Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 25th Mar 2010 11:55 UTC
Multimedia, AV And so the H264/Theora debate concerning HTML5 video continues. The most recent entry into the discussion comes from John Gruber, who argues that Theora is more in danger of patent litigation than H264. He's wrong, and here's why.
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Daring FUDball
by Radio on Thu 25th Mar 2010 12:21 UTC
Radio
Member since:
2009-06-20

With all this "html 5 video" and iPad "new world computing" bullsh*t, John Gruber is showing an uglier and uglier side.

Like Apple - remember the "Think Different" mantra, when they were the underdog, and not Intel & Microsoft new best buddies?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Daring FUDball
by kragil on Fri 26th Mar 2010 09:54 UTC in reply to "Daring FUDball"
kragil Member since:
2006-01-04

I only listen to real lawyers on patent matters.

http://tieguy.org/blog/2010/03/25/patent-101/

Everyone else is just masturbating ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Daring FUDball
by kragil on Fri 26th Mar 2010 18:03 UTC in reply to "RE: Daring FUDball"
kragil Member since:
2006-01-04
but...
by henderson101 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 12:24 UTC
henderson101
Member since:
2006-05-30

Gruber does have a point. In the wonderful world of Patents, Theora has zilch on its side. That could be enough to thwart it.

Reply Score: 5

RE: but...
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 25th Mar 2010 12:24 UTC in reply to "but..."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Gruber does have a point. In the wonderful world of Patents, Theora has zilch on its side. That could be enough to thwart it.


It has Google on its side.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: but...
by Kroc on Thu 25th Mar 2010 12:33 UTC in reply to "RE: but..."
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Yes, but Google use H.264 as well. They include OGG in Chrome for the simple reason that, as an open source product, the H.264 component will not be available in all instances and all locales (particularly Linux). By providing both, Google allow Chrome a fallback mechanism under the assumption that developers will already be providing an OGG encode for Firefox support.

If legitimate, quantifiable patents rise against OGG, then what's to say that Google won't just simply drop OGG from Chrome.

Only their purchase of On2 demonstrates their concern against H.264. OGG has no patents to protect itself, but if Google own On2, then they own a bunch of patents which can be used a defensive collateral for VP8.

I'm playing devil's advocate anyway. I agree with you, and thank you for the well written article.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: but...
by pgeorgi on Thu 25th Mar 2010 12:35 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: but..."
pgeorgi Member since:
2010-02-18

Yes, but Google use H.264 as well.

MPEG-LA licenses seem to be limited to the specific codecs in most cases. I don't know the license Google acquired, but with your average "I can use H.264" license, you didn't license the patents for any other use.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: but...
by Laurence on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:58 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: but..."
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

Yes, but Google use H.264 as well. They include OGG in Chrome for the simple reason that, as an open source product, the H.264 component will not be available in all instances and all locales (particularly Linux). By providing both, Google allow Chrome a fallback mechanism under the assumption that developers will already be providing an OGG encode for Firefox support.

If legitimate, quantifiable patents rise against OGG, then what's to say that Google won't just simply drop OGG from Chrome.

Only their purchase of On2 demonstrates their concern against H.264. OGG has no patents to protect itself, but if Google own On2, then they own a bunch of patents which can be used a defensive collateral for VP8.

I'm playing devil's advocate anyway. I agree with you, and thank you for the well written article.


Agreed. (couldn't +1 you)

Also, the fact that Youtube favours H.264 over Theora should be warning signs enough for people who want to speculate over Google future codec allegiances

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: but...
by segedunum on Thu 25th Mar 2010 14:12 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: but..."
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

They include OGG in Chrome for the simple reason that, as an open source product, the H.264 component will not be available in all instances and all locales (particularly Linux). By providing both, Google allow Chrome a fallback mechanism under the assumption that developers will already be providing an OGG encode for Firefox support.

It's a bit early, but that's why h.264 has probably already lost. I laughed at all those people spouting nonsense regarding Firefox and "Oh, if they don't support h.264 no one will use them". Well, it's the other way on - Google knows Firefox is out there, not everyone can play back h.264 and they simply have to provide a fallback.

In then end, people are just going to use the more widely available format and, paradoxically, browsers and devices are going to use the format that is more widely available and that they don't have to pay ridiculous fees for - which could change at any time, regardless of assurances.

If legitimate, quantifiable patents rise against OGG, then what's to say that Google won't just simply drop OGG from Chrome.

Ifs, buts maybes. We know h.264 is patented and you have to pay for the thing. We know of no way that Theora is currently patented. That's the situation, and the latter is infinitely preferable.

Google won't drop Theora support from Chrome because history has shown us that once you've started supporting something you can't just drop it that easily. They've provided Theora support for the reasons you've stated above, and to go back on that is rather messy.

Only their purchase of On2 demonstrates their concern against H.264. OGG has no patents to protect itself, but if Google own On2, then they own a bunch of patents which can be used a defensive collateral for VP8.

Quite frankly, I'm not interested in Google protecting us. Google already support Theora, and as such they will have to move to protect it in exactly the same way because they will have content in it and users who need to play it back.

I'm playing devil's advocate anyway.

Always nice. Having gone through it I'm more certain that h.264 can't have a future as a standard on the web, and fortunately we have an alternative which we didn't when we got hoodwinked with GIF.

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: but...
by steve_s on Thu 25th Mar 2010 17:49 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: but..."
steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

It's a bit early, but that's why h.264 has probably already lost. I laughed at all those people spouting nonsense regarding Firefox and "Oh, if they don't support h.264 no one will use them". Well, it's the other way on - Google knows Firefox is out there, not everyone can play back h.264 and they simply have to provide a fallback.


Thing is, most browsers can playback h.264, since they have a flash plugin. It's possible to determine in JavaScript whether a browser's video tag will support h.264 or not, so one would simply replace video tags with a fallback flash player.

Thus Google can keep YouTube serving out h.264, and not bother encoding Theora versions for Firefox.

What I think is most absurd about Firefox's position is that they're not just handing off all codec handing to an external framework. Safari happily supports Theora and Ogg streams if you have the Xiph QuickTime components installed...

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: but...
by segedunum on Fri 26th Mar 2010 14:38 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: but..."
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Thing is, most browsers can playback h.264, since they have a flash plugin.

Flash is not h.264.

It's possible to determine in JavaScript whether a browser's video tag will support h.264 or not, so one would simply replace video tags with a fallback flash player.

I'm pretty sure you can't actually do that with Firefox - and Firefox has done that deliberately.

Thus Google can keep YouTube serving out h.264, and not bother encoding Theora versions for Firefox.

Nevertheless, Google is supporting Theora.

What I think is most absurd about Firefox's position is that they're not just handing off all codec handing to an external framework. Safari happily supports Theora and Ogg streams if you have the Xiph QuickTime components installed...

No one cares about third-party codec support. This is all about a lowest common denominator as to what every browser can feasibly support - both technologically and legally.

We went through all that third-party codecs stuff for many years with Real and Windows Media and video on the internet. It failed because no one could reasonably rely on what would be installed and supported. That's why Flash video has become rather a defacto standard. "Oh, you can install a third-party codec or hand off to a framework...." does not provide reliable internet video and is not an answer.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: but...
by boldingd on Fri 26th Mar 2010 18:51 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: but..."
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

"It's possible to determine in JavaScript whether a browser's video tag will support h.264 or not, so one would simply replace video tags with a fallback flash player.

I'm pretty sure you can't actually do that with Firefox - and Firefox has done that deliberately.
"

Maybe not directly, but I'm willing to bet you could just detect the driver version, and do A if Firefox and B if anyone else. Or do h.264 if (browser_id is in h264_browsers), and flash_fallback otherwise.

We went through all that third-party codecs stuff for many years with Real and Windows Media and video on the internet. It failed because no one could reasonably rely on what would be installed and supported. That's why Flash video has become rather a defacto standard. "Oh, you can install a third-party codec or hand off to a framework...." does not provide reliable internet video and is not an answer.


