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Google Funds Ogg Theora For Mobile 183

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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  • Once again (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2010 @09:30AM (#31799408)

    The technically inferior is set to become the ubiquitously available option because the better option is entangled in non-technical problems.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:09AM (#31799566)

    Meh, getting 503s trying to log in. Sorry for the A/C Post.

    XHTML was interesting and lovely, and no one gave a shit. Ideology loses to practicality in almost every case until ideology is reformed to conform to reality.

    I think you'll find that if you look at HTML5, there's not a lot of presentational bits in it. Most of that is still reserved for CSS.

    You'll also find that the cases where things are defined at least gives the web a unified a way to handle real web pages that exist *today*. Right now, a new browser would have to reverse engineer what Chrome, FF, IE and friends did in order to know how to render the web. HTML5 at least identifies the reality that exists.

    You note that JS is being used to do things it shouldn't. On what grounds? Who are you to tell what should and shouldn't be done with a language and in a given environment? The practical fact is that folks *are* doing amazing things with JS. If you don't like the language, that's your problem. If you don't want it on your computer, don't use those websites. JS *does* lots of things today, and there's no reason to limit it artificially. You want something better out there? Come up with a solution and push it.

    Your final comment notes that web developers aren't interested in quality and technical superiority. You're right. Why should they? What they care about is getting a product out. You're asking them to solve problems that they don't have.

    Jeff Bailey
    (an employee of Google, not speaking for Google at all)

  • by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:27AM (#31799634)

    Canvas is not needed. You can create dynamic, animated graphics using the existing SVG standard.

    And yes, html5 brings back the integration of style and content.

    It is defined to maintain backwards compatibility by keeping some elements that are counter to the philosophy of html and yet fails to preserve the definition and presence of those elements. It is even halfassed at meeting its stated goals.

    Html5 spec does not specify a single DOM structure, unlike html2, this means that IE is going to continue to require hackish work around for cross platform js.

    Html5 may not be total crap compared to html4, but compared to the competing and now defunct standard xhtml2? It is utter irredeemable crap.

  • by MojoRilla ( 591502 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:37AM (#31799676)
    If Google was serious, they would release VP8 as open source, and open source the patents. They did just buy On2 [wikipedia.org]. Why support a codec that was state of the art in 2000?
  • Beyond awesome! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:46AM (#31799714) Homepage Journal

    This is beyond awesome, it's a game-changer. Google is one of those rare companies that singularly has the power to move markets, and it is revolutionary to see it do so in favor of consumers as it has. I understand the reasons why it has preferred H.264 over Theora, but it is really nice to see that it also understands the reasons why we should be preferring an open format instead. It's especially nice in an age of companies wanting to lock everything down and be the gatekeeper to everything, the major player in technology is pushing yet again to open things up.

    Sometimes I think that Google is about the only company that "gets it." They understand that more people using the Internet translates to more money in their pocket. Even if those people are not using Google's services directly, they are increasing the market such that collectively, it has more opportunity, which in turn translates into more $$$. They seem to not really care if other people are making more money as well, which really separates them in my mind from other companies, who are of the "it is not enough that I succeed, but everyone else must fail" mentality.

    Anyway, back to the topic at hand, one reason I've seen people regurgitate in why H.264 is the right way to go is because it is supported on hardware. Congratulations to Google on working to negate that argument.

  • by msclrhd ( 1211086 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:42AM (#31799956)

    Tags like header and footer denote semantics which are part of the content (content denotes what is displayed, not how it is displayed). They don't say "the footer should be in a 10pt font" -- that is up to the CSS. They (and the other layout elements) denote the semantics of what is currently being done in an ad-hoc way. They allow things like search engines to identify relevant information (e.g. ignore the footer sections).

    HTML5 is looking to be a great standard. Not perfect by any means, but it is a good step forward (giant leap?) in the right direction. Having a defined way of processing HTML5 and having an XML variant (XHTML) unified to the same DOM makes it easier to choose how you want to write/generate your HTML content.

    There were some nice ideas in XHTML2, but it didn't pan out. That does not mean that some of those ideas cannot be integrated into HTML in the future like section has been.

    It is also good to see Google seeking to improve video support.

