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Google Funds Ogg Theora For Mobile 183

Posted by Soulskill
from the swinging-for-the-fences dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google has decided to fund the development of Theora optimized for ARM processors. The article on the Open Source at Google blog notes the importance of having a universal baseline video codec for the Web: 'What is clear though, is that we need a baseline to work from — one standard format that (if all else fails) everything can fall back to. This doesn't need to be the most complex format, or the most advertised format, or even the format with the most companies involved in its creation. All it needs to do is to be available, everywhere. The codec in the frame for this is Ogg Theora, a spin off of the VP3 codec released into the wild by On2 a couple of years ago.'"
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Google Funds Ogg Theora For Mobile

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  • Re:Dirac (Score:4, Informative)

    by EdZ (755139) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @09:30AM (#31799406)
    Because Theora is much further along in development than Dirac?
  • Re:Dirac (Score:3, Informative)

    by kg8484 (1755554) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @09:45AM (#31799474)
    I think a big reason is because the Xiph project has a few other codecs developed in-house that are successful. Besides Vorbis, their MP3 alternative, Speex [speex.org] and and FLAC [sourceforge.net] are "under the Xiph.org banner" [wikipedia.org]. This allows them to promote Theora more. Also, Dirac was released in 2008 vs Theora's 2004, so Theora has had 4 more years to get a following.
  • Re:Dirac (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2010 @09:49AM (#31799494)

    > why is there so much more love for Theora than for Dirac?

    In order to play Flash video, or Silverlight video, browsers need a plugin.

    Theora/HTML5 video can play in Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome (without any plugin) and IE (this browser alone requires a plugin).

    (You can download that plugin for IE from here: http://code.google.com/chrome/chromeframe/ )

    Ogg Vorbis, Speex, Theora and FLAC files can play on Windows and Linux platforms.

    (Linux support is out-of-the-box, and you can get the support for Windows from here: http://www.xiph.org/dshow/ )

    This means that Theora is supported on most desktops, laptops and netbooks. Say 90% or more.

    There are 300,000 Theora videos on openvideo.dailymotion.com.

    Theora is the video codec for wikipedia

    http://videoonwikipedia.org/

    All of this means that Theora is infinitely better-supported, right now, today, than is Dirac.

  • Re:Dirac (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:02AM (#31799552) Journal

    CPU load. Theora is based on VP3, which is old. It was open sourced in 2004, but VP3 first shipped in 2000. Back in 2000, I had a 450MHz K6-2, and a lot of people I knew had slower machines. Now, a typical handheld is faster than that machine. Theora, like VP3, relies a lot on postprocessing passes for quality. This has the advantage that you can just not bother on slower machines, and get a slightly worse picture but with a lower CPU requirement.

    Dirac, in contrast, needs at least a 2GHz CPU to play back. It's patent free and looks great, but the CPU load is huge. There have been efforts to offload a lot of it onto the GPU, which is nice for the desktop but doesn't help older machines and handhelds (except the latest generation). The BBC is working with vendors to get Dirac implemented in hardware, but it won't be ubiquitous for quite a few years.

    Dirac also doesn't perform as well as Theora at low bitrates. This is very important for web streaming. Dirac is great for situations where bandwidth and CPU power are plentiful, but Theora makes more sense as a lowest common denominator solution. Ideally, you'd see both supported; Dirac for high quality, Theora for fallback.

  • Re:Once again (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:36AM (#31799672)

    Non-technical problems, such as H.264 requiring licensing patents.

    Patents are specifically intended to restrict usage of technology (to those who are inclined to pay for it).

    So - a royalty-free product which produces comparable (if slightly inferior) results *should* become the ubiquitously available option. It is as it should be. :-)

    I very much doubt, however, that Apple and Microsoft will include Theora in their web browsers or in the iPhone. I think it is much more likely that the patent-encumbered option is set to become more ubiquitous than the free option, due to corporate politics. (After all, neither Apple's or Microsoft's products support Theora or Vorbis out of the box now.)

    Neither Apple's or Microsoft's products support Flash out of the box either, yet Flash is fairly ubiquitous right now.

    http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy-20040205/
    "The goal of this policy is to assure that Recommendations produced under this policy can be implemented on a Royalty-Free (RF) basis."

    Therefore, Theora is the only codec suitable for use as the web video codec.

    The easiest way to get support for Theora video on browser clients is to install Firefox or Google Chrome. Almost half of the desktops/laptops/netbooks in use now have already done that anyway (Firefox has 40% worldwide, and Google Chrome about 7%).

    It is very easy to add Theora support throughout Windows media: http://www.xiph.org/dshow/

    There are plugins for IE that (possibly in conjunction with the Directshow filters) will enable Theora support in IE browsers.

    You might be able to get Theora supported on the iPhone via this submitted app:
    http://www.opera.com/press/releases/2010/03/23_3/

    That about covers it, one would think.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:06AM (#31799794)

    Why support a codec that was state of the art in 2000?

    You mean people should stop supporting things like mp3 just because you personally think it's too old?

  • Re:Once again (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:12AM (#31799830) Journal

    Neither Apple's or Microsoft's products support Flash out of the box either, yet Flash is fairly ubiquitous right now.

    Really? The last two Macs I've bought have come with Flash preinstalled. Not sure about Windows, but someone mentioned a few days ago here that their new Windows machine had Flash preinstalled, although it's not clear whether this was done by MS or the OEM.

  • by nxtw (866177) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:22AM (#31799874)

    How does OGG compare to MPEG4?

    Theora is perhaps better than H.263 and MPEG-2 (from the mid 90s), but does not come close to H.264/MPEG-4 AVC or VC-1. (The frozen Theora bitstream format is lacking many features found in H.264 and VC-1.) Results might be similar to H.263+/MPEG-4 ASP.

    The Ogg container also has some documented flaws [hardwarebug.org].

    Note that there are many sites which perform misleading or flawed comparisons of the two; for example, they might compare the result from YouTube's H.264 encoder with a lossy source (which optimizes for encoding speed) to a locally ran Theora encode with a lossless source.

    Since OS X 10.6 and Windows 7 come with H.264 decoding, and Windows 7 supports H.264 hardware decoding with compatible hardware from any source, I recommend sticking with H.264. (OS X 10.6's H.264 hardware decoding support appears to be limited to videos played in QuickTime X from MPEG4 or QuickTime container files on systems with nVidia 9400M GPUs or newer, even though Macs with capable GPUs started appearing in 2007.)

  • by dingen (958134) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @01:11PM (#31800306)
    But bandwidth does concern them. With H264, videos can use half the bandwith of Theora and look somewhat the same.
  • Re:Beyond awesome! (Score:3, Informative)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @01:58PM (#31800536)

    It's an open standard. This is well known.

    "The ITU-T H.264 standard and the ISO/IEC MPEG-4 AVC standard (formally, ISO/IEC 14496-10 - MPEG-4 Part 10, Advanced Video Coding) are jointly maintained so that they have identical technical content."

    Just because it is patented doesn't mean it's not open.

    It is the opposite side of the coin from something like WMV, which is proprietary.

Given its constituency, the only thing I expect to be "open" about [the Open Software Foundation] is its mouth. -- John Gilmore

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