Well-said and good point. What I kinda don't get is why we can't just have multiple blessed codecs (much as we have multiple blessed image formats)?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: but...
by kaiwai on Thu 25th Mar 2010 12:51 UTC in reply to "RE: but..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

Gruber does have a point. In the wonderful world of Patents, Theora has zilch on its side. That could be enough to thwart it.

It has Google on its side.


And why may I ask would Google remotely give a shit about Theora? in all seriousness - why would they give a crap considering that it would be simply a matter of dropping Theora support from Chrome? You're trying to make out that Google actually cares about Theora when in reality its nothing more than a lip service to the open source crowd in the same way that Darwin (Mac OS X) is nothing more than lip service to the open source world.

Edited 2010-03-25 12:52 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: but...
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: but..."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"Gruber does have a point. In the wonderful world of Patents, Theora has zilch on its side. That could be enough to thwart it.

It has Google on its side.


And why may I ask would Google remotely give a shit about Theora? in all seriousness - why would they give a crap considering that it would be simply a matter of dropping Theora support from Chrome? You're trying to make out that Google actually cares about Theora when in reality its nothing more than a lip service to the open source crowd in the same way that Darwin (Mac OS X) is nothing more than lip service to the open source world.
"

It is about control. Control of "permission" for Google to serve video on the web.

If Google use Theora, then Google have control over Google's ability to serve video on the web. No-one can hinder Google's right, or ability, to do it, if they use Theora.

If Google use H.264, then these companies would have control over Google's permission to serve video on the web:

http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/AVC/Pages/Licensors.aspx

That isn't exactly a list of "friends of Google".

I think you may find that patent holders do not have to be "reasonable". They can simply say to Google "no, you may not serve h.264 video, because we don't like you".

If all of the web clients can only render h.264 vide, Google would be out of the game. Fortunately, we are nowhere near that point yet.

Edited 2010-03-25 13:02 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: but...
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: but..."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

And why may I ask would Google remotely give a shit about Theora? in all seriousness - why would they give a crap considering that it would be simply a matter of dropping Theora support from Chrome?


Because a patent suit against Google regarding Theora wouldn't be solved by that at all. Theora has been included in Chrome for a while now, and any patent troll would want to see damages incurred during that time.

Dropping Theora support would solve only half of the equation in this hypothetical scneario.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: but...
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:06 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: but..."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"And why may I ask would Google remotely give a shit about Theora? in all seriousness - why would they give a crap considering that it would be simply a matter of dropping Theora support from Chrome?


Because a patent suit against Google regarding Theora wouldn't be solved by that at all. Theora has been included in Chrome for a while now, and any patent troll would want to see damages incurred during that time.

Dropping Theora support would solve only half of the equation in this hypothetical scneario.
"

That is assuming a patent troll would win. Theora is based on a pretty old codec. I'm pretty certain (by now) that there is no relevant, earlier, patented technology out there. Apple have been looking for it for nearly ten years now, and haven't come up with any.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: but...
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:40 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: but..."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I'm sorry, I still need to get over the fact we're on the same side on this one.

I keep expecting Elvis to land in his space ship to balance it all out.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: but...
by mabhatter on Sat 27th Mar 2010 03:34 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: but..."
mabhatter Member since:
2005-07-17

"[q]And why may I ask would Google remotely give a shit about Theora? in all seriousness - why would they give a crap considering that it would be simply a matter of dropping Theora support from Chrome?


Because a patent suit against Google regarding Theora wouldn't be solved by that at all. Theora has been included in Chrome for a while now, and any patent troll would want to see damages incurred during that time.

Dropping Theora support would solve only half of the equation in this hypothetical scneario.
"

That is assuming a patent troll would win. Theora is based on a pretty old codec. I'm pretty certain (by now) that there is no relevant, earlier, patented technology out there. Apple have been looking for it for nearly ten years now, and haven't come up with any. [/q]

Apple's not "looking for patents" they paid up "protection" to MPEG-LA and at this point they are the 800lb gorilla in the room. I'd venture Apple is getting the royalties for much less than anybody else... because they control enough media market, where Apple goes, the market goes. h.264 helps with lock-in to their stack... Apple wants to help "creatives" but only with "paid for", "locked down" tools.... Most OSS codex are locked out of Apple by default... they don't even toss in an EXT2/3 driver or other pieces that would play nicer with Linux and gain allies. Apple's biggest weakness right now is trying to "walk their own road" and not being willing to bring in other folks "enemy of my enemy" type deals.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: but...
by boldingd on Thu 25th Mar 2010 22:12 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: but..."
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

Hypothetically, I think it (dropping Theora support) could at least reduce the damages that might be awarded. IANAL, but I think that, using loose language, the more of a good-faith effort you put forward to resolve a situation, the lower your damages are likely to be.

I also agree with Kaiwaii: I don't think Google are deeply committed to Theora in Chrome. It's more likely that they realize that, given that Chrome is technically an open-source project, they'd have to do extra work to keep us freetards from shoving Theora support in there somewhere. I strongly suspect they're just appeasing the FOSS community, more than they really care about supporting Theora. I think the comparison to Darwin is actually fairly apt.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: but...
by nt_jerkface on Thu 25th Mar 2010 19:42 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: but..."
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

You're trying to make out that Google actually cares about Theora when in reality its nothing more than a lip service to the open source crowd


Google is the boyfriend that smacks the FOSS crowd around a little when he gets drunk but is still a "good guy" since there was that one time that he stood up for her at the county fair.

As for patent trolls Google isn't a good target since they aren't making money off the Theora codec. If they were sued they could just claim ignorance and remove it.

But let's say for the sake of argument that Theora does violate patents. Whose patents would those most likely be? MPEG-LA, and Google doesn't have to worry about their codec alliance partner suing them for including an open source codec that only exists in their browser for image reasons.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: but...
by JAlexoid on Thu 25th Mar 2010 22:35 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: but..."
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Google is the boyfriend that smacks the FOSS crowd around a little when he gets drunk but is still a "good guy" since there was that one time that he stood up for her at the county fair.

As for patent trolls Google isn't a good target since they aren't making money off the Theora codec. If they were sued they could just claim ignorance and remove it.

But let's say for the sake of argument that Theora does violate patents. Whose patents would those most likely be? MPEG-LA, and Google doesn't have to worry about their codec alliance partner suing them for including an open source codec that only exists in their browser for image reasons.


Are we forgetting Summer of Code? It's basically Google paying students for participating in FOSS projects. This year it'll be the 6th time they are doing SoC, so "since there was that one time" is just misleading or an outright lie.

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: but...
by nt_jerkface on Fri 26th Mar 2010 00:42 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: but..."
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26


Are we forgetting Summer of Code? It's basically Google paying students for participating in FOSS projects. This year it'll be the 6th time they are doing SoC, so "since there was that one time" is just misleading or an outright lie.


It isn't misleading or a lie because it's a half-joking in the first place. Get sense of humor already.

But yes Google has projects like the summer of cheap labor for appeasing the FOSS crowd and they eat it up. Some of those FOSS advocates even believe Google is an open source company when in reality their business is based around a highly secret proprietary search algorithm. The fact that they don't even release their own internal build of Linux says enough.

I can't believe how strong the FOSS / Google love affair is after they stonewalled Theora. But I suppose a company with billions that doesn't like Microsoft will always turn on FOSS advocates. They probably can't help themselves much like a woman who is sexually attracted to a jerk.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: but...
by lemur2 on Fri 26th Mar 2010 02:16 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: but..."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Some of those FOSS advocates even believe Google is an open source company when in reality their business is based around a highly secret proprietary search algorithm.


Meh. Anyone is allowed to write any software for their own purposes, and do with it what they please. It is their software.

The fact that they don't even release their own internal build of Linux says enough.


Read the GPL license.
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html

The copyleft provisions of that license apply ONLY to re-distribution. It is one of the four freedoms that you are guaranteed with FOSS software that you may modify the code as much as you please and use it for your own purposes without having to reveal your changes to anyone.

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/quick-guide-gplv3.html
Nobody should be restricted by the software they use. There are four freedoms that every user should have:

the freedom to use the software for any purpose,
the freedom to change the software to suit your needs,
the freedom to share the software with your friends and neighbors, and
the freedom to share the changes you make.


