their webcam. If users do not want to share bandwidth, the broadcaster has the option to offer a regular stream, a degraded stream or no stream at all.

Re:HTML5 video (2, Insightful)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268656)

so, if I don't want to share my bandwidth, the site I'm trying to view from has the option to give me a crappy version (or no version at all) of what I'm trying to view.

Wow. That'll kill flash faster than steve jobs ever could. "give us your bandwidth or no cookie".

Re:HTML5 video (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268178)

I was thinking this too. Plenty of people who have bandwidth caps are going to be none too pleased either. I know they say that people will have an option to choose whether to allow "p2pflash" or not, but that doesn't state if it will run when you're not watching videos.

Re:HTML5 video (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268130)

Ballmer's Cock Jock is out in full force with a post that has almost nothing to do with current topic. As a bonus, watch idiot Slashdot moderators mod it up (along with sopssa's sockpuppets) to +insightful or some other fucktardation level. I mean some vague and captain obvious style post about Flash shit in a post about Xiph, Theora and VP8 should be modded to +5 insightful right?

AM I RITE GUYZ!?

OT: Flash P2P vs. privacy (5, Insightful)

crow (16139) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268188)

So if you want to see who is watching a given YouTube (or porn site) video, just watch it yourself, and then watch your network while the flash player is still active.

Re:HTML5 video (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268312)

Instead of serving the media from a central server, users will provide the necessary bandwidth.

I wonder what happens if there are no users with that video stored on their drive. I certainly don't store the youtube videos I watch - they get erased immediately.

Re:HTML5 video (0)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268388)

The P2P functionality is there just to easy off the bandwidth requirements for the server. If no user is watching or has the video, it will stream normally from the server. This works extremely well with popular videos or live streams.

Re:HTML5 video (2, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268324)

Well. Damn.

This looks like almost exactly the same functionality that we were developing. Though we used a java applet for P2P that recombined the signals into a stream that would run on almost any player: flash, quicktime, silverlight media player, embedded windows media player, and many more. We even had a setup that would detect other clients on the local network and they would all source from the same feed, allowing any number of local clients at no additional external bandwidth usage.

We were in the final stages of testing early in 2009, I jumped ship when paychecks started coming in late and a few months before the venture capitalists pulled the plug for good.

Re:HTML5 video (0, Troll)

soppsa (1797376) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268590)

Does slashdot somehow page you when a new article is posted so you can get a first post, or are you really that bored...

Re:HTML5 video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268630)

Adobe is also planning on supporting WebM in Flash, so it'll support VP8 and Vorbis out of box.

Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (3, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268030)

I, for one, welcome our new open codec overlords.

Woohoo! Much good [pcworld.com] will come of this.

And all you closed, patent encumbered codec trolls: please go away now. Your services are no longer required.

The project is also backed by hardware partners such as AMD, ARM, and Nvidia. "Hardware acceleration is extremely important." Sunder Pichai, Google vice president of product management (From TheRegister link).

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268092)

But is it really patent free?

Ogg Theora has had this problem for some time, yes it was open but there was no way of knowing if there were hidden patents so it didn't become popular.

It only takes a few whispered words about patents before everyone but a few dedicated people abandon the project or start paying "protection" money to trolls.

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (2, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268192)

You can never know for sure, unless you've went through all the patents. However I'm sure since it's On2 their lawyers have looked at it.

However, it doesn't mean it's completely patent free. Google still owns all the patents and gives a patent license to use it. They're promising it's royalty-free.

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268224)

Google are a search company. They have a complete patent library.

There's every possibility that they have, in fact, gone through all the patents.

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (4, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268284)

Google are a search company. They have a complete patent library.

There's every possibility that they have, in fact, gone through all the patents.

The trouble is even that wont give you an authoritative answer under this screwed up patent regime. So yes it's a fair assumption that both Theora and WebM have been thoroughly checked out by legal. It's also a fair assumption they found some patents that might appear to apply to them (this will be the case for anything you do) and that legal concluded those patents were invalid and would be defeated in court were they asserted. It's a fair assumption that the holders of those patents would have already asserted them if their own legal teams did not concurr that the risk of invalidation was high. But until and unless they actually go to court, no one can know for sure.

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268594)

listen retard, when you don't know what you're talking about (and you obviously don't), just shut the fuck up, ok?

