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Interview With BBC Dirac Developer Thomas Davis

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the making-pictures-move dept.

Media 170

arclightfire writes "The subject of the BBC video codec Dirac has been here before, but we've managed to get an interview with Thomas Davies, Senior R&D Engineer at the BBC who devised the Dirac algorithm. Interesting to note that the codec should be with Mplayer soon; "As far as players go, we'll be submitting a patch to Mplayer to allow it to play Dirac pretty soon." And info about the tech developments in Dirac; "I used tried and techniques, like wavelets, which weren't in standards at the time, and tried to develop them. And that's what we'll continue to do as the algorithm develops. So we've tried to build on some pretty well-understood technology, and also tried to do some new things with it. We're patenting the new stuff, quite a bit of which hasn't got into the software yet. The license means that these patents are licensed for free within the Dirac software.""

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FUCK YOU FAGGOT (-1, Troll)

Sexual Asspussy (453406) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304249)

Re:FUCK YOU FAGGOT (1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304373)

Without adventure, civilization is in full decay. -- Alfred North Whitehead

Re:FUCK YOU FAGGOT (1)

Sexual Asspussy (453406) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304410)

We are doing a pretty jood job of decadence even with adventure.

P.S. CLIT power, GNAA=sausage-casers

Re:FUCK YOU FAGGOT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304568)

How is your comment related to the demise of Googel.

Let's face the facts:

- Google has long ago sold out to AOL Time Warner; the next round of IPO will increase their shares and they are likely to achieve a total majority of shares by the end of 2005.

- Gmail fails to meet the standard of users above Novice-level; those who are used to the comfort of a sophisticated email-client, like Microsoft Outlook, connected to a powerful and secure server-side solution, like Microsoft Exchange [microsoft.com]

- Gmail still does not work fully with less sopisticated browsers, such as Mozilla and Firefox. This may be caused by lacking standards-support in these browsers. Fortunately, barely nobody uses these nowadays, so the problem can safely be ignored for the time being. After all, the standard user-agent for web access is the mature and secure Internet Explorer

- Google's investment in Doubleclick.com and other "online marketing" agencies is a dubious move; personally, I can live with text-only advertising as practised by Google so far, but our company ads are exclusively deployed using latest Macromedia Flash technology, because this simply is what our professional customers expect of us

Now... (1, Funny)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304255)

How long before he'll be offered a juicy job at Microsoft or Apple???

Re:Now... (1)

AliasTheRoot (171859) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304485)

why would he? ms and apples operations in the uk are primarily sales operations.

Re:Now... (2, Insightful)

Kumkwat (312490) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304596)



Microsoft Research lives at Cambridge. They would be very interested in innovative compression techinques.

Re:Now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304950)

Ah, the Microsoft way:

1. Purchase others' proven talent.
2. ???
3. PROFIT!!!

Seriously, this is all they ever seem to do to some degree of success. I know that they try to hire aspiring talent, but...

OK, so I take a 1-hour CS freshman seminar. Easily this is my favorite class, because we actually talk about interesting stuff. But anyway. So we've spent the last two weeks doing puzzle-type things. One of the ones he showed us he claimed was once asked during Microsoft interviews:

You are shown a picture of a seemingly perfectly symmetrical bus. There are no overt signs that indicate the direction of motion. How do you determine what way the bus is moving? The answer is that the picture shows the side of the bus without the door, and so the end of the bus with the door indicates the direction of motion. Meh, screw it. Adviseth Google: http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~wwu/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB .cgi?board=riddles_microsoft;action=display;num=10 28571067 [berkeley.edu] .

The point is that this question involves a ludicrous amount of assumption (On what side of the road does the bus drive? Could not the bus be moving in reverse? My favorite from the above forum thread: could the driver be sitting in the back?) and possibly America-centric (which doesn't exactly help when you're trying to sell to international markets), rendering the question useless for anything except personality study, which can be assertained through more efficient means.

Maybe I'm intentionally being contrary, and it probably matters that I didn't hear the riddle first-hand, but I find this specific nugget of reason to be very self-defeating.

But that whole anecdote isn't proof of anything. I just needed to say it. But my original point stands: do Microsoft itself really innovate? or is it just a bunch of mercenaries at work under the Microsoft label?

Re:Now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305894)

Next November it will be too late, sucka!

WOW (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304257)

Thank you Slashdot for making sure I get to sleep early tonight.

