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Royalty-Free MPEG Video Proposals Announced

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the good-times-ahead-and-clear-sailing dept.

Media 108

theweatherelectric writes "Rob Glidden notes on his blog that MPEG has recently 'announced it has received proposals for a royalty-free MPEG standard and has settled on a deliberation process to consider them.' There are two tracks toward royalty-free video currently under consideration by MPEG. The first track is IVC, a new standard 'based on MPEG-1 technology which is believed a safe royalty-free baseline that can be enhanced by additional unencumbered technology described in MPEG-2, JPEG, research publications and innovative technologies which are promised to be subject to royalty-free licenses.' The second proposed track is WebVC, an attempt to get the constrained baseline profile of H.264 licensed under royalty-free terms. Rob Glidden offers an analysis of both proposals. Also of interest is Rob's short history of why royalty-free H.264 failed last time."

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Good for Firefox (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38324988)

If this means that FF will finally become a useful browser in the modern web world then this is worth applauding.

Re:Good for Firefox (3, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325580)

I'd be more concerned about HTML V5, as both apple and MSFT are pushing like mad to lock it behind a paywall with H.264 which as we all know is patented so badly you can pretty much give up on FOSS ever having a free version, not for another 15-20 years at least.

This is why I never understood the FOSS flash hate or why they would run to embrace an obviously hostile to FOSS group like MPEG-LA over Adobe. Sure flash isn't the greatest but have you EVER seen them complain about a distro including flash? Hell they don't even complain about gnash and I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually open flash up. Compare this to MPEG-LA that basically went "Pay your $699 license fee you cock smoking teabagger!" to Firefox and made it QUITE clear you will NOT be shipping H.264 in a browser or OS without cutting a check. of course being proprietary both Apple and MSFT can and do just cut them a check and both want to "fucking kill Google" so they're just fine with H.264.

I just hope the developers here will put their money where their mouths are and refuse to touch HTML V5 until it has a free codec as the standard, be it Theora, be it WebM (which I think is quite nice actually) or be it the royalty free MPEG 1+2 in TFA. The web should be free to all, be you proprietary or FOSS, and ATM HTML V5 is anything but and that is before they add the MPAA DRM on top which i'm sure will never work in FOSS OSes as unlike Apple and MSFT they don't support kernel level DRM..

Re:Good for Firefox (1)

Alan Shutko (5101) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326152)

Flash contains the ability to play h.264 video. Are you saying that Adobe is friendlier to FOSS because they wrote the check and give you a binary to run in your FOSS browser?

Re:Good for Firefox (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329466)

Actually that is only fairly recently and I'd argue in large part because Apple refuses to support anything else. before that most of the flash video i came across was VP6 which is of course now completely free thanks to Google buying On2. As for the other poster...what's wrong with MP4? I LIKE MP4, its low resource, it plays nicely, especially the DivX and Xvid versions, and you can buy tons of sub $50 set top boxes that play the format. hell one of my biggest sellers to customers with kids is the Nbox settop which plays DivX and Xvid and is great for loading a HDD full of Dora vids on so little Becky doesn't cry when the disc gets scratched, so what is wrong with MP4?

Re:Good for Firefox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327428)

News for you: Even Adobe is giving up on Flash. Every time I can't interact with part of a webpage because it's fucking Flash, every time a Flash applet steals keyboard focus just because I hovered over it, every time a Flash ad stalls my browser or a Flash supercookie spies on me or an Adobe update crashes my system, I wish it wouldn't die so excruciatingly slowly. And just in case you haven't noticed, Flash video is what is keeping MP4 around.

Re:Good for Firefox (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329890)

Virtually every video card, whether discrete or integrated, sold in the past 5 years supports full H.264 bitstream decoding in hardware. This means the hardware vendor already paid the license fee. Why can't Firefox just use this feature (accessible via DXVA on Windows, and I believe VA-API on Linux) to stream H.264 in HTML5?

Re:Good for Firefox (1)

dave87656 (1179347) | more than 2 years ago | (#38332794)

Is there a way for the browser (or OS) to query the graphics card to find out if this support is available?

Re:Good for Firefox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38333456)

Of course there is...

Failed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38324990)

H.264 failed, did it? Then why is 99% of the video I have H.264?

Re:Failed? (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325024)

He's saying that the attempt to define a royalty-free "baseline" subset of h.264 was unsuccessful, not that h.264 itself failed.

Re:Failed? (-1, Troll)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325078)

Frankly, I don't really see any problems with H.264 licensing either. There isn't any costs involved in streaming, playing or showing H.264 content. The only cost is with authoring tools which are sold for a good amount of money anyway, and there is nothing wrong with charging some small percentage of the sales income from them. It's very telling that no one else has managed to come up with technology as good as H.264 - not even Google - because it is really good codec. Those who made it deserve to be paid for its usage too, because developing such isn't cheap. It's not your usual geek just working out in parents basement, it needs lots of people working on salary. Those programmers need to be paid too.

Re:Failed? (1)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325178)

[quote]There isn't any costs involved in streaming, playing or showing H.264 content.[/quote]

Really? Did they change the license without telling anyone?

