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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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  • Dirac (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @09:27AM (#31799388)
    This is awesome! Not to detract from it, but why is there so much more love for Theora than for Dirac?
  • Paging Chris DiBona (Score:4, Interesting)

    by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@@@davidgerard...co...uk> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @09:28AM (#31799392) Homepage

    Chris DiBona of the Google open source group claimed [whatwg.org] that "If [youtube] were to switch to theora and maintain even a semblance of the current youtube quality it would take up most available bandwidth across the Internet."

    This was shown to be false [xiph.org].

    Mr DiBona then mysteriously vanished without trace.

    Could he please manifest and either (a) support his claims or (b) concede his error?

    Thanks ever so much.

  • by Mystra_x64 (1108487) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:02AM (#31799556)

    XML serialization of HTML is still there. XForms... I never heard it worked in any browser sans some 3rd party plugins.

    So, please, describe what's rubbish in HTML. Those new elements are _needeed_ anyway. It's better to have them than to implement anew every time you need them.

    I don't understand what's you problem with audio and video either. They are here anyway with flash. You can disable flash. You can disable audio/video if you really want to. Your problem is?

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:14AM (#31799580) Journal

    Many of its new elements have gone out of their way to bring back the combination of presentation and content that we've tried to get rid of for over 15 years now.

    Absolutely not true. The new tags are for things like articles, sections, and so on. They provide more semantic information, not less. The HTML 2 approach removed all of these as redundant because you can implement them with class attributes. The problem with this is that one site will use <div class="article">, another will use <div class="post">, a third will use <div class="blog">, and this makes it very difficult for the browser to render them in a consistent way and for other user agents to know that they represent articles. In contrast, HTML5 pages will use the <article> tag.

    Others, like canvas, encourage JavaScript to be used more than it ever should be. Furthermore, the audio and video playback will end up as the next-generation marquee or blink element; annoying, misused and hated by all.

    They don't allow you to do anything that you can't do in Flash already. Flash is often abused, but in some cases it's used very effectively. I'd rather have an open standard than a proprietary system. Things like Web Socket are also very useful, allowing you to keep a connection to the server open and incrementally fetch data without polling. Something like Slashdot could use this to insert posts into an open page whenever someone posts them, rather than fetching them in a blob when you hit 'more,' for example.

    What's worst of all, though, is that XHTML, XForms and other sensible standards are being discarded for something so much worse.

    XHTML is not being discarded. XHTML 2 is. I like XHTML 2 a lot, and if I were creating the web now as a new system, I'd want something like XHTML 2. Unfortunately, this is not the current situation. XHTML 2 is a great standard for designing document formats, but it doesn't in any way reflect how people are building web sites today, let alone tomorrow. If every browser supported XHTML 2 tomorrow, I doubt you'd see more than a handful of sites using it in a year's time. In contrast, people are already using bits of [X]HTML 5, because they're actually useful.

    XHTML 2 made the same mistake the W3C did with HTML 4 and XHTML 1. The spec was written before the implementation. With HTML 5, every feature has to have a well-defined use case and must have two independent implementations before it goes into the final spec.

    I've written in more detail about HTML 5 in two [informit.com] articles [informit.com]. I don't agree with everything in the spec, but it's a lot better than HTML 4 + Flash.

  • Re:Dirac (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:41AM (#31799698)

    There are rumors that a number of the major companies, except for Adobe are moving towards an agreement on Dirac in Ogg containers as the new standard at least for higher resolution/bandwith content. From what I understand, Google is also in favor of Dirac but wants Theora as fallback codec for mobile devices/phones with less bandwith and CPU resources -- at least for now. Both are great codecs and it looks like in the long run Dirac may become the standard codec for HD content.

  • by Graymalkin (13732) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:05AM (#31799792)

    XHTML is easy to generate, manipulate, and validate? Have you ever written software that tried to handle XHTML? It's as complex as writing an XML handler which is not trivial to do properly. Things like tag attributes add a whole extra layer of complexity to getting a machine to actually understand the document. Your contention that HTML5 is regressing with respect mixing presentation and content is ignorant and borderline stupid. It makes me wonder if you've even read the spec. HTML5 eliminates presentation tags like center, tt, and the font tag. It does add tags that make it easier for user agents to determine the context of different parts of a document.

    For instance the header, footer, and article tags let the UA figure out in a search which parts of the document they ought to pay more attention to. Search engines can focus on text inside article tags and ignore text matches in the footer or nav tags for instance. Screen readers don't need to try to parse pages based on tag attributes like they have to with HTML4/XHTML. A screen reader can know that it doesn't need to bother reading the contents of the footer or it can more easily provide a verbal menu based on the sections of the document.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:08AM (#31799810)

    David, aside from two blogs using the same shitty WordPress themes, when have you ever seen two sites that look exactly like? It's very, very rare. And besides, if the <article> tag is being used to control rendering, that makes it a presentational element no different than <b>, <i> tables, and other crap like that we've tried to get rid of.

    In reality, do you know what's going to happen with the <article> element? In order to make it render properly, people will have to specify a class or style, and fix the rendering using CSS. There's really no beneficial difference between <article class="..."> and <div class="...">. Most sensible people will just use divs, since they're supported by just about every browser still in use today.