For Linux? (1, Troll)

pimpius the impious (785683) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304259)

Will we have the same fiasco with no legal decryption for Linux, then prosecution for not buying a registered decryptor as we did with DVD? Or will we need another 6 lines of Perl?

Re:For Linux? (2, Informative)

lphuberdeau (774176) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304359)

RTFA

They plan on releasing open source and submit a patch for mplayer themselves.

Paul Dirac? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304277)

"There is no God and Dirac is his Prophet!"

Great codec, awful name (3, Funny)

YetAnotherName (168064) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304286)

Especially from a British developer ... I mean, he could've gone with something like "The Cybermen Codec" or "The Sontaran Codec" or at least "The Dalek Codec" ...

Re:Great codec, awful name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304303)

If you've been following the Doctor Who development hell, you will know that using the D name means signing 50% over to the bogspawn issue of Terry Nation. HTH.

Re:Great codec, awful name (2, Funny)

savagedome (742194) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304319)

I would definitely take a suggestion for name from somebody whose id is "YetAnotherName". Yup.

Re:Great codec, awful name (1)

squarefish (561836) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304623)

'the codec of silly walks'

Re:Great codec, awful name (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304642)

Or the Video Player's Guide to the Codec.

Re:Great codec, awful name (2, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304814)

"Always Look on the Bright Side of the Screen"

Re:Great codec, awful name (5, Interesting)

Fallen Andy (795676) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305339)

Oh boy. You *are* ignorant. "Dirac" is the physicist
who came up with the idea of anti-matter. Not only that but he did his Bsc at Bristol University. Yeah
Bristol south-west of england.

He didn't like it though. Don't know why, worked for
me (splutters). I escaped that fine institution as
a chemist (but I have spent far too many years playing with computers...).

Bristol is also where the BBC has some of it's more
interesting people, like the wildlife unit.

Oh and Bristol Zoo. Which thanks to Alan Cox (cheers mate) used to have a penguin called Linus.
If I wasn't stuck here in Rainy Athens (hey? I'm
winding up the UK people ok..) I'd go kiss it right now.

Re:Great codec, awful name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305938)

Given the trouble the BBC has just had with Terry Nation's estate over the appearance of the Daleks in the next series of Dr. Who I think they were wise to leave this one well alone!

Vlade Dirac (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304313)

is very overrated. I cant believe this kinda stuff gets on Slashdot.

Dirac's not the only new codec in the running (5, Informative)

Frac (27516) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304314)

h.264 (now formally known as AVC, the video-equivalent of AAC) is maturing. Well, at least Ahead's Nero Digital [nerodigital.com] implementation of h.264 is maturing. The marketing spin has it called Nero Digital, but it's fully h.264 compliant. And the results are impressive [doom9.org] - beta testing shows comparable quality of XviD at half the bitrate.

Re:Dirac's not the only new codec in the running (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304392)

Indeed, realtime compression using H.264 at HD resolutions was demostrated at IBC recently, it's a mofo in terms of hardware but I can rememeber when MPEG2 encoders needed to be chilled, "you can comprese a 270Mbps raw stream down to just 8-9Mbps" they cried in amazement, lol, 8Mbps, if only.

Patented to hell and back (NS) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10306205)

Nuff Said.

Why bother? (5, Informative)

JPyObjC Dude (772176) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304320)

H.264/AVC is open and extremely powerful. Why bother with another protocol?

From Apple Tiger h.264 page [apple.com] :
Not only is H.264/AVC very efficient, providing extremely high quality in smaller files, but H.264/AVC is also scalable, producing video for everything from 3G for mobile phones to High Definition (HD). H.264/AVC can create great-looking 3G mobile content at 50-160 Kbps, excellent Standard Definition (SD) video at 800-1500 Kbps, beautiful HD video (1280x720, 24p) at 5-7 Mbps and full HD video (1920x1080, 24p) at 7-9 Mbps. So at today's SD DVD data rates, H.264/AVC can deliver full HD. In fact, H.264/AVC was ratified by the DVD Forum for inclusion in the next-generation HD DVD format.

Re:Why bother? (3, Insightful)

damiam (409504) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304358)

Open? So, can you use it commercially without a license fee?

You use the word open... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305408)

You use the word open, but you don't know what it means.

I think what you're looking for is free-as-in-what-RMS-thinks.

Dirac is free, H.264 is not (0, Troll)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304364)

'nuff said.