Re:Failed? (4, Informative)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325210)

On August 26, 2010 MPEG LA announced that H.264 encoded internet video that is free to end users will never be charged for royalties.[10] All other royalties will remain in place such as the royalties for products that decode and encode H.264 video.[11]

Re:Failed? (4, Informative)

Vanders (110092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325246)

You said

There isn't any costs involved in streaming, playing or showing H.264 content.

The Wikipedia article you quote says

All other royalties will remain in place such as the royalties for products that decode and encode H.264 video.

So there is a cost to "play" or "show" H.264 encoded content.

Re:Failed? (2)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325274)

So basically the people watching the videos still have to pay license fees for the players they need to view them with, and the companies streaming the videos still need to pay license fees for the encoders required to produce the videos, MPEG LA have just graciously agreed not to charge a license fee for streaming them from the fee-paying encoders to the fee-paying decoders unless the end users have to pay for access.

Re:Failed? (2)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325424)

That is only if the content is "free to end users".

Re:Failed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325730)

On August 26, 2010 MPEG LA announced that H.264 encoded internet video that is free to end users will never be charged directly for royalties.[

FTFY

The MPEG-LA charges manufacturers who charge end users. Whats the difference?

Re:Failed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325206)

The free costs for web content are only temporary. And probably wouldn't still be free now if they weren't worried about some new codecs (theora and vp8) possibly getting a strong foothold.

Open source software which handles the H.264 codec isn't free to distribute in countries that support software patents.

Re:Failed? (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326796)

The free costs for web content are only temporary.

No, they are permanent.

Re:Failed? (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330350)

Yes there is something wrong with charging for them. The whole process must be free for the betterment of all mankind.

Is he implicitly admitting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38324992)

... that he thinks that VP8 isn't patent-unencumbered?

Re:Is he implicitly admitting... (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325100)

No. There has always been a goal of having a royalty free H.264 version. Even if it would be patent encumbered.

duh ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38324994)

Use Borg algorithmes

Or you can just... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325020)

Or you can just tell the MPEG-LA group to screw themselves and use VP8.

This "Intellectual Property" business is a bunch of crap.

Re:Or you can just... (1, Insightful)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325106)

And use inferior technology that is a patent minefield? At least with H.264 I can be certain that my business isn't going to be taken to court one day and I lose it all. With H.264 I don't need to worry about such, and I get better technology (and hardware decoders on almost every kind of device on planet that can show video).

Re:Or you can just... (5, Insightful)

Vanders (110092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325218)

And use inferior technology that is a patent minefield?

"Inferior" is subjective, and I'd love to see any proof you have that VP8/WebM is a "patent minefield".

At least with H.264 I can be certain that my business isn't going to be taken to court one day and I lose it all. With H.264 I don't need to worry about such

Where did you get such a silly idea from? An H.264 license simply provides you a license to the patented technologies in H.264 that are owned by the MPEG-LA members. There are no guarantees or indemnities against any non-MPEG-LA member from suing you and everyone else for using H.264.

The risk from submarine patents for H.264 is exactly the same as VP8.

Re:Or you can just... (4, Insightful)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325254)

The risk from submarine patents for H.264 is exactly the same as VP8.

No it's not. There are huge amount of companies, both big and small, using H.264. If there ever comes a problem with non-MPEG-LA member, I have a much smaller change of being directed alone. And even if I am, there are so much at play with H.264 that I'm sure to get help with it. You can't say the same for VP8. Hell, even Google isn't trusting VP8 enough to put it in HTML5 video draft.

As far as "subjective" quality issues go, this article [multimedia.cx] sums it up good:

VP8, as a spec, should be a bit better than H.264 Baseline Profile and VC-1. It's not even close to competitive with H.264 Main or High Profile. If Google is willing to revise the spec, this can probably be improved.

VP8, as an encoder, is somewhere between Xvid and Microsoft's VC-1 in terms of visual quality. This can definitely be improved a lot.

VP8, as a decoder, decodes even slower than ffmpeg's H.264. This probably can't be improved that much; VP8 as a whole is similar in complexity to H.264.

With regard to patents, VP8 copies too much from H.264 for comfort, no matter whose word is behind the claim of being patent-free. This doesn't mean that it's sure to be covered by patents, but until Google can give us evidence as to why it isn't, I would be cautious.

VP8 is definitely better compression-wise than Theora and Dirac, so if its claim to being patent-free does stand up, it's a big upgrade with regard to patent-free video formats.

VP8 is not ready for prime-time; the spec is a pile of copy-pasted C code and the encoder's interface is lacking in features and buggy. They aren't even ready to finalize the bitstream format, let alone switch the world over to VP8.

With the lack of a real spec, the VP8 software basically is the specâ"and with the spec being âoefinalâ, any bugs are now set in stone. Such bugs have already been found and Google has rejected fixes.

Google made the right decision to pick Matroska and Vorbis for its HTML5 video proposal.

Re:Or you can just... (2)

Vanders (110092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325312)

So your strategy for not getting sued by a patent troll is to hide behind the big guys? Then use WebM and hide behind Google. Either way, lying about the patent situation with VP8 is dishonest, and you should probably stop doing that.