The first two freedoms apply here. These two say NOTHING about a requirement to share you changes if you use the software for your own purposes.

They probably can't help themselves much like a woman who is sexually attracted to a jerk.


Why do advocates of proprietary software constantly feel the need to unfairly disparage others? What is WRONG with these people?

Edited 2010-03-26 02:20 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: but...
by Soulbender on Fri 26th Mar 2010 12:04 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: but..."
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

I can't believe how strong the FOSS / Google love affair is


Yes that is a bit odd but and so is all the love for IBM.
Btw, that boyfriend thing? That was funny.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: but...
by izomiac on Sun 28th Mar 2010 01:47 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: but..."
izomiac Member since:
2006-07-26

It isn't misleading or a lie because it's a half-joking in the first place. Get sense of humor already.

A half-joke is 50% truth. It can just as easily mislead or lie as any other statement, although it tends to be harder to spot. That's why people love metaphors to make arguments, since they rarely get called out for cherry picking what parts of the metaphor actually apply.

OTOH, a half-joke is 50% funny as well. I'm not quite sure that a quick reference to Stockholm syndrome is really amusing, since it's not an intrinsically funny topic. I suppose it's cynical, but cynicism is a distinct entity from jest.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: but...
by darwinOS on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:18 UTC in reply to "RE: but..."
darwinOS Member since:
2009-11-02

If google really believes that supporting Theora is minimal threat, why don't they Use it on YOUTUBE? why did they invested in buying a new Codecs? Google is like a whore if you pay them (with supporting Theora, they get the OSS- Supporters heart), they gonna do what ever you want! They do any thing to get more users and Ads market.
Only the future will tell, I don't believe that Mozilla will keep their Position, Google is taking their Market-space. Buy supporting both Codecs they are getting Firefox-users, but they will not use Theora in any Productive Space.

my two cents

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: but...
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:35 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: but..."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

If google really believes that supporting Theora is minimal threat, why don't they Use it on YOUTUBE? why did they invested in buying a new Codecs? Google is like a whore if you pay them (with supporting Theora, they get the OSS- Supporters heart), they gonna do what ever you want! They do any thing to get more users and Ads market.
Only the future will tell, I don't believe that Mozilla will keep their Position, Google is taking their Market-space. Buy supporting both Codecs they are getting Firefox-users, but they will not use Theora in any Productive Space.

my two cents


As long as MPEG LA do not control the market completely, MPEG LA need YouTube to be h.264. MPEG LA might even SPONSOR YouTube to use h.264 ... that is a possibility.

Eraly last year, MPEG LA were starting to get very confident of their position. There was no other competitive codec. Mozilla announced a donation to improve Theora, but pfffft ... that wasn't a threat (or so thought MPEG LA).

http://techcrunch.com/2009/01/26/mozilla-gives-100000-grant-towards...

Early last year, MPEG LA began talking about increases in the license fees for h.264 for use on the web. Google saw the writing on the wall, and bought On2 (about mid-year), hoping to gain an alternative codec from that.

Unfortunately, On2 are licensees of MPEG LA.

http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/AVC/Pages/Licensees.aspx
(number 465).

Late last year (well after Google had bought On2), Mozilla's funding of Xiph.org for development of Theora bore fruit. Xiph.org released the Thusnelda branch of Theora, which finally was competitive with h.264.

As a side-note, development of Theora continues, and the next branch (called ptalarbvorm, which is now still experimental) is an appreciable improvement over Thusnelda (and hence, an improvement over h.264).

http://people.xiph.org/~greg/video/ptalarbvorm/

Thusnelda and Ptalarbvorm both make perfect sense for Google to use "in production space". The earlier Theora 1.0, which was out when Google bought On2, was not suitable.

Edited 2010-03-25 13:38 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: but...
by macUser on Thu 25th Mar 2010 14:43 UTC in reply to "RE: but..."
macUser Member since:
2006-12-15

"Gruber does have a point. In the wonderful world of Patents, Theora has zilch on its side. That could be enough to thwart it.


It has Google on its side.
"

And Google is the antithesis of evil... right?

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: but...
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 25th Mar 2010 15:08 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: but..."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

"[q]Gruber does have a point. In the wonderful world of Patents, Theora has zilch on its side. That could be enough to thwart it.


It has Google on its side.
"

And Google is the antithesis of evil... right? [/q]

What does that have to do with anything? Gruber claims nobody stands behind Theora - but cleary, Google does. That's all there is to is. Your point about Google being evil is irrelevant.

And you're obviously right. Like any other company, Google is inherently evil. Just in this particular matter, they're on the good side.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: but...
by foljs on Thu 25th Mar 2010 21:11 UTC in reply to "RE: but..."
foljs Member since:
2006-01-09

And Google will defend Theora, in case of litigation, instead of dropping it immediately from Chrome like a hot pile of shit, because?

Google is already licensed to use H264, has already implemented H264 in Chrome in addition to theory, and is a heavy user of H264 in, you know, THE WORLD'S BIGGEST VIDEO SITE.

Chrome's use of Theora is mostly for completeness and to get some good vibrations from the FLOSS community.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: but...
by ssokolow on Thu 25th Mar 2010 23:09 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: but..."
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

I suspect Google is just supporting Theora because it's what Wikipedia is insisting on and not everybody has installed Java for their fallback player.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: but...
by mabhatter on Sat 27th Mar 2010 03:18 UTC in reply to "RE: but..."
mabhatter Member since:
2005-07-17

"Gruber does have a point. In the wonderful world of Patents, Theora has zilch on its side. That could be enough to thwart it.


It has Google on its side.
"

more importantly the Theora codex does have patents filed from the original authors and signed over to xliph. The patented codex is known to all the competitors. Unfortunately, there is little in the law about disclosing when your patent is violated... even if you're directly asked. It's "public knowledge" because it's in the Patent database....but if you search the database then you become liable for triple damages, yeah!

I do agree there are underhanded ways of getting patents through. Like the MP3 fiasco where companies that WERE part of the original MPEG-LA settlement used technicalities and loopholes to REMOVE MPEG-LA's right to sublicense then started a whole new round of suits against the whole list that paid up once. This is the problem Theora has, and because non-profits don't have deep pockets the money to gain is by waiting for people with money to infringe rather than making their intentions known.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: but...
by Intellihence on Sun 28th Mar 2010 15:32 UTC in reply to "RE: but..."
Intellihence Member since:
2010-03-28

Well the HTC has Google on it's side, but earlier this week, Jobs & Schmidt were seen together having coffee. Apple should just go on ahead & smash HTC to smithereens.

Reply Score: 1

Just FUD
by imtiaz on Thu 25th Mar 2010 12:33 UTC
imtiaz
Member since:
2005-07-06

The author is just spreading FUD. He did not show any considerable argument.
He just want to tell others that H264 have money power if someone threats with patent infringement. So, go with H264.
Total BS.

Reply Score: 3

pgeorgi
Member since:
2010-02-18

Submarine patents aren't that interesting anymore, for the reasons stated.

There's another category of patents that _both_ Theora and all MPEG codecs might get in trouble with: independent patents.

See what Sisvel does with MP3. That's not a submarine patent issue, it's simply a patent by someone who decided not to participate in MPEG-LA licensing.

The same can happen to h.264 or to Theora. And neither Xiph.org nor MPEG-LA will indemnify you against that - how could they indemnify you against a patent holder that (discriminately, as is their right) forbids you from using their patent at all?

Unless there's some actual infringement on MPEG-LA patents by Theora (which they can't substantiate for 10 years now), MPEG costs money, Theora does not, and the risks are about the same.

Reply Score: 4

Elephant in the room
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 12:46 UTC
lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

The "elephant in the room" is that VP3 is patented, and Theora is based on VP3.

On2 gave Xiph.org an irrevocable right to develop Theora based on VP3 patents.

OK, you may ask ... why exactly is this an "elephant in the room"? Well, the point is that if there is patentable technology that is included in both Theora as well as in H.264 ... then VP3 is older. Theora is likely to be the one covered by patent, and H.264 is likely to be the infringer!!!