Re:Dirac is free, H.264 is not (2, Interesting)

JPyObjC Dude (772176) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304561)


Licence snippet:


In the case of the (a) encoder and decoder manufacturer sublicenses:
For (a) (1) branded encoder and decoder products sold both to end users and on an OEM
basis for incorporation into personal computers but not part of an operating system...




I read that this applies to sold software not free software. Licence free for free (OS) software?

Re:Dirac is free, H.264 is not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305120)

Either you have an explicit patent license or you have no license.

openness is hardly a concern to mplayer developers (3, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304639)

Dirac is free, H.264 is not

Bullshit. Every MPEG standard implementor is -supposed- to pay royalties. But I don't see any projects which support mpeg video and audio- doing so. I also don't see anyone chasing them down for the royalties. The general consensus is that if you don't make money off it, nobody will chase you down for the royalties; they're happy with the revenue stream from commercial software.

Further, if you bothered to read up [wikipedia.org] , you'd note that there's a reference implementation with downloadable source code, and documents on the (ahem) ISO standard.

Also, listening to someone complain about proprietary technology and "openness" being a hinderance is pretty funny in the context of Mplayer [debian.org] , considering that the developers distribute codec packs consisting of commercial software (specifically DLL files) they're -not allowed to distribute- from Microsoft, Real, Apple, Intel, and many others. Dozens of proprietary video and audio formats are included.

Re:openness is hardly a concern to mplayer develop (2, Insightful)

RiffRafff (234408) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304706)

Also, listening to someone complain about proprietary technology and "openness" being a hinderance is pretty funny in the context of Mplayer, considering that the developers distribute codec packs consisting of commercial software...

Which is legal in Hungary. Welcome to the internet, son.

I can't help but wonder just how YOU came to know about them, you being such an upstanding citizen and all. Hmmm?

"legal in hungary" does not change anything (1, Flamebait)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304804)

Which is legal in Hungary. Welcome to the internet, son.

The original poster said "H.264 is not free", implying that's why it shouldn't be implemented in mplayer.

Further- just because it's legal in Hungary doesn't mean it is legal anywhere else- which is why mplayer isn't distributed with, for example, Debian. I don't believe it is, in fact, distributed with any major Linux distribution.

I can't help but wonder just how YOU came to know about them

I judge them by how they speak and represent themselves. They were total assholes about distros distributing binaries of mplayer, as well as compiler problems- they're such bad coders, their shit broke faster than a piece of china near a bull, and they would happily point a finger anybody they could. "Oh, the software crashes because Redhat didn't build it properly". Or, "oh, you didn't compile it with this one specific version of GCC." Except most of the rest of the world seemed to do pretty OK whenever a new version of GCC rolled around; everyone else's problems seemed to be "my stuff doesn't compile because gcc no longer likes that technically-invalid-but-previously-forgiven practice". Mplayer's problems always seemed to be "mplayer crashes when built with anything but this version of GCC".

I also remember some very nasty "news items" posted on the mplayer website amounting to a flame war over licensing issues.

Re:"legal in hungary" does not change anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305127)

they're such bad coders, their shit broke faster than a piece of china near a bull, and they would happily point a finger anybody they could.

Well, it compiled for me just fine.

And yeah, some of it is kindof jinky, thats what you get when you have something which supports just about every media format.

Is there any "commercial" software which can do the same?

All i know is, I have a dualboot system, and lately my multimedia support is far better in linux than windows thanks to mplayer.

Re:"legal in hungary" does not change anything (2, Informative)

ncc74656 (45571) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305693)

Further- just because [MPlayer]'s legal in Hungary doesn't mean it is legal anywhere else- which is why mplayer isn't distributed with, for example, Debian. I don't believe it is, in fact, distributed with any major Linux distribution.

There is a Gentoo ebuild for it. The MPlayer files (source and DLL packs) aren't hosted by any of the Gentoo mirrors, but are retrieved from the MPlayer website. The same applies to most software for which ebuilds exist, though. Source for GNU programs gets pulled from GNU mirrors, source for SourceForge-hosted projects gets pulled from SourceForge mirrors, etc. Whether you could call this state of affairs "distribution" is open to debate, I suppose. While what Gentoo provides directly is in a sense little more than instructions and a patchfile, installing MPlayer is no more difficult than installing Emacs or KDE.

(It's worth mentioning that system-specific optimizations (-march=athlon-xp, or whatever) are disabled in the MPlayer ebuild, which goes against one of the main reasons people use Gentoo. With that said, it's behaved reasonably well IME.)