As far as "subjective" quality issues go, this article sums it up good:

Yes, we've all seen the highly unbiased article by the x264 developer. It's just as subjective as anyone else's article. It's mostly moaning about the specification, a claim on one hand that VP8 is "too close to H.264 for comfort" while at the same time a claim that VP8 "probably can't be improved that much", and yet more subjective and biased opinion on which the author prefers the most. Surprise, an x264 developer prefers H.264!

Until you define "better" or "best", it's subjective. Until you define what use cases you're applying your measurements too, it's subjective. H.264 is better is some things. VP8 is better in others. Mostly though, VP8 and H.264 are of comparable quality under normal viewing conditions.

Re:Or you can just... (-1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325728)

Google has made it VERY clear that they HAVE NOT and WILL NOT offer indemnity for their users. Just look at how many have had to pay their $699 license fee to MSFT over Android. That is one thing MSFT should be given credit for as they make it clear they WILL indemnify their customers.

And nobody seems to be willing to talk about the big drunken elephant taking a big shit all over the rug which is the simple fact that the free codecs currently suck balls and are likely not only gonna need many millions of dollars worth of work but probably just as much spent on lawyers looking for submarine patents. Compare Dirac, Theora, and WebM to H.264 and Flash on resource usage and it isn't even funny, all the free ones use a hell of a lot more cycles to give you a shittier picture than either flash or H.26x, and that is before hardware acceleration which of course drops the power even lower.

As I said in an earlier post having a truly free web is worth putting up with a shitty free codec as a baseline for HTML V5 simply to keep the web free and open rather than locked behind an H.26x paywall, but that don't turn shit into caviar and honestly if you compare them side by side, both on encoding and decoding frankly old Xvid (which of course is based on the old MSFT MP4 codec) is better than what is being offered for free. The free codecs suck power and give you less picture quality in return and thanks to MPEG-LA having something like 2000+ patents on just about every step in the video chain i highly doubt any of the above free codecs would survive a court challenge,

Re:Or you can just... (2)

Vanders (110092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326250)

Google has made it VERY clear that they HAVE NOT and WILL NOT offer indemnity for their users.

That's fine. The MPEG-LA do not indemnify their licensees either.

That is one thing MSFT should be given credit for as they make it clear they WILL indemnify their customers.

I'm not sure what Microsoft licenses for Android have to do with the MPEG-LA.

the free codecs currently suck balls

Which, as I said in a previous post, is subjective and isn't supported by the reality of the situation. Under normal viewing conditions, WebM and H.264 are comparable.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

Thundersnatch (671481) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330656)

Under normal viewing conditions, WebM and H.264 are comparable.

No, they really aren't. Every rigorous quantitative and rigorous qualitative (large sample sizes and double-blind) study has shown that the best available VP8 encoders require almost 2x the bitrate of the best H.264 high profile encoders.

VP8 is basically useless, as it is very likely encumbered by patents (12 different companies have made claims, and Google will not offer indemnification for a reason). So it isn't free, it is extremely slow, and it requires twice as many bits. I operate a commercial video site, and guess what? Our H.264 licenses cost less than the extra storage and bandwidth WebM would require. And the WebM tool chain sucks.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331802)

Thanks Thundersnatch and you notice I got modded down for pointing out reality? Like I said i'm willing to put up with a sucky baseline simply because the WEB SHOULD BE FREE FOR ALL TO USE and I don't want Apple and MSFT with MPEG-LA locking it behind a paywall, but it don't make the codecs less shitty.

I've tried Dirac,WebM, and Theora and frankly even old Xvid gave me a better picture at a significantly lower file size than any of the above. And as you pointed out its not the license that bites you in the ass, its the bandwidth. while i don't run a video site I DO have to deal with a LOT of customers that have bandwidth limited connections and I have to keep abreast of such things as i have to find the best formats for them to use dropboxes and the like to share little Timmy's first words with the family in Chicago.

And while I still think the price of a free Internet is worth paying, as we can always have a video in the baseline format as the lowest common denominator along with MP4 or H.264 and then let the user decide which format to watch, I have to call a spade and spade and all the free ones seriously suck. To get the same level of quality I got in an 800Mb Xvid or DivX 5 video i had to end up with a file nearly twice the size and honestly? its still not quite as good, with more artifacts and pixelation. And compared to H.264 it wasn't even a contest, it was more like three times the size to equal a good H.264 encode.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

Vanders (110092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38334128)

12 different companies have made claims

Claims are meaningless. Lets see them actually sue. Not a single company making such a claim has ever sued On2, Xiph or Google. They can't have much faith in their own claims.

Google will not offer indemnification for a reason

Yes, because the MPEG-LA also do not offer indemnification. Double standards much?

Every...study has shown that the best available VP8 encoders require almost 2x the bitrate of the best H.264 high profile encoders.

Got links?

Re:Or you can just... (4, Insightful)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326872)

Again the bullshit about x264 developers being "biased".

He also helped write the fastest VP8 decoder available, you know. Why did he do that if he was so biased against it?

Enough of these ridiculous ad hominem attacks. The guy is incredibly competent in the field, and nobody who's attacked him for what he said is anywhere close.