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (3, Insightful)

quickOnTheUptake (1450889) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268690)

I just want to point out 2 things more or less relevant to this thread:
First, google paid over $124 million for this codec, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say they dropped a penny or two on legal to figure out just what they were getting before they made the check out.
Second, they are using this codec themselves (in chrome, on youtube, etc). They have a vested interest in defending it from patent suits, if those suits should arise.

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268276)

However, it doesn't mean it's completely patent free. Google still owns all the patents and gives a patent license to use it. They're promising it's royalty-free.

Which is brilliant. If you're a small open-source group, you're a huge target for patent lawsuits due to your lack of resources. Someone is going to think twice before suing Google (or, if not think twice, have an uphill battle against their significant legal department).

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268626)

If you're a small open-source group, then you probably aren't rich enough to be a target of patent trolls.

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (2, Insightful)

rattaroaz (1491445) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268384)

You can never know for sure, unless you've went through all the patents.

Unfortunately, even then, that means nothing. Just because someone reviewed each and every patent in existence and doesn't think there is patent infringement, doesn't mean someone else will review the same information and disagree. So the question is really of high risk versus low risk for patent infringement, rather than yes or no. To me, it seem like h264 is guaranteed patent infringement, while VP8 is low risk, given that the distribution license has a patent clause.

It is not patent free (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268500)

But that's a good thing. Google in fact holds patents on it. Why is this good? Well they give people a license to use it, free of charge. However the license is revoked if (and only if) you file a patent infringement suit against VP8. So this means if someone sues them, they can no longer implement VP8 in their products in any form. Also, since Google has patents, they have those to fire back with. If the patent filer infringes on any of those, they are in trouble, again since the license to use them is revoked.

Basically, there really isn't any harm. I mean yes, Google could take away the ability to get new licenses at some point if they wanted, but that's true even with no patents. However as the license stands you are free and clear, and they cannot revoke it, except if you file an infringement lawsuit over VP8.

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (4, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268220)

Unfortunately the patent system is so broken there just is no way to authoritatively declare anything patent-free.

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (-1, Troll)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268352)

But is it really patent free?

Almost certainly not, since many parts of it are very similar (or identical) to h.264 (and yet it still manages to come up significantly inferior by lacking some of the most important bits).

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (1)

Homburg (213427) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268386)

Note that H264 has exactly the same problem, that is, you can pay the MPEG-LA licensing fees, but there's no way of knowing if that covers all of the patents involved. The advantage that H264 did have was the backing of the major players involved with the MPEG-LA, who might have enough muscle to scare off patent trolls; Theora perhaps didn't have the same level of legal support. With VP8 being backed by Google and some other pretty big companies, it has the power to fight (or buy - Google's patent license seems to convey a royalty-free license to any patent Google could license, not just the ones it owns) off patent trolls.

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (2, Informative)

gehrehmee (16338) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268552)

Is H264 incumbered by any patents not held by the MPEG-LA? Their argument is that if you pay to use their codec, you're in the clear patent-wise, but there's no guarantee that another 3rd party won't pull out a patent they're infringing.... and the MPEG-LA has stated they're going to start charging everybody for access to H264 anyways.

Theora and VP8 are in a better position patent-wise anyways. They both have tearms that have done searches patents (i believe VP8 has, I *know* Theora has), and they've publicly said that you're not going to get in trouble for using their stuff, EVER.

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268632)

But is it really patent free?

From reading this analysis [multimedia.cx] it doesn't seem like it is to me.

Re:Welcome, our new open codec overlords! (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268794)

Even MPEG-LA acknowledges that there may be patents on h.264 that they do not hold and that paying them does not protect you from these possible patent claims.

First in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268070)

Analysis can be found here. [multimedia.cx] Comparison pictures to other codecs are included.

Re:First in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268206)

WARNING! The "Analysis" consists of goatse images encoded in several different video formats.

Mod Parent Down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268292)

Ignore the troll.

Re:Mod Parent Down (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268758)

Says the idiot who replied to it, and myself, the third-party idiot who is pointing this out here.

Re:First in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268650)

There are lies, damned lies, and trolls. Parent has all 3 categories covered.