Re:openness is hardly a concern to mplayer develop (3, Insightful)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304773)

Yeah, it's all fine for now. But building free software on a proprietary base will bite you in the ass in the long run (which is why we have the Debian project, but that's a topic for another time). Eventually someone will make a program that the MPEG people don't like (such as an easy converter to Dirac), and they will get sued into next week. Or, if the open-source codecs are sucessful and become the de-facto standard for multimedia, THEN they'll start being pricks about the royalties. The MPEG consortium can come in at any time they like and destroy any open-source project using their standards, or leech off their hard work by charging everybody royalties. I wouldn't work on a project that had that hanging over its head, even if the MPEG people have been okay so far.

Re:openness is hardly a concern to mplayer develop (2, Insightful)

Srin Tuar (147269) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304796)

This is a very big problem: major distros cannot include mplayer because of potential patent suits.

Just because noone has filed suit yet means nothing.

If you want desktop linux to have a chance there have to be popular patent-free multimedia formats that it can use.

There really is no point in promulgating any more mental-prison ware than strictly necessary. When new codecs are being developed, it only makes sense to throw your support behind the free ones when you have a choice.

(iow, Dirac + ogg in an mkv container could save your soul ;P )

Re:openness is hardly a concern to mplayer develop (0)

blibbler (15793) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305909)

Dirac + ogg in an mkv container could save your soul I assume you mean Dirac + Vorbis in Matroska... Ogg is a container format like matroska... (what you said was akin to DivX + AVI in ASF :-p ) On a related topic, Matroska is an unfortunate format to use. It is very inefficient, both in CPU time, and in overhead. My computer can play a 640x480 divx in an avi, but can't play a 512x384 divx in matroska. Additionally, matroska has a higher file overhead than asf or quicktime. Ogg is a good, basic format. It could be seen as a sturdy replacement for AVI. Matroska doesn't do anything beyond even the Quicktime format... and quicktime is vastly more efficient. Anyway, moving on from that rant. I agree strongly with your other points. If you have a choice between two, largely equivalent codecs, one is unencumbered by laws and one is, why would you choose to use the one that is. Sure you might not get sued straight away, or even for a year or two, but why bother with that risk at all? I am not particularly bothered with pirating certain commercial software, but if there is a free program that does everything I need, I will use that over a pirated of a commercial program. Why take the risk when there is another option? Blibbler

Re:openness is hardly a concern to mplayer develop (4, Informative)

blibbler (15793) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305921)

Sorry for the double post, but it needs to be formatted properly

Dirac + ogg in an mkv container could save your soul

I assume you mean Dirac + Vorbis in Matroska... Ogg is a container format like matroska... (what you said was akin to DivX + AVI in ASF :-p )
On a related topic, Matroska is an unfortunate format to use. It is very inefficient, both in CPU time, and in overhead. My computer can play a 640x480 divx in an avi, but can't play a 512x384 divx in matroska. Additionally, matroska has a higher file overhead than asf or quicktime.
Ogg is a good, basic format. It could be seen as a sturdy replacement for AVI. Matroska doesn't do anything beyond even the Quicktime format... and quicktime is vastly more efficient.

Anyway, moving on from that rant. I agree strongly with your other points. If you have a choice between two, largely equivalent codecs, one is unencumbered by laws and one is, why would you choose to use the one that is. Sure you might not get sued straight away, or even for a year or two, but why bother with that risk at all?
I am not particularly bothered with pirating certain commercial software, but if there is a free program that does everything I need, I will use that over a pirated of a commercial program. Why take the risk when there is another option?

Warez codecs are holding back free multimedia (2, Insightful)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305097)

You're completely right; such a lax attitude towards copyrights is a big barrier to the adoption of free (as in legally free) multimedia formats and software. Free software developers who don't respect Microsoft, Real, Apple, and Intel's copyrights shouldn't expect much in return [google.com] .

Given the Dirac developers' attitudes, I would expect them to be more likely to contribute to legal multimedia frameworks like GStreamer or Helix. Maybe the point of Dirac/Mplayer integration is popularity at any cost, in which case the cost will be a semi-underground existence.

A reference implementation and ISO standard doesn't do me (or Fedora or Ubuntu etc.) much good; it's still patent-encumbered and thus not free.

Re:openness is hardly a concern to mplayer develop (3, Insightful)

Spoing (152917) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305336)

  1. Bullshit. Every MPEG standard implementor is -supposed- to pay royalties. But I don't see any projects which support mpeg video and audio- doing so. I also don't see anyone chasing them down for the royalties. The general consensus is that if you don't make money off it, nobody will chase you down for the royalties; they're happy with the revenue stream from commercial software.