Re:Or you can just... (3, Insightful)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327050)

He's not exactly biased, he just doesn't grasp how weird the patent situation around h.264 is. Apparently a lot of the patents are quite narrow and easy to avoid because narrow patents are easier to defend in court, and the various companies just rely on their control of the standardization process to make sure that the standard is written in such a way that it necessarily infringes their patents. On2 claim to have worked around all the patents.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38332904)

So your strategy for not getting sued by a patent troll is to hide behind the big guys? Then use WebM and hide behind Google. Either way, lying about the patent situation with VP8 is dishonest, and you should probably stop doing that.

Well, WebM has one advantage - it's small and the people using it aren't really that rich. No patent troll will sue now because there's no money to be made.

H.264 doesn't have that advantage, so if there really was a submarine patent someone's sitting on, they're losing a lot of life on that patent by waiting - it's been out for years, and used everywhere, compared to WebM's tiny userbase. Chances are, everyone would be violating your patent.

You start small, like a small company. They won't have the resources to overturn the patent, and it helps give legitimacy to your patent. You then use those judgments to go after bigger guys. And what's bigger than going after the entire video industry?

WebM? It's used by a few small places, and Google's probably arranged matters that YouTube's use would be some tiny payout in the end. However, when one of the big guys, like say Intel or Broadcom or Marvell with lots of money start baking WebM hardware into their chips, life gets more interesting as there's now real big money in there.

So it may be hiding behind big companies, but any patent troll would love to sue for someone so ubiquitous as h.264 - the millions of things that do h.264 and you can extract licensing fees for.

Suing for WebM right now? Silly if you want to make money. Wait for it to become highly popular and entrenched so switching away is difficult (like h.264 is right now), which guarantees money for a long while yet. WebM doesn't have it so if there was a violation, Google would just work around it because it's easy to make these changes when few use it than when practically the entire world is using it.

Re:Or you can just... (3, Informative)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325282)

In fact, there have been submarine patent attacks on h.264 in the past, whereas WebM hasn't encountered any yet.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329774)

"There are no guarantees or indemnities against any non-MPEG-LA member from suing you and everyone else for using H.264."

There is one. If such a company does sue you, then the MPEG-LA is going to come to your aid. Not in your support, but to defend their turf - their patent pool is massively devalued if it is incomplete. That means they'll either throw money at the responsible company until they agree to sell the patent, or come to your aid with the best lawyers in the field and a practically endless amount of money for legal costs.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

stms (1132653) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331938)

"Inferior" is subjective

Not that the rest of your point isn't valid but if you say that Inferior is subjective (even though it's kind of true). You haven't taken the time to compare the codecs. If you want to distribute media over the internet in higher than 480p H.264 is your only real option.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325238)

I think you made a typo:

At least with H.264 I can be certain that my business IS going to be taken to court one day and I lose it all.

Have you been under a rock and not keeping up with the behavior of the MPEG-LA? Denial is not just a river in Egypt. And as to "inferior" what are you talking about? Inferior in what way? I suppose VP8 is inferior in the sense that it won't make the MPPEG-LA executives rich.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326888)

VP8 absolutely and objectively technically inferior to h.264. Anybody with any kind of understanding of the field knows that.

Re:Or you can just... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325240)

Inferior to MPEG-1? ;P

You are an idiot.

Re:Or you can just... (3, Informative)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325348)

At least with H.264 I can be certain that my business isn't going to be taken to court one day and I lose it all.

No you can't. They do *not* protect you from 3rd party patents that and it explicit states in the license agreement that its between you and the 3rd party, not them. MPEG-LA offer *zero* immunity or guarantees. In fact guess how many 3rd parties have come forward with claims on MPEG-LA licensed codecs? Now guess with either Theora or VP8?

It does not matter what you do, you are not safe from patent trolls. Paying one of em does nothing to remove the rest.

Re:Or you can just... (4, Insightful)

andydread (758754) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325492)

And use inferior technology that is a patent minefield? At least with H.264 I can be certain that my business isn't going to be taken to court one day and I lose it all. With H.264 I don't need to worry about such, and I get better technology (and hardware decoders on almost every kind of device on planet that can show video).

You are being sarcastic right? You do know that when you purchase equipment such as cameras and software that include a H.264 license it's for non-commercial uses only right?. Let say you purchase a shiny new Mac and you purchase Final Cut Pro. Note the "pro" in the name. And you decide to produce professional video and re-distribute it. You must get a license from MPEG-LA to do that. Read the fine print in the Final Cut Pro license. [apple.com]

Additional use licenses and fees are required for use of information encoded in compliance with the MPEG-4 Visual Standard other than the personal and non-commercial use of a consumer (i) in connection with information which has been encoded in compliance with the MPEG-4 Visual Standard by a consumer engaged in a personal and non-commercial activity, and/or (ii) in connection with MPEG-4 encoded video under license from a video provider. Additional information including that relating to promotional,internal and commercial uses and licensing may be obtained from MPEG LA, LLC. See http://www.mpegla.com./ [www.mpegla.com]

You mentioned "At least with H.264 I can be certain that my business isn't going to be taken to court one day and I lose it all." So I am assuming you are using MPEG-4 for commercial uses and you have contacted MPEG LA for MPEG-4 licenses for each MPEG-4 work that you use commercially correct?