However ... this shouldn't happen at all (so MPEG LA can breathe a bit of a sigh of relief here). It shouldn't happen because if there was a patentable technology in VP3, then On2 should have patented it, and the USPTO should not have granted a second patent later on to H.264 for the same technology. If VP3 uses technology that wasn't patentable (and so isn't covered by On2's patents for VP3), then that same technology shouldn't be patentable later on if one of the MPEG LA group of companies tried to patent it.

If the USPTO did its job properly, there should be no technology covered by an H.264 patent within the earlier VP3 technologies.

Reply Score: 11

Reading between the lines ...
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 12:55 UTC
lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

Apple is indirectly asking ... no, pleading ... for anyone to come forward who has a magic patent (that shouldn't exist, BTW, if the USPTO was doing its job) that is older than VP3 and covers the same technology as VP3.

Please, please, please Apple are signalling, all you noble patent trolls, attack Theora. You are certain to find silent backers if you do.

Apple have apparently been asking (no, pleading) for this for nearly ten years now.

So far, no takers. Bad luck, Apple.

Edited 2010-03-25 13:12 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Here's the thing...
by bhtooefr on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:41 UTC
bhtooefr
Member since:
2009-02-19

Just because MPEG-LA (or someone else) hasn't sued someone for using Theora doesn't mean that they can't in the future.

And, just because they're trying to intimidate people doesn't mean that there's not actually patents.

One common technique is to wait until the patent has almost expired, or there's a lot of money in Theora. Right now, there's not that much money to go after for Theora. If/when it gets more deeply rooted, there's a lot of money.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Here's the thing...
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:51 UTC in reply to "Here's the thing..."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Just because MPEG-LA (or someone else) hasn't sued someone for using Theora doesn't mean that they can't in the future.

And, just because they're trying to intimidate people doesn't mean that there's not actually patents.

One common technique is to wait until the patent has almost expired, or there's a lot of money in Theora. Right now, there's not that much money to go after for Theora. If/when it gets more deeply rooted, there's a lot of money.


This ignores the fact that the Theora technology is older than h.264.

If Theora and H.264 do have some common technology, and there is a patent squabble, then Theora prevails, not h.264.

No-one else (other than MPEG LA members) are making any grumble about Theora. This has been the case for almost ten years now.

Finally, all that the MPEG LA members ever do is make ominous-sounding-but-vague hints of potential patent difficulties for Theora. All hat and no cattle.

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/all_hat_and_no_cattle

Edited 2010-03-25 13:56 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Here's the thing...
by bhtooefr on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:54 UTC in reply to "RE: Here's the thing..."
bhtooefr Member since:
2009-02-19

Theoretically, there could be something that VP3 didn't do, but Theora did. In that case, it COULD infringe on H.264.

Also, "H.264" isn't A patent, it's a patent pool. I haven't looked, but there could be patents in the pool that predate VP3.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Here's the thing...
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 14:13 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Here's the thing..."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Theoretically, there could be something that VP3 didn't do, but Theora did. In that case, it COULD infringe on H.264.


Theoretically, I suppose. However, I have a player that is Theora 1.0, and it can still play these videos encoded by later versions of the encoder:

http://people.xiph.org/~greg/video/ptalarbvorm/

Xiph.org aren't playing about with the format or mucking about with new technologies, they are simply optimising the encoder.

PS: In threads like these, I am forever astounded by how many people seem to be desperate to try to find a problem for Theora. Theora is a collaboratively-developed freedom codec which anyone may use anywhare anytime in any context without restriction, a gift to humanity if you will.

Meanwhile, the competing codec H.264 is heavily patented, licensors of the codec make endless "all hat and no cattle" threats to sue left right & centre, both against competing codecs and their own users, and they have been doing so for almost ten years, but there is never any actual substance.

Why does ANYONE support those trolls?

Reply Score: 4

RE[4]: Here's the thing...
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 25th Mar 2010 14:16 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Here's the thing..."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Why does ANYONE support those trolls?


1) Because Apple does.
2) Because the quality question hasn't been properly settled yet - as in, the current version might be up to par/better, but without the actual tools using that latest version, people don't encounter said videos, strengthening their idea that Theora isn't as good as H264.
3) Because Apple does.

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: Here's the thing...
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 14:42 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Here's the thing..."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Because the quality question hasn't been properly settled yet - as in, the current version might be up to par/better, but without the actual tools using that latest version, people don't encounter said videos, strengthening their idea that Theora isn't as good as H264.


I performed a simple experiment for myself, that anyone may check.

I download a good-quality h.264 movie trailer.
General
File /home/*****/Videos/trailer_480p.mov
Size 150581 KB (147 MB)
Length 00:03:31

Video
Resolution 854 x 480
Aspect ratio 1.77917
Format H264
Bitrate 5712 kbps
Frames per second 23.977
Selected codec ffh264


Here are some screenshots of it playing on my system:
http://ourlan.homelinux.net/qdig/?Qwd=./Mov_480p&Qiv=name&Qis=M

I then downloaded a current Ogg converter, I used the Firefox extension called Firefogg:
http://firefogg.org/

I used Firefogg to convert this already-compressed-by-h264 video clip into Ogg video (Theora).

General
File /home/*****/Videos/trailer_480p.ogv
Size 108663 KB (106 MB)
Length 00:03:31
Demuxer ogg

Video
Resolution 854 x 480
Aspect ratio 1.77917
Format theo
Frames per second 23.977
Selected codec theora


Here are some screenshots of it playing on my system:
http://ourlan.homelinux.net/qdig/?Qwd=./Theora_480p&Qiv=name&Qis=M

(Sorry, but I'm not quick enough to get the exact same frames as a screenshot).

The Theora video is indistinguishable in quality form the h.264 one, yet it is only 72% of the file size and it has been transcoded from an already-compressed source against which we are comparing it.

The Theora video has every factor stacked against it in this test, but it works fine.

That is a QED as far as I am concerned. Theora has now got h.264 covered, quality-wise.

Apart from the actual tool called firefogg I linked above, here is another actual tool that Windows or Mac users might like to use:

http://www.mirovideoconverter.com/

How about that, tools for open video that anyone may use, even Mac and Windows users. Linux users have been able to use tools for Theora for ages, so I guess it is nice that the closed desktop platforms are finally catching up here.

Edited 2010-03-25 14:50 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Here's the thing...
by WereCatf on Thu 25th Mar 2010 14:52 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Here's the thing..."
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

I used Firefogg to convert this already-compressed-by-h264 video clip into Ogg video (Theora).

Using it on an already-compressed clip is idiotic. Obtain something that isn't compressed either by h.264 or Theora and then compress it with both and only then compare the results.

Reply Score: 7

RE[7]: Here's the thing...
by satan666 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 15:05 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Here's the thing..."
satan666 Member since:
2008-04-18

I used Firefogg to convert this already-compressed-by-h264 video clip into Ogg video (Theora).

Using it on an already-compressed clip is idiotic. Obtain something that isn't compressed either by h.264 or Theora and then compress it with both and only then compare the results.

Idiotic is your comment.
By decoding an already encoded video and then re-encoding it, the quality can only go south. But in fact it doesn't because the quality of theora's video is as good as the original. Lemur's experiment proves that the quality is the same and theora is on par with h264.
Edit: typo

Edited 2010-03-25 15:09 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[7]: Here's the thing...
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 22:31 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Here's the thing..."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I used Firefogg to convert this already-compressed-by-h264 video clip into Ogg video (Theora). Using it on an already-compressed clip is idiotic. Obtain something that isn't compressed either by h.264 or Theora and then compress it with both and only then compare the results.


I'm sorry, I'll try to be polite, but by saying this you show that you clearly don't understand lossy compression.

By allowing h.264 to encode the uncompressed video, but giving Theora only a lossy copy to work with, I have severly handicapped Theora in this comparison.

Theora still came up trumps.