Re:First in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (2, Insightful)

Virak (897071) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268300)

While an excellent analysis, it unfortunately confirms all the worst fears I've had about VP8: The quality doesn't match up to H.264, it despite that also can't even match it in speed, the spec is apparently an unholy abomination, the implementation needs work, and most disappointingly of all, it appears there is serious risk of patent issues (largely due to blatantly ripping off various parts of H.264). If there's sufficient assurance that there won't be any patent troubles, it's at least an improvement for patent-unencumbered codecs, but as it stands I'm far less unenthusiastic about it than when I first heard about Google acquiring On2.

Re:First in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (-1, Offtopic)

Virak (897071) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268374)

Far less enthusiastic, that is. Me English good.

Also what the hell is up with Slashdot's posting rate limiter? It complains about how long it's been since you last posted but it acts like it instead checks against how long it's been since you last tried posting. While it's amusing to be able to have it telling you that posting twice in a half-hour span is too fast, it's also incredibly annoying.

Re:First in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268396)

With respect to quality, it's better than either Theora and Dirac, and it's also better than H.264 Baseline. If I understand correctly, the latter is largely what is used on the Net today (including YouTube), and enjoys most hardware decoding support.

With respect to patents, the big difference between WebM and Theora is that the former has Google's corporate backing - they are the ones standing in line to be sued first if MPEG LA (or someone else) decides to do so. Needless to say, they have far more legal resources than Xiph.

I do wonder what they're going to do about hardware support, though. On one hand, I'd imagine that Google will now push this through as a requirement for Android platform (yet another benefit of corporate backing). On the other, I'm not sure if that is going to be enough.

Re:First in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (4, Interesting)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268452)

Hardware support will be good on the TI OMAP line of cellphone chips, which include an actual programmable DSP (instead of a hardcoded decoder). There's already a Theora implementation for them. These chips are used e.g. on the Droid and the N900.

Re:First in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (1)

Virak (897071) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268550)

Yes, like I said, it's still an improvement for patent-unencumbered codecs (if it truly is such). But while I certainly didn't think On2's claims of 50% greater quality than H.264 were anything more than blatant bullshit, I at least figured it'd be on roughly the same level as H.264, not just barely better than the Baseline profile. Before this, I was thinking, "hey, maybe I can start switching over to VP8 for my own encodes once the encoder gets a bit of work done on it". Now, not so much. I'm understandably thus a bit disappointed.

And while having a behemoth like Google behind it is certainly nice, I'm still far more confident about Theora, as it has been out in the open for much longer without problems, and doesn't quite so freely "borrow" from recent and heavily patented standards.

Re:First in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268644)

And while having a behemoth like Google behind it is certainly nice, I'm still far more confident about Theora, as it has been out in the open for much longer without problems, and doesn't quite so freely "borrow" from recent and heavily patented standards.

Well, all it takes is one patent, either way...

And I don't think that longer exposure for Theora is a sign of anything in particular - the real question is, has it actually being used by anyone worth suing (i.e. with enough cash to part) in all those years? If not, then it would make perfect sense for any would-be patent trolls to wait until it is more widely adopted to have more lucrative targets.

Re:First in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268596)

They may just make a deal with TI, A/D and other like companies. Offer technical expertise and maybe development dollars. There's no royalties so it lets them add functionality to their chips. They like that, as it gives companies reasons to want to buy new versions.

Re:First in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (-1, Troll)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268422)

No thanks, I'll take an objective analysis over a rushed out piece of FUD from non-credible ffmpeg/x264 developers [xiph.org] any day.

Re:First in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268586)

Google apparently listened to the "FUD from non-credible ffmpeg/x264 developers". If you haven't noticed they picked Matroska as their container format for WebML, not OGG which the article you linked is defending and which has been accused of having design deficiencies by the FFMpeg devs.

Re:First in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268502)

Thanks much for the link.

Intra prediction is used to guess the content of a block without referring to other frames.

How the heck does that work? "Well I think Pinocchio's nose is growing in this frame, so I'll add some motion blur." - Pentium CPU. ???

Inter prediction is used to guess the content of a block by referring to past frames

The Commodore Amiga was probably the first home PC to do this. Rather than store all ~40,000 frames of the Dragon's Lair or Space Ace laserdisc games, it stored only a few key frames and then filled-in the gaps in-between. They also used rotoscoping (fixed backgrounds; moving foregrounds). That allowed it to fit these laserdiscs on just 3 floppies (1.7MB each). Not bad for a machine released in 1985.

Overall, VP8 appears to be significantly weaker than H.264 compression-wise.