    Gradually, HTML5 support will improve, as will support for CSS3 as these standards get finalised. Also, audio and video support will stabilise as well. These, with all the advances in support for MathML, SVG, SMIL and other standards as well as performance improvements for JavaScript and hardware-accelerated page rendering mean that the web is only growing in strength.

    As for JavaScript, it is just a scripting language -- you can do anything with it and hook it to anything. You do know that the "fetch more comments" feature of slashdot uses javascript? You do know that thunderbird and firefox make use of javascript for binding their UI together?

  • by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:45AM (#31799968) Homepage Journal

    Quality is not the reason why Theora lost to H.264, just like quality wasn't the reason why Vorbis lost to mp3.

  • by msclrhd ( 1211086 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:50AM (#31799988)

    The article, section, header, footer and aside tags don't have any presentation information (except that section/section/h1 is similar to using h2). A HTML5 browser should only have the following presentation logic done via CSS:
          article, section, header, footer, aside { display: block; }

    Anything more fancy is done by CSS. Which means that you can have a single CSS theme file (WordPress, ZenGarden, whatever) that is used by *any* website that uses HTML5 markup.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @11:59AM (#31800022) Homepage Journal

    Sometimes I think that Google just didn't "get it" in the first place when choosing H.264 for youtube.

    YouTube started out on Sorenson H.263 because Flash Player supported that out of the box. When iPhone and new versions of Flash Player started to support H.264, YouTube reencoded uploaded videos in the new format. It was a happy accident that Chrome and Safari supported the same codec for the HTML5 <video> element. Now that platforms stuck on Flash 7 (namely Wii) have upgraded to a version with H.264, YouTube appears not to do H.263 anymore. Theora is somewhere between H.263 and H.264 in quality, roughly on par with MPEG-4 part 2 codecs such as DivX and Xvid, but H.264 still uses half the bitrate of Theora for the same perceived quality.

  • by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @12:00PM (#31800030)

    The Xiph's group rebuttal page does nothing to show Chris DiBona's contention was false. As I have said before, through either ignorance or malice the Xiph guys dropped the ball on their comparison.

    1. Their larger Theora video has an audio track that's about 64kbps. The H264 video from YouTube has a 128kbps audio track (the numbers are rough since they're VBR tracks). This means for every second of video the Theora video has an extra 64kbps to throw at the video. While 64kbps might not sound like much that's 13% of the file's total bitrate. This gives the Theora track a 13% data rate advantage over YouTube's video. Every objective test I've ever seen has gauged AAC and Vorbis to have roughly equivalent audio quality at the same bitrate. If they want to make an actual comparison they would need to use a 128kbps Vorbis audio track.

    2. The Ogg file format really sucks for streaming over the internet. The Ogg container tries to be too general of a format when it's only being used to represent time based media. FFMPEG developer Mans has a lot to say [hardwarebug.org] about the container format. Thanks to sample and chunk tables in the MPEG-4 format seeks are really efficient over the network since the header gives you an index to all of the samples in the file. A single HTTP request or file seek is needed to seek to a particular time in the file, even if the full file hasn't been downloaded yet. For services like YouTube and Vimeo, especially in context of mobile connections, Ogg's inefficiency is a real detriment.

    3. MPEG-4 files with H.264/AAC tracks can be handled by the Flash plug-in as well as natively in browsers. YouTube and Vimeo and others can encode a single version of a file and serve it up to older browsers using Flash and newer browsers using the HTML5 video tag. If Ogg is added as an option that is another step in your decision tree. For individual requests this extra logic might be trivial but when you're handling millions of requests per hour this really adds up.

    I'm not defending any hyperbole Chris DiBona was spouting off about the internet grinding to a halt but Ogg and Theora are simply not optimal for a "baseline" media format. It's only real feature is the fact it is open source and doesn't require a license. This isn't the most useful feature in today's world because all of the mobile devices that would be served Theora files already have licenses for MPEG-4. Tens to hundreds of millions of phones already support MPEG-4. They're using MPEG-4 to do send video over MMS and e-mail and for watching video on the web. Theora improve any of those experiences.

  • Re:Beyond awesome! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Randle_Revar ( 229304 ) <kelly.clowers@gmail.com> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @01:51PM (#31800494) Homepage Journal

    It hardly matters if the specs are published, if you can't implement them without paying for patent licenses.