Good point. One for you: Do you think the BBC will have to pay royalties if they use H.264?

Re:Why bother? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304379)

Well, lets wait and see which is better, shall we?

p.s. If I were you I'd have left off that last sentance...
"H.264/AVC was ratified by the DVD Forum for inclusion in the next-generation HD DVD format"

Because we all know how great MPEG2 is. And how much cheaper our HD-DVDs and players will be with mandatory WMV support. Those guys are clueless.

oops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304389)

lets -> let's
sentance -> sentence

It's late.

H.264 is pricey even more than MS's WMV 9 (5, Informative)

riversky (732353) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304435)

The license costs on H.264 are the most expensive on the planet (MPEG LA controls it with a hell of a lot of patented stuff from various companies). This is why it isn't being adopted rapidly. Even MS undercut it with cheaper licensing on Windows Media. This will kill it, a very nice technology. I am all for open source codecs. Perhaps BBC is on to something.

Yawn. Another vendor lock-in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305929)

Come on. I though we were trying to get AWAY from such.

Also, I guess it's fine paying HUGE royalties for your beloved Apple codecs if you are a Mac fanboy. For me, that thing will never be used.

No jokes about Wendys? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304344)

What the hell, where are all the slashot humorists?

Re:No jokes about Wendys? (3, Funny)

Resident Maniac (809612) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304529)

No jokes about Wendys? What the hell, where are all the slashot humorists?
In Soviet Russia, Wendy's jokes about Slashdot humorists! =P

first ass (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304357)

that's right, you saw it here first

Is it in M*ENCODER* (4, Interesting)

strredwolf (532) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304380)

Having decode support in Mplayer is good. but it's not going to fly well if there's no support for encoding! How are you going to use it to it's full potential in Unix if you can't back up your DVD's with it?

It goes double for the Ogg Theora format.

no. Here's why. (2, Informative)

don.g (6394) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304957)

mencoder at present (AFAIK) only outputs AVI, a format which doesn't cope well with VBR.

Until it supports the ogg bitstream format, you're not likely to see Vorbis audio support, let alone Theora.

Re:Is it in M*ENCODER* (1)

blowdart (31458) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305529)

And whilst a new codec with Unix support is nice, and encoding is nice, how may average listeners are going to download mplayer?

Unless they produce a DirectShow filter for Windows (like ffdshow [sourceforge.net] does for DivX), they're excluding that rather large desktop market of listeners. Their research page says they have volunteers to code the filter, but until that arrives the codec is playing to a very small audidence. (A bit like the BBC digital channels <g>)

Re:Is it in M*ENCODER* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10306241)

Well saying as the codec isn't due to go into Beta until this time next year, there is no content available for it and they havn't yet published any bitstream specs, it doesn't matter if they have a DirectShow filter or not. A filter is on their roadmap; either one of the volounteers will write it or they will do it themselves once they have the codec stable.

Interesting... (1)

Code Dark (709837) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304427)

That's pretty cool; I didn't even know that BBC had programmers (other than their own TV and web coders, obviously). That's pretty cool. I suspect that the BBC will be releasing much of it's news on this codec... glad that my trusty old MPlayer will have it :)

Re:Interesting... (2, Interesting)

mikael (484) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304684)

It's obvious from the article that they have their own research programmers (they have their own R&D department. I used to see adverts for inhouse graphics programmers).

They also sponsor quite a bit of university research projects. Probably the most important just now is virtual studios and automatic classification of video clips (automatically convert a video stream into a text description).

Re:Interesting... (1)

Code Dark (709837) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304701)

I didn't even know that BBC had programmers

I meant before I read the article. Obviously, I am now enlightened ;)

US media won't use it (1, Funny)

calculadoru (760076) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304448)

...because it rhymes with Chirac.

Re:US media won't use it (1)

sploo22 (748838) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304498)

It's DIE-rac, not dih-RAC.

Re:US media won't use it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304589)

Rhymes with Iraq, then.

Re:US media won't use it (2, Funny)

calculadoru (760076) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304602)

It's DIE-rac, not dih-RAC

Sorry about that one then.
I still don't think the US media will use it, because it rhymes with (the bizarre way they choose to pronounce) Iraq .