Edited 2010-03-25 22:32 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Here's the thing...
by unavowed on Thu 25th Mar 2010 16:42 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Here's the thing..."
unavowed Member since:
2006-03-23

If you use mplayer, you can go frame-by-frame by pressing the '.' (period) key, which should solve your problem.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Here's the thing...
by Timmmm on Sun 28th Mar 2010 16:21 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Here's the thing..."
Timmmm Member since:
2006-07-25

Of course they are indistinguishable! You used a bitrate of over 4 Mb/s on 480p video! That's insane. For comparison a 2 hour movie on a 700 MB CD is about 0.8 Mb/s.

Better luck next time.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Here's the thing...
by Mr.Manatane on Thu 25th Mar 2010 15:39 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Here's the thing..."
Mr.Manatane Member since:
2010-03-19


He's wrong, and here's why.

No: YOU think he's wrong, and here's why (perhaps).
That's not because it's YOUR opinion that it's the truth...

1) Because Apple does.
2) Because the quality question hasn't been properly settled yet - as in, the current version might be up to par/better, but without the actual tools using that latest version, people don't encounter said videos, strengthening their idea that Theora isn't as good as H264.
3) Because Apple does.

Correction here

1) Because you hate Apple.
2) Eugenia (and a lot of people) already make articles showing that Theora IS not as good as H264. But you seems to just not read them.
3) Because you hate Apple.

And just because you own Apple stuff doesn't give your some credibility not to be an Apple hater. I am running Windows every day (more than any oses in fact) and I hate it.

than why on earth would one of the biggest technology companies in the world ship it as part of its browser and as part of its operating system?

Because, in every case, Google has the money to pay for the patents ...

Edited 2010-03-25 15:44 UTC

Reply Score: 0

RE[4]: Here's the thing...
by bhtooefr on Thu 25th Mar 2010 14:23 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Here's the thing..."
bhtooefr Member since:
2009-02-19

I don't SUPPORT them.

It's just that I lean towards pragmatist. H.264 has quite a lot of momentum behind it.

My prediction is that, if <video> takes hold, Firefox is dead, unless the plugin approach (the very thing that <video> is trying to avoid,) preferably using the host's native media framework and any codecs available to it, is used. (This will also provide increased performance, as generally the native media frameworks are optimized to use the host's graphics system in the most efficient manner.) Opera may end up having to shell out for an H.264 license.

If Mozilla doesn't provide a way for H.264 content to be played back in Firefox, then Chrome will completely replace Firefox.

(I'll note, BTW, that I'm an Opera user.)

More likely, though, video sites will consider the Firefox userbase as too large to lose, and <video> won't take hold. Flash will remain as the dominant web video format, and every browser will suffer from its goatse-sized security holes.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Here's the thing...
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 25th Mar 2010 14:35 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Here's the thing..."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

It's just that I lean towards pragmatist.


Yup, the same pragmatism that led to Fash' dominance, and IE-only sites.

Reply Score: 3

RE[6]: Here's the thing...
by bhtooefr on Thu 25th Mar 2010 14:43 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Here's the thing..."
bhtooefr Member since:
2009-02-19

The only way to knock H.264 off is to get some very rich company to sue MPEG LA on Xiph or On2's behalf, for some infringement that H.264 commits on VP3/Theora.

Otherwise, H.264 has way too much momentum.

Like I said, I think what's actually going to happen is that this will kill <video> - and ultimately, Flash is going to win this one. (And, by extension, H.264 that way.)

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: Here's the thing...
by StephenBeDoper on Thu 25th Mar 2010 18:37 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Here's the thing..."
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

"It's just that I lean towards pragmatist.


Yup, the same pragmatism that led to Fash' dominance, and IE-only sites.
"

Speaking as someone who worked primarily as a "web monkey" during the time periods when those technologies became dominant, I can tell you it was a little more complex than that.

In reality there are several factors that severely limit the choices that web developers have on those matters - things like the overall OS/browser/web technology landscape, the expectations of end users, the demands of clients, etc.

Those are foremost concerns for every web developer I've met or worked with (with the exceptions of hobbyists who just don't have any clients to worry about). A web developer can advocate open standards until he's blue in the face - but there's not much he can realistically do if the client says "no thanks, we'll take cheaper, de-facto standard solution please."

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Here's the thing...
by boldingd on Thu 25th Mar 2010 23:18 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Here's the thing..."
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

For some of us, it's not that we "support the trolls", as much as we sometimes feel that your analysis of the situations overlooks a handful of legitimate points that the h.264 camp may make -- or ignores certain inconvenient facts about the current web landscape. Really believing that Theora is a good thing shouldn't preclude living in the real world or treating those who disagree with you like they aren't complete idiots.

FWIW, I'd also number myself among the Theora partisans. But I'm willing to see the situation for what it is. There are a lot of deep-pocketed entities arrayed against us, making a win for Team Open here fairly unlikely. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is, and admitting it doesn't somehow make me an h.264 troll.

Edited 2010-03-25 23:18 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Here's the thing...
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 23:34 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Here's the thing..."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

For some of us, it's not that we "support the trolls", as much as we sometimes feel that your analysis of the situations overlooks a handful of legitimate points that the h.264 camp may make -- or ignores certain inconvenient facts about the current web landscape. Really believing that Theora is a good thing shouldn't preclude living in the real world or treating those who disagree with you like they aren't complete idiots. FWIW, I'd also number myself among the Theora partisans. But I'm willing to see the situation for what it is. There are a lot of deep-pocketed entities arrayed against us, making a win for Team Open here fairly unlikely. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is, and admitting it doesn't somehow make me an h.264 troll.


I don't claim at all that you are a troll, not by any means. MPEG LA are the trolls, the person quoted in the original article (John Gruber) is the troll. My point is that nothing is gained about being modest about where Theora is at. Right now, for the purpose of video for the web, Theora can give a better result than h.264.

I know that is not the conventional view, but the conventional view is wrong because it is out of date.

We should be shouting this from the rooftops, not being shy about it.

Edited 2010-03-25 23:35 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Here's the thing...
by boldingd on Thu 25th Mar 2010 23:56 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Here's the thing..."
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

Being courteous, fair or realistic are not weaknesses. "I am right and I am noble" is not an excuse to ignore everything your opponents say, and to constantly turn any and every discussion into blind advocacy of your position. You'd probably get a lot better reception, and better results, if you didn't treat the people who disagree with you like they where either complete idiots or traitors to civilization. Or turn a blind eye to the weaknesses in your own argument.

Reply Score: 3

RE[7]: Here's the thing...
by lemur2 on Fri 26th Mar 2010 00:07 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Here's the thing..."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Being courteous, fair or realistic are not weaknesses. "I am right and I am noble" is not an excuse to ignore everything your opponents say, and to constantly turn any and every discussion into blind advocacy of your position. You'd probably get a lot better reception, and better results, if you didn't treat the people who disagree with you like they where either complete idiots or traitors to civilization. Or turn a blind eye to the weaknesses in your own argument.


What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Proponents of the h.264 codec have absolutely no qualms at all about loudly claiming that Theora is rubbish, disparaging it at every opportunity, making bizzaro-world claims that using Theora makes one more susceptible to patent attack (as in the original article, which is clearly the exact opposite of reality), and utterly ignoring any evidence to the contrary.

Why should FOSS proponents be held to a different standard?

Edited 2010-03-26 00:08 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Technical superiority.
by Timmmm on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:54 UTC
Timmmm
Member since:
2006-07-25

As much as you'd like Theora to win this battle, it doesn't stand a chance. Look at MP3 vs Vorbis - in that case Vorbis was patent-free *and* technically superior and it still didn't win.

With Theora, the only thing it has going for it is its patent-freeness. H.264 is technically superior (it really is, and difference *is* noticeable to the average viewer). And it also has much better hardware and software support, like MP3.

Clearly the solution is to use plugins and host them in software-patent-free countries.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Technical superiority.
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:59 UTC in reply to "Technical superiority."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

With Theora, the only thing it has going for it is its patent-freeness. H.264 is technically superior (it really is, and difference *is* noticeable to the average viewer).