Re:Or you can just... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326906)

Anybody who works in video distribution knows that distribution may require a different license than just encoding. Encoding software does not and can not include that license.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

Raenex (947668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331190)

Anybody who works in video distribution knows that distribution may require a different license than just encoding. Encoding software does not and can not include that license.

That sounds pretty absurd to me. It's like if somebody patented a drug, and then the maker of the drug was charged twice, once to make, and second to distribute the drug, and then the doctor was charged for prescribing the drug.

You really can't distribute a file just because it is encoded in a certain format? Really?

Re:Or you can just... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331876)

Yes, that is how the licensing works.

This is probably preferable to the alternative, which would be that encode licenses would be astronomical sums. With license fees dependent on distribution, that means that those that can afford to pay a lot pay the largest part of the money involved, and smaller companies get away with small sums.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

aix tom (902140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38333580)

Yeah. It's always a better choice to just pay the guys that come along, look around, and say "Nice business you have there. Wouldn't it be a shame if something happened to it?"

Re:Or you can just... (4, Insightful)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325116)

And what do you do with the sections of your workflow that are not specifically Web-based?

H.264 is a video industry standard, which includes myriad delivery media. VP8 is a web video technology.

            -dZ.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

ogrisel (1168023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325268)

Because the media industry primary goal is to produce videos that are not to be broadcasted on the web? Yeah television is the probably media of the future.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326638)

Because the media industry primary goal is to produce videos that are not to be broadcasted on the web? Yeah television is the probably media of the future.

I have an editor in Syria that's shot some local footage, and wants to incorporate some library material, before feeding it back to base.

Once in base it's reversions for various outlets (childrens news). A few graphics are then added.

The editor is on a 192kbit bgan, and has a 5 minute package to send back, sending uncompressed video around the place just won't work.

How do I get this footage back in
1) A high quality
2) A decent time

But I need to be able to change that footage later, which tends to mean bringing it back to an iframe format.

Eventually the media goes onto the web for a few thousand people to watch, and is compressed to h264 at 1mbit and looks crap. It's also broadcast to 200m people having gone through various devices as SDI (or HD-SDI) and looks a bit better.

I control both the sending end in Syria, and the receiving end in base. I can use H264, VP8, mjpeg, DV25, DNXhd or whatever I want. Unfortunately h264 is the best solution.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

Vanders (110092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326858)

Sure, your scenario is bang on and I don't think anyone would seriously suggest that H.264 isn't a great solution for that work. However, this bit:

Eventually the media goes onto the web for a few thousand people to watch

That bit right there is where VP8 can just as easily replace H.264, and where Google are not surprisingly positioning it with WebM. As you're transcoding the original high quality source anyway, you lose nothing transcoding it to VP8 instead of back to H.264.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327286)

MPEG is not MPEG-LA.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329814)

I'm sure they picked a confusingly similar name deliberatly.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328158)

Or you can just tell the MPEG-LA group to screw themselves and use VP8.

There are about thirty H.264 licensors --- most of them global giants in manufacturing like Mitshubishi.

These are the companies that dominate every link in the hardware chain from the studo camera to your tv set. Your Internet enabled HDTV doesn't need a browser, it only needs the client app.

Open the Metro UI in Windows 8 and the H.264 or HEVC Netflix app will be there. "Web Standards" no longer matter when you can distribute higher quality or more secure video outside the web.

There are close on to 1100 H,264 licensees.

That is for all practical purposes a global Fortune 1000 in content production and video distribution. Inclusive of commercial, industrial, medical, and military applications.

The web is ony one small slice of a very big pie.

Re:Or you can just... (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38332734)

Or you can just tell the MPEG-LA group to screw themselves and use VP8.

That's... productive. Obviously we don't want the MPEG involved, they're just a standards body that's brought us MPEG-1 (VCDs), MP3s, MPEG-2 (DVDs, HDTV, ALL broadcast back-ends, etc), DivX, and H.264. Clearly they are useless...

Honestly, if they were to basically adopt VP8, maybe enhance it a bit, and standardize it, it might actually make some headway, instead of being the in-thing among the 1% of people who follow /. regularly. If nothing else, their stamp of approval would be likely to get manufacturers out there ramping up production of VP8 encoder and decoder chips, and would grab the interest of lots of big companies out there. Maybe Google would stop dragging their feet on converting Youtube, and forcing Android device manufacturers to have WebM as an option everywhere, on equal footing with H.264.

Instead, here we are. Are the libavcodec guys going crazy optimizing their VP8 encoder? Is anyone really putting any effort into it, or is it just an also-ran after H.264 already had the market locked-in?

Just use WebM for the web (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325060)

WebM is already royalty-free, and it out-performs h.264. Where is the problem?

Support: here is a performance comparison of the latest iteration of the WebM encoder hardware, showing also previous versions and a h.264 encoder for comparison.

http://blog.webmproject.org/2011/11/time-of-dragonflies.html

If WebM is better anyway, already royalty-free, and WebM/HTML5 is supported by more browsers than h264/HTML5, then why on earth shouldn't people just go ahead and use WebM.

Where is the issue?