Re:US media won't use it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304707)

Actually, it does rhyme with Chirac, seeing as both names are French (Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac was born in England though, having a Swiss father). This shouldn't be a problem though, as apparently non-French-speakers will never figure it out.

Why not use OGG Theora? (4, Interesting)

solidhen (642119) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304525)

From what I've read it looks like the goal with Dirac is to get a royalty free codec. If this is correct then why did you decide against using/contributing to the open source/open standard ogg theora codec?

Re:Why not use OGG Theora? (2, Insightful)

42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304915)

If the quality of Dirac is higher it should of course be preferred. That said, I have not seen any video encoded with either, except for that Java Theora implementation last week (?), so I don't know which one is better.

Re:Why not use OGG Theora? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305297)

Theora isn't as good as XviD, which is MPEG4. This aims to beat both.

Re:Why not use OGG Theora? (1)

nileshbansal (665019) | more than 10 years ago | (#10306193)

Theora isn't as good as XviD
How can you say that? theora can produce a smaller file with same quality.

They could at least write it with ResEdit! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304547)

Like Adam recently did with his latest incarnation of Adam's Platform....
... or so he told his board yesterday!

MWC [asx.com.au]

I think the Dirac project is fantastic and is a good example of public money being used for the public good.

Re:They could at least write it with ResEdit! (0)

Stormie (708) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304716)

MOD PARENT UP!

I don't know if Adam's Platform has been discussed on Slashdot before, but it was one of those classic "we can compress video 100x tighter than MPEG and decompress it realtime on a 286!" type claims. Good to see them getting spanked, as described in that report to the Australian Stock Exchange [asx.com.au] ..

Juicy highlights:

  • after uninstalling the APT codec and rebooting, the APT video files mysteriously still played!
  • The team that evaluated the codec found that it had "what looked like the exact characteristics of VP3 [vp3.com] "
  • Adam Clark claimed he wrote the codec using ResEdit [macupdate.com] ! LOL!

Re:They could at least write it with ResEdit! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305517)

[Posting anonymously because I know some of the people involved]

Thank you to parent and grandparent. I've been following the Adams Platform/MWC saga for some time, but hadn't seen the most recent ASX document...

Adam Clark and his father are total fruit loops. Quite a few big names (who should have had better-tuned bullshit detectors given their positions) got suckered by them but the smarter ones got out earlier when Adam refused to let even his company's own board independently review the technology.

Frankly from what I hear about Adam's behaviour, they should have been asking pretty hard questions about his mental stability straight away...

Now the Fraud Squad are investigating I'm really keen to see how he pulled off the scam! I know people who probably know how it was done, but I've so far had to play an annoying sort of "warmer/colder" guessing game with them as they're still bound by legal agreements.

Re:They could at least write it with ResEdit! (1)

mrpoppy (806859) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305636)

I too have been following the Adam's Platform saga for ages now. Remember the outrage when some journo from The Australian was championing this guy's cause as an Aussie Battler trying to make it in the big time? Despite the journalist receiving mountains of letters from some very smart people proving that Adam's claims could not be true, he still stood by him.

Re:They could at least write it with ResEdit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305836)

Remember the outrage when some journo from The Australian was championing this guy's cause as an Aussie Battler trying to make it in the big time?

You know, I thought I did remember something like that ages ago, but I'm damned if I can find any reference to the article on the net. You don't remember the author's name by any chance, do you?

The really interesting thing is that over the last 3 or 4 weeks while all this has been coming unravelled, The Australian IT hasn't covered Media World at all! I haven't seen any reference to it in other NewsCorp media either (though I may be wrong on this - I haven't checked it all!).

It makes me wonder if most of the cash they recieved from licenses to APT wasn't from, say, Rupert Murdoch... it would explain their unskeptical attitude earlier and their possibly embarassed silence now.

I don't pretend to know anything about this - it's pure speculation, but you've got to wonder why they'd choose not to cover such a juicy story...

Re:They could at least write it with ResEdit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305853)

The really interesting thing is that over the last 3 or 4 weeks while all this has been coming unravelled, The Australian IT hasn't covered Media World at all! I haven't seen any reference to it in other NewsCorp media either (though I may be wrong on this - I haven't checked it all!).

You're right. Anything about it lately has only appeared on Fairfax (AFR/SMH/Age). The Australian has been deadly silent about it. Look it up on news.google.com.