You are sadly very much out of date.

http://jilion.com/sublime/video

Check it out ... download it and play it. It is high quality, Resolution 1280 x 544, 25 fps, two minutes long and less than 20Mbytes.

Edited 2010-03-25 14:03 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Technical superiority.
by Timmmm on Thu 25th Mar 2010 23:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Technical superiority."
Timmmm Member since:
2006-07-25

I did check it out. The video is all static or nearly-static scenes. Not the sort of thing any codec has problems with.

Show me something where you can actually *see* the artifacts in both videos, like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8t7iSGAKik

(Sadly predictable answer: "You shouldn't be using bitrates that low")

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Technical superiority.
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 23:44 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Technical superiority."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I did check it out. The video is all static or nearly-static scenes. Not the sort of thing any codec has problems with.


This is why it gets just 20Mbyte filesize for two minutes worth of video.

The point is, I have NEVER seen any h.264 that gets anywhere near that low.

Show me something where you can actually *see* the artifacts in both videos, like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8t7iSGAKik (Sadly predictable answer: "You shouldn't be using bitrates that low")


Wilco.

http://people.xiph.org/~greg/video/ytcompare/

You can find there three low-bitrate video frame images from youtube h.264 (499kbit), Thusnelda (486kbit) and ptalarbvorm (376kbit), all of virtually-indistinguishable quality.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Technical superiority.
by Timmmm on Fri 26th Mar 2010 00:13 UTC in reply to "RE: Technical superiority."
Timmmm Member since:
2006-07-25

In fact I just did my own test.

Source video: high bitrate 1080p h.264: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/guide/hd/artbeats_red.html

This was shrunk to 640x480 using ffmpeg (this also messes up the aspect ratio but I don't care about that here):

ffmpeg -i artbeats_red_m1080p.mov -f yuv4mpegpipe -s 640x480 test.y4m

Then encoded using libtheora 1.1.0 (Thusnelda):

./encoder_example -V 300 --two-pass -o thesnulda.ogv test.y4m

And using x264:

x264 -B 300 -p 1 -o h264.mkv test.y4m
x264 -B 300 -p 2 -o h264.mkv test.y4m

So that both encodes were two-pass 300 kb/s. The final sizes are:

h264.mkv: 4842293 bytes
thusnelda.ogv: 4869379 bytes

So Theora is slightly bigger. Despite this, the difference in videos is *MASSIVE* and *OBVIOUS* at this low bitrate (which DOES GET USED!)

I applaud xiph's efforts and I think Theora is great, but it is just a bare-faced lie to say it is as good as H.264.

Here are the resulting videos to judge for yourself:

http://concentriclivers.com/misc/thusnelda.ogv
http://concentriclivers.com/misc/h264.mkv

NB: Both encoders seem to take a while to get into the swing of things, so start judging when you see the bulls.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Technical superiority.
by lemur2 on Fri 26th Mar 2010 01:39 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Technical superiority."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

So Theora is slightly bigger. Despite this, the difference in videos is *MASSIVE* and *OBVIOUS* at this low bitrate (which DOES GET USED!)

I applaud xiph's efforts and I think Theora is great, but it is just a bare-faced lie to say it is as good as H.264.


There you go, h.264 supporter more than prepared to call other people liars. Why should we be polite in the face of that?

Anyway, I have already demonstrated that Theora can get better results. Another poster (WereCatf) has obtained good results using ffmpeg. It is, however, quite easy to get a very disappointing result using ffmpeg from the commandline, one common error is to mistakenly constrain the encoder to using very small buffers.

So why don't you take your high-quality source (Source video: high bitrate 1080p h.264) and try it again using the firefogg transcoder or the Miro Video Converter:

http://openvideoalliance.org/2010/03/miro-video-converter-released-...
We’ve been quietly pointing people to a beta version of Miro Video Converter as a way to convert videos to Theora for use on Wikipedia. Today marks the official release.

The goal of Miro Video Converter is to give people a fast, easy, and intuitive way to convert videos. Most video converters have dozens of baffling settings about how to encode the video. Miro Video Converter is much easier. Just pick your file, choose your format or device, and click convert. It handles the settings for you. It just works. We think this is going to be great for open video—there’s finally a simple desktop application for users to effortlessly encode videos in high-quality Ogg Theora.


That should make it easier for you to get a high quality result for Theora, and avoid the need to again embarrass yourself through falsely accusing others of lying.

Edited 2010-03-26 01:44 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Technical superiority.
by Timmmm on Fri 26th Mar 2010 09:28 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Technical superiority."
Timmmm Member since:
2006-07-25

It is, however, quite easy to get a very disappointing result using ffmpeg from the commandline, one common error is to mistakenly constrain the encoder to using very small buffers.


a) I didn't use ffmpeg for either encode.
b) If that really is the problem it is *their* problem. I just used the default settings which is what everyone else will do. If you want me to tweak the settings for Theora, then I also have to tweak the settings for x264 which will presumably make that better too.

But I can see that you've made up your mind.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Technical superiority.
by lemur2 on Fri 26th Mar 2010 09:54 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Technical superiority."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"It is, however, quite easy to get a very disappointing result using ffmpeg from the commandline, one common error is to mistakenly constrain the encoder to using very small buffers.


a) I didn't use ffmpeg for either encode.
b) If that really is the problem it is *their* problem. I just used the default settings which is what everyone else will do. If you want me to tweak the settings for Theora, then I also have to tweak the settings for x264 which will presumably make that better too.

But I can see that you've made up your mind.
"

Get real.

It is always possible to make a bad video file out of even the best codec, for whatever reasons (intentional or not), but it is NOT possible to make a good video file out of a bad codec.

The fact that other people have made very decent, competitive bitrate/quality Theora video files means that it IS possible to do so.

I did it without any trouble whatsoever. I simply used one of the methods recommended here:
http://openvideoalliance.org/2010/03/lets-get-video-on-wikipedia/?l...

http://videoonwikipedia.org/howto.html
(step 2 of the howto in the above link, "Convert your video to an open format")

I did it first try. It was easy. I used the default settings (except that I enabled two-passes) in Firefogg.

The fact that you failed just means that you failed.

Edited 2010-03-26 09:56 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Technical superiority.
by boldingd on Fri 26th Mar 2010 19:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Technical superiority."
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

There you go, h.264 supporter more than prepared to call other people liars. Why should we be polite in the face of that?


He never called you a liar, and was in fact fairly respectable. This is a time when you're being an ass to someone who's being courteous to you -- which makes even less sense than being an ass to someone who's been rude to you.

\meme{Science does not work that way.} Repeatability (and verifiability and generality) of results is (are) an essential component of the scientific process. Just because you've set up one test where Theora gets better quality does not settle the issue: we need repeatable and generalizable tests, ideally tests with multiple trials and large ranges of inputs. It would be disingenuous to claim that Theora has been shown to be conclusively better or worse than h.264 until you've met that requirement.

But failing that, we should at least consider everyone's tests in aggregate. Accusing someone of "calling you a liar" because they present experimental evidence that doesn't line up with yours does little more than demonstrate how deeply and comically you misunderstand the scientific process.

Not that scientific methodology really has any bearing here, I guess. ;)

Edited 2010-03-26 19:02 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Technical superiority.
by lemur2 on Sat 27th Mar 2010 11:26 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Technical superiority."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"There you go, h.264 supporter more than prepared to call other people liars. Why should we be polite in the face of that?

He never called you a liar, and was in fact fairly respectable. This is a time when you're being an ass to someone who's being courteous to you -- which makes even less sense than being an ass to someone who's been rude to you.
"

Oh, yes, he did.

Here is his quote:
I applaud xiph's efforts and I think Theora is great, but it is just a bare-faced lie to say it is as good as H.264.


This was in response to a post of mine where I showed direct, tangible evidence of Theora being as good as h.264.

He was rude, not I. I merely called him out on it.

You really need to get rid of your bias, and look at what was actually said.

Edited 2010-03-27 11:27 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Technical superiority.
by WereCatf on Fri 26th Mar 2010 01:59 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Technical superiority."
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

So Theora is slightly bigger. Despite this, the difference in videos is *MASSIVE* and *OBVIOUS* at this low bitrate (which DOES GET USED!)