Re:Just use WebM for the web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325076)

Because there is much, much more to video than the web.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (2)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325108)

Hardware with baked in VP8

Re:Just use WebM for the web (2, Insightful)

InsightIn140Bytes (2522112) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325144)

It maybe supported by more browsers, but in terms of market share of said browsers, H.264 leads. The native browsers of two largest OS, IE and Safari, only support H.264. That's what counts. And frankly, H.264 support is included in both OS and is technically better. It would be stupid to choose lesser solution only because authoring tools don't need to pay small licensing costs. I'm glad they haven't done that decision either. at least once better technology wons over idealistic views.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325568)

It maybe supported by more browsers, but in terms of market share of said browsers, H.264 leads. The native browsers of two largest OS, IE and Safari, only support H.264. That's what counts.

Actually, that sounds like wishing for another IE6, that is, a product using its own standards and bringing innovation to a halt, once competition has pretty much been squashed.
Whatever camp you root for, you WILL benefit from making sure there are small guys out there who are able keep the big ones on their toes.
So when the "native browsers of two largest OS", from companies with a history of doing everything but playing fair and square, settle for something with implied "private club"-like restrictions, that should raise red flags all over the place.

And frankly, H.264 support is included in both OS and is technically better. It would be stupid to choose lesser solution only because authoring tools don't need to pay small licensing costs. I'm glad they haven't done that decision either. at least once better technology wons over idealistic views.

Well, I find other browsers and OS technically better that the larger ones.
Betamax was also technically better than VHS... That characteristic alone proved of little importance in the market.
And in the case of video, unless you show the exact same clip encoded with 2 different compression standards side-by-side, does anyone think a viewer would notice any significant difference? I mean, it's digital information anyway, you are already approximating information using finite elements.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326286)

It would be stupid to choose lesser solution only because authoring tools don't need to pay small licensing costs.

Hey! I'm an indie dev with Zero initial capital! I want my players to be able to capture video feeds of in-game play and upload them to video sites. I also want to open source the game at some point... Guess which codec standard PREVENTS THIS? Not WebM. I'm sorry, H.264 isn't even an option for me. It was trivial for me to include a WebM encoder in my code, took one afternoon. It's also natively supported by the most used video upload site... Youtube. I can't even begin the process of legally doing the same with H.264.

To me the lesser solution is H.264... the VERY MUCH LESSER solution is a stripped down version of it -- Which is what TFA is talking about having made license free.

Also: HTML5 has a video tag. That's great! Northing's stopping us from having two or more video codecs installed so you can deliver H.666 or whatever, but the fact is: If you want ANYONE to be able to compile a browser or any other program that contains a video encoder / decoder, H.264 is not an option. Make VP8 the standard and your Windows & Mac OSs can still come with H.264 codec plugins. That's fine, but think about people that want to use Free Software... we can't use H.264 for that; Each user can't pay license fees just to compile their own software & FOSS projects can't pay license fees for every single user who compiles the project either (technically each compilation is a different product).

Also: As for patent worries? HAHAHA! You have to be shitting me right? I mean... considering my codebase is over 100,000 SLOC, and the USPTO is FULL of bogus trivial & over-broad software patents, an optional component such as a Video Codec is the LEAST of my worries. At least with WebM, if a video myself or a user produced gets popular Google won't come knocking asking for a payout... like they currently WILL with H.264.

I'm all for competition in video standards, but the fact is: H.264 should NOT be a web standard. They're taking about making a CRAPPY version of it "license free" -- Who give a damn when THE FULL VERSION of VP8 is available now, and as has been said: Either codec has just as many submarine patent worries as ANY TRIVIAL SOFTWARE does.

The science of fanboism says you'll stick to your initial choice fervently and illogically no matter how much we banter back and forth, but I'm taking facts here man: Crippled H.264 vs Full VP8 as a web standard... It's no contest you fool.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329842)

You are right, IE and Safari both support h264 but not WebM. I wonder why that would be?

Oh, yes. Microsoft and Apple are both MPEG-LA members, and stand to profit substantially from the success of h264. Whereas WebM is the product of one of their rivals.

I can't see either of those browsers getting WebM support any time soon - and those browers which can support WebM are excluded from h264 by patent and licencing concerns. We're back in the bad old days of Netscape vs IE, where web designers had to write seperate pages for the two semi-compatible browsers and return one based on user-agent.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331050)

The native browsers of two largest OS, IE and Safari, only support H.264.

Two important things of note here.

First, on Windows, only IE9 supports HTML5 video at all. Past versions of IE are still more popular than IE9, largely because it's not bundled with any OS out of the box. It'll take some time to change.

Second, IE does support WebM, just not out of the box. It requires a separate download [google.com] of the codec. I don't know for sure, but I think that Safari also supports installable codecs for HTML5 video on OS X. It definitely does not support them on iOS.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (4, Informative)

John Betonschaar (178617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325146)

[quote]Support: here is a performance comparison of the latest iteration of the WebM encoder hardware, showing also previous versions and a h.264 encoder for comparison.

http://blog.webmproject.org/2011/11/time-of-dragonflies.html%5B/quote%5D [webmproject.org]

I hope you realize that the comparison you linked to compares ENCODER quality between two decoders (H264 and WebM) made by the same company? It says nothing about the abilities of WebM as a codec.