Agreed..... I can tell just by looking at identical bitrate videos.

IE9 Will Support VP8 Playback (2, Informative)

Radhruin (875377) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268098)

Read the blog post [windowsteamblog.com] . Needless to say, this is astounding.

Re:IE9 Will Support VP8 Playback (2, Insightful)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268168)

Keyword(s);

"when the user has installed a VP8 codec on Windows."

They've already said they'll support any codec installed on the machine. But they're only going to bundle H.264.

Re:IE9 Will Support VP8 Playback (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268238)

No they didn't, they said they would support ONLY h.264 no more than a few weeks ago, regardless of what the user had installed in the machine.

Re:IE9 Will Support VP8 Playback (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268278)

No they didn't, they said they would support ONLY h.264 no more than a few weeks ago, regardless of what the user had installed in the machine.

citation required

Re:IE9 Will Support VP8 Playback (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268294)

Citation: http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2010/05/03/follow-up-on-html5-video-in-ie9.aspx [msdn.com]

We’ve read some follow up discussion about support for more than the H.264 codec in IE9’s HTML5 video tag.

To be clear, users can install other codecs for use in Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center. For web browsers, developers can continue to offer plug-ins (using NPAPI or ActiveX; they are effectively equivalent in this scenario) so that webpages can play video using these codecs on Windows. For example, webpages will still be able to play VC-1 (Microsoft WMV) files in IE9. A key motivator for improving the codec support in Windows 7 was to reduce the need that end-users might have to download additional codecs. The security risks regarding downloadable codecs and associated malware are documented and significant. By building on H.264 for HTML5 video functionality, we provide a higher level of certainty regarding the security of this aspect of browsing and our web platform.

Re:IE9 Will Support VP8 Playback (2, Informative)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268260)

They've already said they'll support any codec installed on the machine.

Actually, no. What they said was that they would support EMBEDDING of any format using the <embed> or <object> tags. The <video> tag was going to be H.264 only (no matter what you had installed on your machine).

So that implies the question, did they mean "support" by means of the embedding, or support by means of the <video> tag...

Re:IE9 Will Support VP8 Playback (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268470)

This is specifically about HTML5 video. Quote:


In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video as well as VP8 video when the user has installed a VP8 codec on Windows.
...
Again, we want to be clear about our intent to support the same markup in the open and interoperable web. We are strongly committed to making sure that in IE9 you can safely view all types of content in all widely used formats. When it comes to video and HTML5, we’re all in. In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video as well as VP8 video when the user has installed a VP8 codec on Windows.

So yes, this is, indeed, astounding. So far as I can see, this is the end of HTML5 codec wars - if IE, Firefox, Chrome and Opera are all going to support it, it has the critical mass to become a de facto standard - and I wouldn't be surprised if they'll now re-raise the issue of specifying a baseline codec (VP8, obviously) for HTML5 video spec.

By the way, it seems that Microsoft is trying to dodge the potential patent bullet here by requiring that VP8 codecs are installed separately by the user for IE9 to pick them up - so long as codec doesn't ship with IE, MS is not liable if it is indeed a patent bomb. I'd imagine that Google would provide a "web pack" containing them for the benefit of IE users.

Anyway, I'm glad they have it all worked out, especially Microsoft. I still wonder where Apple is going to stand on this, but, frankly, it probably isn't going to matter anymore.

Re:IE9 Will Support VP8 Playback (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268272)

No, they didn't. They specifically said they would not. The relevant quote is:

http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2010/04/29/html5-video.aspx [msdn.com]
"In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video only."

Now they say they'll support H.264, and VP8 if the codec is installed (http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2010/05/19/another-follow-up-on-html5-video-in-ie9.aspx). Since this post happened literally the same day that this became an option, it sounds like this contingency plan had been in place ahead of time.

Re:IE9 Will Support VP8 Playback (1)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268476)

So it's much the same way that Safari supports Ogg Theora/Vorbis video and audio - once you've installed the free XiphQT [xiph.org] QuickTime® component...

(XiphQT's not that bad - it makes the entire QuickTime®-using system able to understand Ogg file formats and the Xiph codecs, not just the browser. Even so, it's still one additional component that needs to be installed.)

Re:IE9 Will Support VP8 Playback (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268542)

It doesn't matter. Adobe have said they're going to put VP8/WebM into Flash. As Flash auto-upgrades around the world, eventually everyone will be able to play this video format regardless of what browser they use.