While I can confirm that at high bitrates Theora produces really good results I can ALSO confirm that at this low bitrate it really totally blows: I just did a similar test of my own as the previous one, but I used 300k bitrate and the results were just devastating. Theora video was not only blocky, it was really unsharp.

I honestly didn't expect it to perform this horribly.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Technical superiority.
by lemur2 on Fri 26th Mar 2010 02:10 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Technical superiority."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

So Theora is slightly bigger. Despite this, the difference in videos is *MASSIVE* and *OBVIOUS* at this low bitrate (which DOES GET USED!) While I can confirm that at high bitrates Theora produces really good results I can ALSO confirm that at this low bitrate it really totally blows: I just did a similar test of my own as the previous one, but I used 300k bitrate and the results were just devastating. Theora video was not only blocky, it was really unsharp. I honestly didn't expect it to perform this horribly.


Funny, there are results from people involved with Theora where Theora gets better and better compared with h264 when you go to lower bitrates.

http://people.xiph.org/~greg/video/ytcompare/comparison.html

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Technical superiority.
by WereCatf on Fri 26th Mar 2010 02:25 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Technical superiority."
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Funny, there are results from people involved with Theora where Theora gets better and better compared with h264 when you go to lower bitrates.

That may be if they use non-default settings and know what settings to tweak? Maybe they even tweaked Theora settings while left H.264 settings at default?

I don't know, I can only say that using default settings on both and with a low bitrate Theora performed significantly worse than H.264 and is not worth using :/

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Technical superiority.
by MissTJones on Fri 26th Mar 2010 13:00 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Technical superiority."
MissTJones Member since:
2010-03-25

You say that this bitrate is common yet this clip, encoded with what many regard as the the best encoder available (x264), looks terrible. Far below even the famously bad Youtube quality in many places, which makes sense as a quick google claims they use roughly this bitrate for videos 1/4 the size.

If this bitrate *is* used commonly for this size of file without such obviously poor results then perhaps the clip is unrepresentative and contains many difficult to encode scenes (snow, smoke, waterfalls, etc.)?

So it would be a more realistic test if you either used a more typical, easier to compress clip or you gave this difficult clip more bitrate, but if you did that the differences between the two encoders would fade away.

So all your test shows is that if you're going to encode at a rate that makes even x264 look bad, then Theora will look worse. I can see how technically that's a victory but it's not particularly satisfying is it?

All encoders fall off a cliff at some point as you reduce bitrate, pushing two competing encoders right to the edge and then publishing the results as if typical of the one that slips first is either a honest mistake or a cheap trick. Look at any graph of encoder quality and you'll see them all rise nearly vertically, bend then rise at a much reduced rate not much above horizontal. A small change in bitrate can have vastly different effects at different points in the curve.

It would be like reducing the memory available to two competing programs until one started swapping. It might prove that one uses more memory than the other but the resulting slowdowns would in no way be representative of the impact on normal usage.

Edited 2010-03-26 13:15 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Technical superiority.
by darknexus on Thu 25th Mar 2010 14:49 UTC in reply to "Technical superiority."
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

As much as you'd like Theora to win this battle, it doesn't stand a chance. Look at MP3 vs Vorbis - in that case Vorbis was patent-free *and* technically superior and it still didn't win.


Well, the mp3 patent holders were smart enough to change the terms to keep mp3 viable for most people. So far, the MPEG-LA has not done so permanently and even then the temporary web video terms aren't anywhere near as good for individuals as mp3. At least I can't be sued for encoding a file to mp3, even though I typically use Vorbis anyway.
Also, there was never an audio war. Quite a few hardware devices implemented Vorbis support alongside mp3 and there wasn't any hell raised. As for software, audio is typically passed off to your audio player of choice so it didn't matter what format the audio was in so long as it was in either mp3 or vorbis. Aside from iTunes and WMP, I can't think of any current software player that doesn't support Vorbis out of the box. In that way, the situation was a lot more gracefully resolved. Those who want mp3 use mp3, those who want vorbis use vorbis, and no one's screaming at the other side that they must adopt one format over the other. There's no real conflict on the audio side of things and even when there was it didn't last long thanks to Fraunhofer and others getting smart, and thanks to LAME kicking their ass when it came to quality.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Technical superiority.
by r_a_trip on Thu 25th Mar 2010 15:02 UTC in reply to "Technical superiority."
r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

Clearly the solution is to use plugins and host them in software-patent-free countries.

No! Clearly the solution is to just burn every pixel horny monkey at the stake and tell MPEGLA to shove it.

(God, why did you make stupidity painless...)

A little less quality and no more corporate taxes, to me, are preferable to your patented, rights limited, pay till you drop, a few pixels for your soul, nightmare world.

The way to get rid of software patents is to make sure there is no money to be made with it. Hosting infringing plugins in software-patent-free countries just puts unnecessary shackles on your fellow humans in software-patent-infested countries.

If there is no dependence on encumbered, costly codecs, there is no need to move into dubious grey areas by hosting in favorable jurisdictions. Everybody wins!

No, not true, we still need to burn Timmmm at the stake. :-P

Reply Score: 4

RE: Technical superiority.
by StephenBeDoper on Thu 25th Mar 2010 20:21 UTC in reply to "Technical superiority."
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

With Theora, the only thing it has going for it is its patent-freeness. H.264 is technically superior (it really is, and difference *is* noticeable to the average viewer).


I haven't found the quality difference to be noticeable, at least with settings that are typically used for video on the web (dimensions of 640x480 / 640x360 or smaller, bitrates less than 1,000kbps, etc).

That said, I'd still be interested in seeing the results of some basic double-blind testing. I'm surprised that no one has done that yet (to my knowledge), as the results would settle the image quality debate fairly effectively.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Technical superiority.
by boldingd on Thu 25th Mar 2010 22:26 UTC in reply to "RE: Technical superiority."
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

There are objective ways to measure the SNR for a given video, aren't there? Couldn't we at least theoretically do something like render 600 static images, save them in a lossless format, assemble them into a movie with an h.264 encoder and a Theora encoder, then measure the SNR's?

(I think SNR is the term I want... if I'm using it incorrectly, someone tell me. ;) )

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Technical superiority.
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 22:49 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Technical superiority."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

There are objective ways to measure the SNR for a given video, aren't there? Couldn't we at least theoretically do something like render 600 static images, save them in a lossless format, assemble them into a movie with an h.264 encoder and a Theora encoder, then measure the SNR's? (I think SNR is the term I want... if I'm using it incorrectly, someone tell me. ;) )


PSNR. Peak signal-to-noise-ratio.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_signal-to-noise_ratio

H.264 is a couple of db better on this measurement than Thusnelda for the same filesize. H.264 was quite a long way ahead of Theora 1.0 on this measurement.

http://web.mit.edu/xiphmont/Public/theora/demo7.html

Ptalarbvorm, the current still-experimental version of Theora, is at least as big an improvement over Thusnelda as Thusnelda was over Theora 1.0.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Technical superiority.
by MissTJones on Fri 26th Mar 2010 11:34 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Technical superiority."
MissTJones Member since:
2010-03-25

It's worth noting that Ptalabvorm is *intentionally* going to reduce PNSR substantially, by introducing psychovisual techniques that look better to humans, but do worse in simple numerical comparisons like PNSR (which as Monty says in that link should probably never be used to compare different codecs as there are too many variables. It can be useful for comparing small improvements in a single codec though.).

SSIM is a more advanced measurement technique which shows substantial improvements in 1.2 even as, indeed because, PNSR is reduced.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Technical superiority.
by StephenBeDoper on Thu 25th Mar 2010 23:08 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Technical superiority."
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

There are objective ways to measure the SNR for a given video, aren't there?


There are, but (IMO) the results are mainly useful/interesting from an academic standpoint - they don't tell you much about which codec people will prefer in real-world situations, since that involves a fair amount of subjective perception.