    Web Sockets and crap like that are nothing more than pathetic hacks to work around the web platform being a steaming pile of shit 95% of the time. Like with previous hacks, such as JavaScript, we've seen that they introduce huge security flaws, all for comparatively little gain. As for your Slashdot example, they could obtain the same effect by just using JavaScript's setTimeout function to make an AJAX request and grab any comments since the last check. There's no need for persistent connections or any stupidity like that.

    Also, HTML5 is not a specification. A specification is defined before the implementation, not after it. It's difficult to even call it a "standard", with vendors still arguing over video codecs and shit like that. I personally prefer to call it a "failure".

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:31AM (#31799916)

    Theora lost because it wasn't as good as H.264 and it's still not as good as H.264 bit for bit. The only reason why the opensource world support it isn't because it's better, but because it's the only "open source friendly" option. Sorry, but that just because it fits an idelogoy doesn't mean much to the part of the world that uses the product. It's like suggesting that a professional 3D/video shop use Blender instead of Maya or Cinelerra instead of Final Cut Pro or Avid. The professionals are going to take a look at it for a while and go, "Nice toy, now I've got to get back to work."

    If the opensource world wants Theroa to succeed, you're going to have to produce something that's better than H.264 end of story. Until then the people are working in Video are going to continue using H.264 because it's everywhere and is currently the best mainstream codec available.

    I worked in Video production in the late 90's through about 2005. H.264 was a godsend when we finally had a single Codec that was adopted by pretty much all recording hardware and editing software. Before it was a Codec Hell. Nobody I talk to in the industry, and I still have a lot of friends who work everywhere from their basement to large production shops, have any interest in embracing Theora or anything else. They only want to support 1 Codec that works everywhere, and that's H.264. Even if it costs them a little bit of money. Because whatever it costs them is likely cheaper than the headaches of having to support multiple formats.

    Now, if Theora or some other patent free format gets to the point where it can offer at least the same (really it has to be BETTER than H.264 in features and quality) only then will the production houses be interested in switching. And by better, offer at least the same quality as H.264 at a lower bit rate than H.264.

  • Re:Dirac (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2010 @12:27PM (#31800142)

    BBC ues Dirac mainly for lossless video production.

    This is different from the typical web usage of the Theora codec.

    There are room for both and they will most likely help each other over time.

  • Re:Beyond awesome! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @12:58PM (#31800260)

    H.264 is an open standard, so the fox is not crying.

  • by chrisd (1457) * <chrisd@dibona.com> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @01:35PM (#31800384) Homepage
    Sorry, but Theora is still not as high quality as later codecs. That hasn't changed. But I was very happy to fund this work out of my group.
  • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @04:42PM (#31801394) Journal

    Ogg may indeed be less than ideal, but that article exaggerates it's problems.

    Which begs the question: why not use the free/open Matroska container instead? It can hold almost any media stream, including Theora, and supports multiple selectable sound and subtitle streams for a video stream. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matroska [wikipedia.org]

  • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@@@davidgerard...co...uk> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @05:23PM (#31801720) Homepage

    "Theora is still not as high quality as later codecs."

    Indeed. However, I didn't say otherwise, the xiph.org page doesn't say otherwise and that isn't what your original assertion said. You are answering in a manner difficult to distinguish from being evasive.

    Could you please address the original questions, and the findings detailed on that page?

  • by Graymalkin (13732) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @06:49PM (#31802622)

    So a single browser will support an extension to the Ogg format to give it the ability MPEG-4 has had since its inception? They're only eleven years behind MPEG-4 part 12. Are they going to roll out edit lists sometime around 2020? The indexing only works if you go through all of your existing Ogg content and rebuild it using the new keyframe indexing. If YouTube had bet the farm on Ogg a year ago they would be currently going back through their years worth of archive video to rebuild it to add indexes. Even then only Firefox would support it and stand alone players or other plug-ins might not.

    The Xiph guys feel it is appropriate to build the Ogg specification iteratively which dicks over anyone trying to implement it. Tomorrow will always bring a new feature that your plug-in or player needs to handle. I remember reading back in 2001 on the Ogg format mailing lists the Xiph people (Monty et al) admitting Ogg wasn't going to be great for realtime distribution over the web and that video services would likely avoid the Ogg container in favor of Theora/Vorbis inside RTP streams. That prediction fell on its face when the likes of YouTube picked HTTP for the application layer protocol.

  • by rawler (1005089) <ulrik@mikaelsson.gmail@com> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @07:05PM (#31802768)

    I've recently read the short description of the MPEG-LA license terms for broadcasters. (Not the full licenses, though)

    If I understand it correctly, by purchasing a license, you're allowed to use h.264 for YOUR distribution, but the terms does not mention re-licensing to third party. To my best guess, that would mean re-licensing is not allowed.

    But, and here's the catch, when YouTube-videos are embedded into other sites (Facebook, or Joe Shmoe:s blog) isn't that a form of re-sale to third party?

    Can someone with more insight comment on this?

  • Re:H.261 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thalassinos (1006625) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @07:27PM (#31803004)
    H.261 only supports two video frame sizes: CIF (352x288 luma with 176x144 chroma) and QCIF (176x144 with 88x72 chroma). Although still useful (and widely supported as you rightly mentioned), the supported resolutions are rather low. It can probably compete with a low resolution youtube video, but for more advanced uses, H.261 is not a player.

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