WebM/VP8 patent risk for software developers (4, Interesting)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268120)

Google says it holds certain patents on the VP8 video codec that is part of WebM but there's no assurance that Google's patents are the only patents required. What about patents that third parties could assert? While it appears to be a nice gesture if a major player releases software on open source terms, it's imperative to perform a well-documented patent clearance.

Developers should be provided with detailed explanations why Google believes that no one adopting WebM will have to fear allegations of patent infringement. Otherwise those developers might be exposed to considerable risk. It wouldn't be possible to check on millions of different patents but at the very least I think Google should look at the patents held by the MPEG LA pool as well as patents held by some well-known 'trolls' and explain why those aren't infringed. Programmers have a right to get that information so they can make an informed decision for themselves whether to take that risk or not.

It's not unreasonable to ask Google to perform a well-documented patent clearance because they certainly have the resources in place while most open source developers don't.

The situation surrounding Android shows that Google might opt to stand on the sidelines if those adopting its open source technologies -- such as HTC -- are sued by patent holders. I can't find any promise on the WebM website that Google would come to the aid of third parties adopting the technology, so Google should at least help everyone to assess the risk.

We all know Steve Jobs' recent email [slashdot.org] in which he said a patent pool was being assembled to go after open source codecs. So the patent question is really a critical one. Also, this in-depth analysis [multimedia.cx] by an X.264 developer shows that VP8 and H.264 are so similar that the risk of patent infringement could be substantial.

I have previously called for this kind of patent clearance, in connection with the open source Theora codec as well as with VP8, here on slashdot as well as on my blog, such as in this post [blogspot.com] .

Counter-Strike is dead; long live Counter-Suit (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268274)

What about patents that third parties could assert?

It's Google for cricket's sake. Check this new (hypothetical) addition to the Google Search TOS: "You agree not to sue a user of any video codec based on VP3 or VP8 for violating any patent that you claim is essential to implementation of such codec." Even if that wouldn't fly, Google still has a load of patents with which it can countersue any third party that isn't a pure-play non-practicing entity.

The idea of Google countersuing isn't realistic (3, Interesting)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268416)

Google still has a load of patents with which it can countersue any third party that isn't a pure-play non-practicing entity.

No, Google isn't a patent powerhouse. Its patent portfolio is only a fraction of the size of Apple, for an example, and even Apple isn't extremely big compared to some others. Look at this analysis [edibleapple.com] , for an example:

In a recent investor note from Deutsche Bank, analyst Chris Whitmore compares the patent libraries of Apple, Google, and HTC. What he found was that in the past few years, Apple has been issued 3,000 patents, Google has been issued 316 patents, and HTC has been issued a measly 58 patents.

Also, if Google had the ability to do this, why would they stand on the sidelines when Android adopters such as HTC are being sued or when royalties are collected from them?

Re:WebM/VP8 patent risk for software developers (1)

renrutal (872592) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268408)

Software developers already live taking patent risks just by doing their work, developing software. Media encoding isn't the only patent elephant stomping in our lawn, we're pretty much surrounded by thousands, specially ye ol' $PATENT which just now happened to be implemented on the internet or on a smartphone/tablet/portable device of the week.

If you are afraid of software patents, I'm afraid you have to look for a job in another area where you don't even come close to inventing/designing anything.

x264 dev did a technical review (4, Interesting)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268158)

http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/?p=377 [multimedia.cx]

They don't seem that impressed. It is less robust than H.264, in some places seems to outright copy it. Google is offering no patent indemnification (from the article: "this is a patent time-bomb waiting to happen.")

They give it credit for being the best open source format out there, but they fault it generally in every other category.

X264 dev doesn't like VP8. Color me shocked. (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268248)

Here's a contrary point of view, with video. [on2.com]

Re:X264 dev doesn't like VP8. Color me shocked. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268334)

On the one hand we have a detailed point by point analysis of the spec and screenshot from an upcoming encoder comparison featuring different video formats with encoders set up to provide maximum quality that can be replicated by anyone. On the other hand we have On2 marketing material.
Seriously you want me to believe in the latter?

Re:X264 dev doesn't like VP8. Color me shocked. (3, Insightful)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268354)

I would take the X264 dev's opinion over the company that originally designed the format... The X264 dev also posted screenshots of their results, and VP8 did not turn out very impressive.