MWC was a prospecting company (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10306229)

This is IMO the most likely scenario of what happened :

We have a a gold prospecting company with remaining assets but no future ... of course the "management" would have gotten squat if they just liquidized everything, so they managed to con the remaining investors into going with Adams pie in the sky. Saving their own hides, realizing full and well it was all a scam.

Patents (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304579)

Sounds like those patents are licensed for free within the context of this project, but not if you take the technology out of the codec. Fine, great, except that's the same license Microsoft offered on their SPF stuff, and they got drilled for it.

what? (3, Funny)

squarefish (561836) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304581)

the BBC working with software?

did they have anything to do with python?

Re:what? (1)

calculadoru (760076) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305211)

did they have anything to do with python?

YES [bbc.co.uk]

Re:what? (3, Funny)

UserGoogol (623581) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305246)

Oh wow. I had absolutely no idea that there was once a comedy group named after the Python programming language. And in 1969! Those cats were ahead of their time.

Re:what? (1)

phaze3000 (204500) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305780)

Hey, they been doing this stuff for years.

Only problem is, it's all written in BBC Basic [bbcbasic.com] .

Dang, now when they invent the FTL telephone... (5, Funny)

argent (18001) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304600)

Dang, now when they invent the FTL telephone they won't be able to call it the Dirac Communicator, 'cos everyone will think it's some kind of MP3 player!

Another SF classic (Cities in Flight) shot down by careless scientist types. Goldarn it!

"licensed for free within the Dirac software" (4, Interesting)

Papineau (527159) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304671)

Does that mean the license does not extend to other usages (besides in Dirac)?

This could be problematic to include in Mplayer, as Mplayer is licensed under the GPL, and IIRC, there's a patent clause (clause #4?) in the GPL saying something along the lines of "if you license your patent for use in a GPL software, the license extends to all software derived from the first one, not only that first one".

Is this a correct reading of the situation?

Re:"licensed for free within the Dirac software" (1)

Srin Tuar (147269) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304828)


The fart that they intend to release it undor the GPL means that so long as you keep your derived code under the GPL youre fine.

What's behind the name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304698)

Anything to do with Paul Dirac [bbc.co.uk] ?

Re:What's behind the name? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10304974)

Yo Dude thats offtopic.
Pussy-assed TV oogling typists csn't understand Physics allusions...Its tooooo HARD!

BBC Commitment to Open Standards (3, Insightful)

alib001 (654044) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304721)

TD: I think the BBC has always had a very strong commitment to Open Standards...

Yeah... a Real [bbc.co.uk] strong commitment.

There's a list of excuses for their audio streams here [bbc.co.uk] . (No, you may not: cue / rewind / download the stuff the license [bbc.co.uk] payers paid to produce.)

Hopefully they'll sort out their copyright / rights management issues and delivery by the time dirac comes out. Frankly, it couldn't make things worse.

mplayer is bloated and going nowhere (1, Offtopic)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304745)

Who cares about mplayer support?

It's bloated. On both linux and MacOS X, it consumes considerable CPU resources- and that's with the fancy interpolation it supposedly does turned off. My Powerbook G4, for example- mplayer consumes about 60% CPU, enough to bake my lap and turn on the fan after a while. VLC, on the other hand- needs about 20%, keeping my lap happy.

I had a similar experience with Xine- it would take up only a few percent of my athlon's CPU time, but mplayer would practically throttle the system...and Xine supported on the fly variable speed playback(ala VCR jog control).

Mplayer has been under "development" for several years. It hasn't seen any major or even minor feature additions. The user interface sucks, especially on OS X. For the most part, the only thing it can do is play video- on a very, very basic level; case and point, once it gets out of sync, it stays out of sync. About its only good quality is that its seeking is very fast and quite good- VLC's seeking sucks (takes forever, sometimes knocks video/audio out of sync for a few seconds- it recovers though, by scaling either the video or audio for a few seconds until they match again).

Re:mplayer is bloated and going nowhere (1)

Srin Tuar (147269) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304846)

I dont use Mac hardware, but Ive had about the exact opposite experince.

Some CPU intensive stuff I have been unable to play in anything but mplayer. (xin e and others couldnt keep up)

futhermore, its the only thing ive been able to play matroska files in, so its the only choice really. if not for those things i would prefers xine's ui.