Try this one instead:
http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/archives/377 [multimedia.cx]

Re:Just use WebM for the web (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325290)

Good luck running x264 on your mobile phone, which is the platform both of those hardware encoders are targetting.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (1)

Elbart (1233584) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326162)

Why would you run an ENcoder on a mobile phone?

Re:Just use WebM for the web (2)

Vanders (110092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326896)

What do you think happens when you point the camera on your phone at something and hit the record button? Those terrible videos people upload to YouTube don't encode themselves.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38333098)

What do you think happens when you point the camera on your phone at something

The hardware in your phone encodes it saving your battery for more useful things.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (2)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327082)

Because you want to record a video? Pretty much all mobile phones have hardware allowing them to encode video in real time these days; some of the newer smartphones even support recording in 1080p.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (1)

TwinkieStix (571736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327322)

When I am using the rear facing camera to capture videos of my family or the front facing camera for video conferencing.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (1)

NearO (591410) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328658)

x264 has a variety of settings that allow you to tweak the quality/speed ratio. It also has (and is getting more) ARM assembly optimizations, which should be useful for use on a number of phones. It's a really well optimized piece of software over a number of platforms.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329870)

Ignoring your x/h confusion, h264 both encoding and decoding works very well on mobile devices. The key is hardware acceleration. It takes great amounts of processor time on a plain old general-purpose processor to handle video (My old C2D struggled on 1080p h264), but if you have purpose-built silicon to handle the hard parts like motion estimation/compensation than it becomes quite practical even for mobiles. The downside is that you can't add new codecs using a simple software plugin.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330344)

Good luck running x264 on your mobile phone, which is the platform both of those hardware encoders are targetting.

This is exactly what I am doing just fine at 720p on my phone, what exactly is the problem?

Re:Just use WebM for the web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330496)

> Try this one instead:
> http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/archives/377 [multimedia.cx] ... full disclosure: authored by a competitor!

Re:Just use WebM for the web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38326920)

Video standards are not about browsers only. Europe's ongoing DVB-T2 and DVB-S2 roll-outs include H.264 (as MPEG-4 Part 10 AVC) countries and will last at least for a decade. Not to mention Blu-Ray, if they ever take off.

H.264 became a de-facto standard for compressed content contribution and re-multiplexing is always better than trans-coding. And don't forget that H.264 is some years older than WebM (not saying VP8, who cared about VP8 without Google?). Meanwhile there is some impressive ongoing development about H.264 encoder hinting (remote terminals), GPU parallelization (increasing concurrencies) and real-time synchronization (see DVB-IPTV FCC). Copyright holders are diving into money all day long, some reinvest. Most efforts could be possibly ported to VP8 (not implying any similarity...), for a real switch benefits have to pay off.

So the question is: Is VP8 so much better that switching doesn't make you an industrial outsider, eating your saved cents per unit?

I take the article as "Efforts of the MPEG group to get rid of all this MPEG-LA and further claim mess". About time I'd say.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (2)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326926)

WebM is not in any way better than h.264, and your link does not support this claim.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328108)

Yes it is, go look at videos on youtube. You won't be able to tell the difference.
On the other hand, blu-ray rips, commercial blu-ray and broadcast tv all come with some version of H264 (not all versions are equivalent though). The different H264 profiles can have dramatic influence on the quality of the final output. The H264 videos you can watch on the iphone are qualitatively as far away from blu-ray quality as VP8 is.

There are 16 H264 profiles en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.264/MPEG-4_AVC, all varying drastically in terms of output quality. And don't fool yourself for a second that the videos on iphone are encoded to same quality (with the same level) as that of commercial blu-rays.

Re:Just use WebM for the web (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328568)

Youtube uses an ancient and broken encoder. Comparing it to anything is meaningless.

Why use mpeg? (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325202)

What is wrong with just using Theora?

Re:Why use mpeg? (1)

bk2204 (310841) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326732)

Theora isn't as great a video codec as VP8 or H.264.

Re:Why use mpeg? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328940)

It has a completely different target... as does MPEG-1 and MPEG-2. Theora goes after the same target as MPEG-2 IIRC.

Re:Why use mpeg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38333506)

Theora is in the same class than Xvid (MPEG-4). Slightly worse, but pretty comparable and good enough for many purposes.

Anyway, this free MPEG codec shows that someone is afraid of Theora and WebM: if they don't release a free version of their codec, they will lose their market control. Otherwise they wouldn't think about it.

Re:Why use mpeg? (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38326958)

It is not known to be patent-free, unlike MPEG-1. MPEG-1 is, due to its age, patent-free by definition.

Re:Why use mpeg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327044)

mpeg 1 is not quite there yet. But it is close. It is why you see the group suddenly touting it as use for royalty free. They are risking nothing and can say they are setting it free at the same time... It is marketing speak....

Why use Theora? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327266)

What is wrong with just keeping up to date? In comparison to VP8 (and H.264), Theora needs double the bandwidth per quality. Theora's development is stalled because everybody switched to the superior codec. Both are free. All browsers that support OGG/Theora also support WebM. The Android browser supports WebM but not OGG.