Not to mention, On2 (who again, designed VP8) offers no technical analysis, while the X264 dev did a code level analysis.

I'm not saying the X264 folks won't have bias, but at least they're more neutral and did a spec level review.

Re:X264 dev doesn't like VP8. Color me shocked. (2, Insightful)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268536)

Honestly, you've got On2 on the side supporting VP8 and X264 on the of h.264. Neither side seems to be free of conflict of interest.

Re:X264 dev doesn't like VP8. Color me shocked. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268600)

Don't you think On2 is just a bit biased? In every other direct comparison I've seen, the MPEG4 AVC (x.264) was better.

Namefail (3, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268164)

OK, I get that Ogg and Theora and Vorbis, etc., are interesting geek in-jokes. They are also horribly crappy product names. You and I might have no problem with them, but I guarantee that 95% of non-geeks will dismiss "Ptalarbvorm" as stupid and confusing without ever evaluating it. Pro-tip: if you need a pronunciation guide, then you desperately need to pick a better name. Yes, better, as in "the current one sucks and should be taken out back and shot".

Re:Namefail (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268360)

Yeah and names like "IEEE 802.3" are so much better? We can go back over time to things like PCMCIA and SCSI. Give me a break. Weird names have been in tech forever.

I think the general public gave up looking for sane tech product names a LONG time ago. Nobody attaches any significance to them. Products sell and people don't care about the buzzwords as long as the product functions.

Re:Namefail (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268524)

Yeah and names like "IEEE 802.3" are so much better? We can go back over time to things like PCMCIA and SCSI.

Yes, those names are better. They're awkward abbreviations that derive from standards documents or technical names that make sense. They're not pretty, but they have an excuse for being weird. The Ogg names, though, are just odd and/or unpronounceable for the sake of being odd and/or unpronounceable.

Re:Namefail (0, Flamebait)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268614)

As obtuse as PCMCIA and SCSI are as names, they're far easier to recognize at a glance (even if SCSI's pronunciation became "scuzzy", which probably isn't what they had in mind when they made the acronym) than Pfnartlekaboom, or however it's supposed to be pronounced. The consumer world really, REALLY doesn't want to have to read a pronunciation guide just to figure out how to say it, let alone take advanced classes just to spell it. If Phunklezoom as a technology catches on, I can assure you the common name will become "Vorm" or something similar within a month.

And I don't think 802.3, the IEEE standard for the physical and link layers, ever really gained name recognition in the not-geek consumer world (CAT-5, 10baseT, 100baseT, all yes, 802.3, not so much).

Of course, H.264 is also a pretty lame name...

PCMCIA was a winner! (1)

BancBoy (578080) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268714)

PCMCIA - People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms
And SCSI was SASI! Or was that the other way around? I think I remember wet SCSI being able to hot mount disks.

Sex sells!

Re:Namefail (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268762)

Well, "PCMCIA" may not be the sexiest name in the world, but if you can't pronounce or spell it trivially you should probably take a refresher course on the alphabet. Even more so for USB, SATA, MP3, or AVC.

And people most definitely care about tech product and standard names, even if they have no idea why they care. Why? Because companies tell them they should care through very clever and persistent marketing. I don't know how many times I have been asked questions by non-technical friends or relatives throwing around terms like "USB", "Cat-5", "GigE", "Wifi N", "SATA", "JPEG", "HDMI", etc, when they couldn't possible explain what they stand for, let alone what they are really mean. They just know that they want their products to have them because they were included in an ad or printed on the outside of the box. Plus, everyone likes to feel like they have learned something technical, even if it's just a word definition.

Add "now with Ptalarbvorm support" and see if anyone figures out how to spell it, let alone look it up.

Re:Namefail (1)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268494)

I think you'll find that is its codename, the release itself is called "Theora 1.2". Like Vista was called 'Longhorn' and XP was called 'Whistler' or whatever.

Re:Namefail (3, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268538)

Personally, I didn't even know what "Vorbis" means (or that it is even supposed to mean anything) for the first few years of using it rather extensively. It sounds like a nice name to me, even on its own. Same for Theora. What's wrong with them? They aren't offensive, they are distinctive, they are easy to pronounce (Vorbis perhaps more so) - so what's the problem?