Re:mplayer is bloated and going nowhere (1)

42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304934)

The times I've used VLC (on windows anyway, never used it on linux), the A/V resync caused a noticable change in audio pitch. I've never noticed such a pitch change in mplayer (though it does take a while to resync)

Re:mplayer is bloated and going nowhere (1)

erikharrison (633719) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305164)

mplayer has as part of it's arechetectural design to squeeze every frame it can out of the hardware. That's one of the reasons it's build process has historically been so complex, and the reason it has a strictly single threaded design (or at least did last I checked).

mplayer plays just about everything, and is pretty ubiquitous. Xine has been in RC status forever now, and pulls in plenty of its codec work from mplayer anyway.

mplayer is the bottom line for video playback on alternative OS's. Get it into mplayer, and it'll quickly spread to other players.

Re:mplayer is bloated and going nowhere (3, Informative)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305696)

Who cares about mplayer support?

Those of us who prefer our keyboard to our mouse. And other folks.

It's bloated. On both linux and MacOS X, it consumes considerable CPU resources- and that's with the fancy interpolation it supposedly does turned off. My Powerbook G4, for example- mplayer consumes about 60% CPU, enough to bake my lap and turn on the fan after a while. VLC, on the other hand- needs about 20%, keeping my lap happy.

You misconfigured it. This is, admittedly, not hard to do, but mplayer is the fastest of movie players if used correctly.

Try using the following command: mplayer -vo xv -fs=yes moviename.

Hmm, upon checking the manual, perhaps if Mac OS X lacks support for xv you should be using -vo quartz.

Mplayer has been under "development" for several years. It hasn't seen any major or even minor feature additions. /me boggles.

You've got to be joking. What about the latest ChangeLog [mplayerhq.hu] ?

The user interface sucks, especially on OS X.

Actually, mplayer has some kind of bitmapped interface, which I always compile out. I hate all of those damned bitmapped interfaces, the pseudo-VCR things. It has a CLI interface which is exactly the same on OS X as on the other platforms.

What happened to BitTorrent plan? (2, Interesting)

peteryorke (815196) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304756)

What happened to BitTorrent plan for delivery of all the BBC archives? Wasn't it in August 2003 of last year that the BBC said it was going to deliver all of it's audio and video archive via Bit Torrent? I want all my BBC content online for download. When's it gonna happen or is this just more BBC pie in the sky R&D fluff.

Re:What happened to BitTorrent plan? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305828)

From what I hear, it is being tested with around 1000 users right now. Its not just the archives though - its part of a larger project to have a 'Listen Again' (which was for radio) style system for TV.

but when.. (2, Insightful)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 10 years ago | (#10304799)

Do we get a government based report looking into it and decicing it's a waste of the licence fee money then kill it?

The BBC is funded by people paying a licence to watch TV in the UK (it is illegal not to have one and watch TV in your place of residences). Now 99% of these people arn't geeks and won't use a codec, why are they paying for it?

Re:but when.. (4, Insightful)

trewornan (608722) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305369)

Now 99% of these people arn't geeks and won't use a codec, why are they paying for it?

Because in the future they will be using it (or something like it) and if the BBC don't sort something out right now - in ten years time we'll all be needing Microsoft's permission to view what their PR department doesn't object to.

Re:but when.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305600)

Have a quick look around the web, TV is moving very rapidly from its specialised delivery systems to IP. Dirac is in the right place at the right time.

He works for BBC and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305057)

I used tried and techniques, like wavelets, which weren't in standards at the time, and tried to develop them.

I thought they spoke good English in the Queen's land?! Is he not from the South of England?!

network television (5, Funny)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305154)

The BBC has an R&D department that builds video codecs. In the states, we've got PBS which makes a new muppet every 10 years, and ABCNNBCBS, which came up with projecting a yellow bar across the football scrimmage line in the 40 years since introducing color TV. That's why America is leading the media revolution!

Re:network television (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305965)

I hate the BBC. They are the reason that we in the UK have to pay £110 a year in tax just to own a television. THEY CAN SHOVE THEIR CODECS, BUDDY.

Re:network television (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 10 years ago | (#10306058)

That R&D department (a black box which you pour money in and get cool toys out) is possible because of the £120 a year fee every household in the UK has to pay.

Usable? (0, Offtopic)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 10 years ago | (#10305238)

I'm doing my senior project now in college and it deals with video and online distribution. I'm going to be studying distribution via P2P and Bittorrent and such, but I was wondering if this codec was even close to usable yet, and what would I have to do to implement it.

Otherwise, I'm interested in a cheap (read: free) video streaming solution that would allow people to distribute the load ala streamcast or something, because I can't afford the bandwidth bill.

To implement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10305602)

Download the source code, compile as library. Use.
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