Re:Why use mpeg? (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38332656)

What is wrong with just using Theora?

Absolutely everything...

Theora really can't even compete with MPEG-1 on either video quality at a given bitrate, or performance. It was very specifically designeed for extremely low quality, extremely low resolution, extremely low bitrate streaming video, over a decade ago...

Theora is the perfect example of how NOT to run a project. They dicked around with alpha and beta versions of Theora for a decade, and in all the time we've got basically nothing to show for it. If they had their asses in gear, we could have easily had Theora as the video codec behind HDTV in the US... It could have been the first and only video codec for open source operating systems back when it was released, in the dark days of XAnim and then avifile, before libavcodec. Instead, VP3 was Windows/Mac only, and it took an enternity to get it stable. If they had just stuck with the VP3 bitstream they would have had a good sized installed base, been an obvious upgrade path for everyone that had already licensed and used VP3, and would have been THE codec to use on Linux/BSD and other platforms, and could even have been the big internet video codec at the turn of the millenia, instead of DivX.

But, of course, none of that happened. These days, it's ancient and useless. You might as well say "Why buy a new car, why not just use that Model-T over there?" To illustrate just how badly fucked up the situation is, consider a couple examples. I already mentioned that VP3 was up for consideration as the HDTV codec, and LOST. Winamp's FLV streaming video format they were pushing started off with support for VP3, NOT Theora... they'd rather use a decade old DLL. And while Theora was forking the VP3 format, presumably making quality improvements and such, On2, the company that gave it to them (when VP4 came out) went on to develop VP5, VP6, VP7, and finally VP8 in that time. Compare the progress made... VP8 very seriously competes with H.264, Theora does not.

Now that VP8 is open source in the form of WebM, this is obviously the way to go if you control the ecosystem. Theora is not the way to go, and the complete failure that is Theora is probably why Google chose to maintain control of WebM, rather than depend on another half-assed open source project to develop it further, and push companies to adopt it.

Re:Why use mpeg? (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38335592)

Interesting reply. What do you think of x264?

MPEG or MPEG-LA? (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325272)

"MPEG has received" or MPEG-LA?

I thought I read here on Slashdot that -LA is different from just plain old MPEG.

So who is actually doing the receiving? Good guys/bad guys?

Re:MPEG or MPEG-LA? (3, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325914)

MPEG has been around for a long time, they're the ones responsible for creating the actual IP. MPEG-LA is the patent trolls that have managed to cobble together a number of questionable patents to make people pay for h.264.

Re:MPEG or MPEG-LA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328118)

That's not exactly how it works. MPEG does not create IP, MPEG set up meetings and defines standards. The technology is created by individual companies who make proposals and improvements to others' proposals. The members of MPEG then reach a consensus on what technology to standardise. To have your technology included in a standard you must agree to either license your patents under a non-discriminatory license, or give the technology away for free. It has happened that a company did not declare their IP in a standard, and later sued. In IP holder lost this case because of the IP agreement that they signed with ISO (the parent organization of MPEG).

MPEG-LA was set up so that licensees can go to a single place to license the many different patents in the standard. MPEG-LA is set up by the IP holders. I wouldn't call it a patent troll. Without MPEG-LA it would be very difficult indeed to license the 200 or so US patents in H.264. Standardization is a messy political business, but I think that we are all better off having international standards than de-facto standards pushed by single companies.

Yes, this is needed (4, Informative)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325332)

From the point of view of technological progress, proposing the use of 20-year old technology is shameful, but it really is the only solution. (until software patents get abolished)

This was also suggested by Nokia during the html5 standard discussion of the video tag:

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Use_software_and_functionality_from_20_years_ago [swpat.org]

And remember, this problem is caused not by trolls but by the MPEG-LA signatories: Columbia University, Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute of Korea (ETRI), France Télécom, Fujitsu, LG Electronics, Matsushita (Panasonic), Mitsubishi, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia, Philips, Robert Bosch GmbH, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, and Victor Company of Japan (JVC).

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38325586)

Neither of these formats is competitive and neither can be easily extended without running into the morass of patents which surround MPEG-2 and h.264

MPEG-1 "enhanced by" parts of MPEG-2 and JPEG? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38327158)

If we're looking for an antediluvial encoding with enormous overhead, why not MJPEG with PCM audio?

Patented equations (1)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327756)

I know many of the patents in H.264 are on specific equations used for the integer DCT equivalent, Hadamard transform, and so on. My question is, does a patent cover an equation that is not specifically written in the patent but is mathematically equivalent? If not, couldn't some of the patent encumbrances be worked around in this fashion?

They don't get it (2)

GPLHost-Thomas (1330431) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331968)

They still don't get it do they? We don't want a ROYALTY free format, but also a PATENT FREE format.

Re:They don't get it (1)

jrincayc (22260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38335138)

I think there are only two major patent free video formats right now, Motion JPEG and H.261. Theora and VP8 are patented, but the patents are allowed to be used royalty free.

Title was supposed to be... (1)

Zanadou (1043400) | more than 2 years ago | (#38334692)

"Royalty-Free MPEG Video Proposals Proposed."

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