Re:Namefail (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268602)

I actually like "Theora". "Vorbis" is... well, it's not my favorite, but I can pronounce it. I always visualize "Ogg" as carved in stone. It seems to go downhill quickly after those, though.

Re:Namefail (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268582)

I was thinking the same thing. No wonder no one outside of open source AV geeks have ever heard of any of these standards.

"It's a Ptalarbvorm/Vorbis Matroska stream" it just plain awful. I guess there just aren't enough open source marketing volunteers...

It's a codename (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268598)

I guarantee that 95% of non-geeks will dismiss "Ptalarbvorm"

People won't call Theora 1.2 "Ptalarbvorm" any more than they call Windows Vista "Longhorn". Referring to software products by their version codenames seems to be restricted to Debian (e.g. lenny), Ubuntu (e.g. Lucid Lynx), and Mac OS X (e.g. Snow Leopard).

Re:Namefail (1)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268604)

I'm still not convinced that Vorbis, Ogg, or Theora are really all that bad...but even I have to concede that there's just no hope for "ptalarbvorm" (even worse than "Thusnelda").

However, isn't the codec really still "Theora"? "Ptalarbvorm" and "Thusnelda" are just code-names for particular generations of the encoder, and presumably not really intended for use outside the relatively small community of developers.

Or so I am assuming, anyway.

PNG is officially pronounced ping (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268642)

Pro-tip: if you need a pronunciation guide, then you desperately need to pick a better name.

Tell that to the authors of the PNG [libpng.org] spec: "'PNG' is always spelled 'PNG' (or 'Portable Network Graphics') and always pronounced 'ping' in English." Yes, that's "ping" as in "Snooping as usual, I see" [youtube.com] .

Re:Namefail (1)

ink (4325) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268696)

I doubt "Chrome" is a terrific name to someone who only speaks Japanese. Firefox probably doesn't make much sense to a person in Brazil. IE is horrible, even in English.

In the end, if youtube requires it, people will install/upgrade it.

Re:Namefail (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268706)

Ogg - "Ogg derives from ogging, jargon from the computer game Netrek, which came to mean doing something forcefully, possibly without consideration of the drain on future resources."
Vorbis - "named after the Terry Pratchett character from the book Small Gods."
Theora - "named after Theora Jones, Edison Carter's Controller on the Max Headroom television program" - wikipedia
Ptalarbvorm - no idea.

I think Ogg is rather lame, but Vorbis and Theora are better than HE-AAC v2 or h.268, as far as marketing goes.

WebM (VP8) license: will it be approved by OSI? (3, Interesting)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268174)

WebM is available under a new license [webmproject.org] . So far haven't been able to find out whether Google will try to get this license OSI-approved [opensource.org] .

The 3-clause BSD license (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268742)

The WebM license consists of two portions: a copyright license and a patent license. The copyright license is identical to the 3-clause BSD license, which is already OSI approved.

betamax again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32268190)

h264 vs theora vs webm vs flash

this is dog balls

h.264 will win and you know it's true.

And there was much rejoicing !.... (2, Interesting)

DrYak (748999) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268252)

Yet Another Codec, both Gratis AND Freedom ?
Supported by a fuck-ton of companies ?
- among which not only the major player which made better the modern web as we know it (All the companies mentioned in the summary. Basically anything beside Microsoft)
- but also several hardware industry backers [blogspot.com] (like major such as ARM, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments) ?
(We can expect a "WebM accelerated on embed chip's GPU+DSP" Google Summer of Code poping up this year...)

Well, thank you Google ! That's pretty much good news !!!

Only question : How will be the HTML5 standards organised ? Will it be possible to mix and match the various codecs (Theora, VP8, ...) with the various containers (OGG, Matroska, ...) ? Or will it be specified only as defined combination (WebM = Matroska + VP8 + Vorbis ; ??? = OGG + Theora + Vorbis, H264 = MP4 + Mpeg 4 AVC/h264 + AAC) ?

Re:And there was much rejoicing !.... (3, Informative)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268430)

How will be the HTML5 standards organised

The HTML standard just says "play video here" just like the image tag just says "show picture here" it's up to the browser to decide how to do this, and up to the web developer to use a file format that's supported by people looking at their website.

Re:And there was much rejoicing !.... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268788)

They aren't talking about making VP8 a part of HTML5 standard yet. So far, HTML5 spec doesn't specify video codecs at all.