  • by Randle_Revar ( 229304 ) <kelly.clowers@gmail.com> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @01:53PM (#31800510) Homepage Journal

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

  • by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @02:01PM (#31800554)

    How does SVG handle sprite graphics? Far better than canvas does. To move a sprite, you can transform its position, with a canvas you have to re-composite the image. The sprite itself can be a traditional bit-mapped image if desired.

    Pixel art editing is somewhat possible. Canvas can generate a bitmap of the output, but SVG can not without and external converter. As you add pixels (really rectangles in the DOM of the svg) you dramatically explode the size of the DOM tree causing performance issues. With good partitioning algorithms, this can be partially mitigated by combining adjacent like pixels into single DOM objects.

    No web browser ever supported xhtml2, but then the only after the xhtml2 spec was shelved did browsers start to roll out any significant support for html5 either.

  • by Mystra_x64 ( 1108487 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @02:32PM (#31800724)

    1. XForms are a huge improvement which currently does not work. Good or bad bad it is.

    2. What? There already is a standard. Microsoft decided it does not need to do it the way it's written. Why would you think they'll implement something else?

    3. XHTML5 (XML serialization of HTML5) can include MathML and SVG too. Your point is? HTML serialization will be able to do that or so I heard.

    4. Predefined styles are backward compatibility. I don't like them either (aside from, maybe, b/i/etc) but I doubt browser vendors will do something about that. Otherwise users complain it's broken. And no, you cannot educate them on the issue. They do not care.

    5. This is something I don't like myself (sometimes). However, you can't really make something about that either (same reason). Well, you can somewhat - use XML serialization of HTML. However it'll only check validity of XML. Good thing anyway, you don't want a browser to analyze if it's allowed to have one element in the other - you may need to introduce new elements someday.

  • by Mystra_x64 ( 1108487 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @05:15PM (#31801654)

    Javascript does not magically do AJAX possible. It works because browser does it and give access to needed objects to javascript. This can happen with any language integrated with a browser.

  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @06:38PM (#31802520) Homepage Journal

    ``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.''

    Perhaps, but I think the story is actually more complicated than that.

    First of all, I am part of the "opensource world", and you are right that my reason for wanting Theora to get adopted is not that it's better than H.264. But it's not about open-source, either. It's about restrictions on use. H.264 is covered by software patents, and MPEG LA charges fees for its use. Long story short, this means that you can't just write an implementation of H.264 and distribute it. That's a practical issue that has little to do with ideology.

    Secondly, the comparison between video codecs and 3D video software isn't really relevant. What you use internally doesn't really matter, what matters is what you distribute. If you want to use proprietary software to produce your video, that's your choice. But if you are requiring proprietary software to view the video, you are forcing your choice on others. That's a different story.

    Thirdly, looking at history, it's clear that it's not always the best technology that succeeds. One example is Vorbis vs. MP3, where MP3 has stayed the most popular format, even though Vorbis has been both freely available and better.

    All in all, I am not against H.264, nor am I claiming anything about Theora's quality relative to H.264. However, I am saying that if you want to standardize on something, it had better be something that can be used by all interested parties. Unfortunately, H.264 does not seem to meet that requirement.

    If you want to support H.264, but not a truly free format, so be it. I can imagine many reasons why you would want to do that, and you have pointed out some in your post. But it is important to recognize that H.264 is not free, and that there is a barrier for would-be viewers of H.264-encoded video. This is the real reason why people like me support Theora. It's not about quality and it's not about open-source.

  • Re:Beyond awesome! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sheddd ( 592499 ) <[moc.troserhcaeb ... [ta] [kcoldaemj]> on Saturday April 10, 2010 @07:00PM (#31802726)
    Open Standard [wikipedia.org] means royalty free; h.264 isn't (with some exceptions; it's complicated [slashdot.org]).
  • Re:Dirac (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Saturday April 10, 2010 @10:52PM (#31804370) Journal
    Any useable codec can fly around a big, wide, fat intranet and seem perfect.
    The real world needs a low bandwidth, US IP lawyer safe, free codec.

How many NASA managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? "That's a known problem... don't worry about it."