VP8 won't replace MPEG 4 AVC (H.264) (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268268)

It doesn't produce the same quality, or else produces the same quality but require 1.5 times higher bitrates. Although it probably is better than Flash, and would be a good replacement for that.

Re:VP8 won't replace MPEG 4 AVC (H.264) (5, Funny)

Arker (91948) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268328)

You, sir, obviously dont have a clue what you are talking about. For starters, flash isnt even a codec. You're comparing a container to a codec, that's not even apples and oranges, that's apples and boxes.

Re:VP8 won't replace MPEG 4 AVC (H.264) (5, Insightful)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268378)

Well, if streaming media has proved *anything* over the years, it's that the general public doesn't care if the compression ruins the work as long as they can play it for free.

Reference the following:
* RealMedia
* Most Youtube videos, "fan reposts" aka re-encodes, and re-re-encodes
* Low bitrate MP3
* JPEG (ok, it's not streaming, but still - "needs more JPEG artifacts")
* Screeners, cams, and foreign translations from the DIVX Discount Theatre
* Webcams
* Most QuickTime videos
* Most AVIs
* Most streaming video on Flash today
* Cable and satellite delivered HD content

Really, the only thing you need to say is "free" and people will at least give it a try.

Re:VP8 won't replace MPEG 4 AVC (H.264) (2, Insightful)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268662)

Hear, hear.

If you're running Big Media Pay-Per-View movies and television, I can understand that the quality of the picture might, maybe, be important. Then again, I've seen people happily watching Big Media "content" as horribly smeared/blurry-looking "digital HD cable", so maybe not even then.

I'm not sure how high-resolution helps improve videos of skater kids suffering accidental testicular trauma or kittens attacking inanimate objects...

Misconceptions concerning MSIE support for WebM (1)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268346)

Some journalists, bloggers and Twitter users appear to have misconceptions regarding the way Microsoft Internet Explorer will support WebM.

It's certainly very positive for Internet Explorer users that they can play WebM video/audio provided that they have a codec (meaning, a plug-in) installed. That's what the Windows Team blog [windowsteamblog.com] states as a technical requirement.

However, that just means flexibility for MSIE users and isn't a major breakthrough for WebM/VP8. Internet Explorer has always allowed plug-ins and I don't even know if it's ever tried to block one. So this isn't the same kind of endorsement of WebM/VP8 as if Internet Explorer came with WebM support on board. If that happened, it would also mean that there aren't any remaining concerns over patent issues. But that's not what has happened.

Keep in mind that you can also view H.264 with Firefox if you have a plug-in. The net effect of the whole HTML 5 video situation is that plug-ins will continue to play a role [blogspot.com] .

Confused about HTLM5 video (2, Interesting)

uberzip (959899) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268440)

So can somebody clarify a few things related to html5 video for me? The video is encoded in one of these formats correct? ( H.264, WebM, etc). Then in html5 it is introduced into the page via some sort of video tag. So, if I'm using a browser that supports WebM, I still need it to support H.264 if I'm browsing a site that has videos encoded in H.264. Is this correct? So what is really the big deal about html5 vs playing video with a plug in? Just one less process running on the computer in favor of an additional browser process running (or a more bloated browser process)? Are the benefits that we now get tighter integration with the browser interface so you can now scale video or do weird stuff like rotations ala the firefox demo? In other words, is this really any different than, say, building quicktime playback natively into the browser rather than needing a plug-in? I understand that html5 offers a lot of new functionality but the video part of it seems unnecessary beyond removing a plug-in unless I'm not seeing something. And in some cases you still need a plug-in if your favorite browser doesn't support a certain kind encoded video. Thanks for any info.

non-native libraries? (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 3 years ago | (#32268792)

At work, we've been looking for a non-native, open source encoding library for a week or so now and can't really find anything. Do any of these have a non-native library available? (preferably Java. If not, we might port it). Even FMJ and fobs4jmf only seem to have decoders and even so, there are no examples on how to set it up without using JMStudio or a derivative of a manual setup or installation package.

We can't seem to find any useful examples of anything anywhere. It's great to hear about new encoding plugins etc, but if nobody can find a way to use them as standalone libraries (multi-platform is best. aka Java for us) then it's difficult to back. And not having examples on how to implement make a lot of these packages almost useless as they never seem to be user friendly...
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