Reply Score: 2

MPEGLA is safe, but others?
by r_a_trip on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:56 UTC
r_a_trip
Member since:
2005-07-06

Grubers argument makes no sense. MPEGLA can defend itself against other patent holders. Very nice, but does MPEGLA indemnify licensors for patent infringement in the standard? I couldn't find it.

What good does it do if MPEGLA can countersue? If you are not indemnified against patent suits from third parties by MPEGLA for implementing H.264, you could equally be facing a suit. There is no basis in law that limits infringements suits to MPEGLA alone.

MPEGLA is not required to come to your rescue. Best case scenario MPEGLA is sued first and then settles, there by keeping the status quo. If there are additional fees to be payed as a result of the settlement, MPEGLA will probably just ratchet up the royalties on their own standard. It could go the other way too and then what?

So then the choice becomes Theora, which is patented but royalty free or H.264 which is patented and royaly royalty bearing. Plus you need to decide which degraded fidelity you like better; H.264 or Theora. Both are lossy.

Theora looks like the cheaper option, risk wise. Licensing and using H.264, with its Byzantine licensing structures, without a doubt exposes you to the MPEGLA patent pool. You sure you are clear in the way you use H.264, licensing wise?

Reply Score: 3

I Don't Want GIF Reloaded
by segedunum on Thu 25th Mar 2010 13:59 UTC
segedunum
Member since:
2005-07-06

If we use h.264 widely all that's going to happen is that some troll company will acquire a company who they think holds a patent related to a particular technology and then extort money. It happened with GIF and it's still happening to us with MP3. No amount of reassurances is going to stop that. It's far too easy a way to get money for nothing.

I'm not the slightest bit interested in quality, containers or hardware support right now. Once usage increases they will naturally increase and improve for Theora because there will be the market there for it.

To try and defend h.264 by saying that it is less encumbered than Theora is utterly laughable, but I actually find it comforting if h.264 supporters have changed their tac in that direction.

Edited 2010-03-25 14:00 UTC

Reply Score: 3

MPEG-LA did not claim patents on Theora
by MissTJones on Thu 25th Mar 2010 16:09 UTC
MissTJones
Member since:
2010-03-25

Both you and Gruber paraphrase the MPEG-LA comments loosely and decide that they have claimed to have patents that apply to Theora.

In fact the guy has gone right out of his way to avoid actually saying that, while still having it sound like that's what he's saying. It's impressively slimey.

Read his quotes carefully. He says Theora has patents, but never says who owns them. I'll tell you who owns them: On2 (and now Google). But he knows that going around sounding like a scooby-doo villian ("let no-one be under the misimpression that [Theora] is patent-free") will let people jump to conclusions that the patents are owned by 3rd parties and going to be used against them.

Monty from Xiph calls him out on exactly this in the article. It's all implication and innuendo.

Look at his answer to the direct questions:

Ozer: It sounds like you’ll be coming out and basically saying that to use Ogg, you need to license it from MPEG LA. Is that correct?

Horn: That is not what we said.

Reply Score: 4

Last CODEC ever
by AaronD on Thu 25th Mar 2010 19:19 UTC
AaronD
Member since:
2009-08-19

The thing I have learned from this debate is that H264 had better be the perfect codec. Since it will be impossible for anyone in the future to navigate the web of patents it will be impossible to make another codec that is not immune from litigation.

So much for photographic quality video.

Edited 2010-03-25 19:19 UTC

Reply Score: 0

RE: Last CODEC ever
by ssokolow on Thu 25th Mar 2010 23:06 UTC in reply to "Last CODEC ever"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

More true than you know since, according to an Ars article I read a month ago, H.265 will be relaxing the frame-perfection requirement to focus more on fooling the human perception of motion.

Reply Score: 0

nt_jerkface
Member since:
2009-08-26

If they were serious about making it a standard they wouldn't be pushing h.264.

The war is over and h.264 is going to become a de facto standard so there is no point in debating codec quality anymore.

Theora will live on in game development and in other areas where codec royalty rates are cost prohibitive.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by boldingd
by boldingd on Thu 25th Mar 2010 22:30 UTC
boldingd
Member since:
2009-02-19

It's amusing to me how much of a regression into 90's FUD that the claims debunked in the article are. Really. They are completely unsubstantiated, barely-rational, and amusingly vague and unspecified. They are designed entirely to make people shy away from a product that the person making the claim is biased against, by making them fear that its future may be threatened. Pretty much the textbook definition of "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt."

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by boldingd
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 22:36 UTC in reply to "Comment by boldingd"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

It's amusing to me how much of a regression into 90's FUD that the claims debunked in the article are. Really. They are completely unsubstantiated, barely-rational, and amusingly vague and unspecified. They are designed entirely to make people shy away from a product that the person making the claim is biased against, by making them fear that its future may be threatened. Pretty much the textbook definition of "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt."


True. Precisely.

The world is thankfully a bit more of a wakeup to this by now.

What is interesting, however, when you see claims of this nature, is that you can universally make the observation that the party making the vague claims is in fact the fearful one.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by boldingd
by boldingd on Thu 25th Mar 2010 23:04 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by boldingd"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

It's just entertaining to me. I see claims like that, "oh, no, that product we compete against might be eaten by vague, hypothetical patent-monsters in the unspecified future, you'd better use our product, just to be safe," and my reaction is pretty much, "I thought we as an industry had grown out of this year ago?" Guess I'm naive for expecting that to ever happen.

Reply Score: 3

Huh?
by Adam S on Thu 25th Mar 2010 22:46 UTC
Adam S
Member since:
2005-04-01

I must be confused. Chrome contains a Theora decoder. They don't encode anything in Theora, YouTube is H2645. Thom, why do you think anyone looking to sue over Theora would choose Google, who hasn't offered any content encoded this way?

Google is not backing Theora at all, and that whole line of reasoning is flawed.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Huh?
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 25th Mar 2010 22:47 UTC in reply to "Huh?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

The Theora decoder may use patented technology too, so may just as well be the target of patent litigation. Patents do not just cover encoding.

Edited 2010-03-25 22:48 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Huh?
by lemur2 on Thu 25th Mar 2010 23:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Huh?"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

The Theora decoder may use patented technology too, so may just as well be the target of patent litigation. Patents do not just cover encoding.


True, but since the decoder has not changed, this has been true for many years. No patent claims have emerged. Remember, Theora is an older format. The patent trolls making these vague no-substance threats against Theora have younger technology. Sorry, but in patent-world, that is a "close, but no cigar" scenario.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Huh?
by Thom_Holwerda on Thu 25th Mar 2010 23:06 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Huh?"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I know - I'm not saying the decoder IS liable (remember, I just wrote this article to dispell that?); I just wanted to point out to Adam that patents don't magically stop at encoders.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Huh?
by nt_jerkface on Fri 26th Mar 2010 00:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Huh?"
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

Yes but Google isn't much of a target since they aren't selling a product that uses Theora which would severely limit any award settlement. Google would most likely just remove the decoder and settle out of court.

And as I said earlier if anyone were to sue it would be MPEG-LA since they are the largest video codec patent holder. If Google dumped h.264 for Theora this would be a possibility but we know that won't happen. Theora really didn't have much of a chance when Google and Apple joined up with the MPEG-LA group.

The harsh reality is that Google has wanted to kill off Theora from the beginning. They knew they could include it in their browser while working against it at the same time. Theora was never held back by patents, it was held back by Google refusing to use it in YouTube.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Huh?
by lemur2 on Fri 26th Mar 2010 02:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Huh?"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Yes but Google isn't much of a target since they aren't selling a product that uses Theora which would severely limit any award settlement. Google would most likely just remove the decoder and settle out of court.


Since Theora is the older codec, any patent decision about common patented technology is more likely to go the other way ... older "inventions" trump newer ones which use the same methods.

So, do you think that MPEG LA would most likely just remove the decoder and settle out of court? What about all the fees they have been unfairly extracting to that point?

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Huh?
by nt_jerkface on Fri 26th Mar 2010 08:51 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Huh?"
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

Neither side wants a patent war but MPEG-LA would be willing to settle for millions if Theora actually had a case. The Theora group isn't in the movie business so a compromise would likely be reached. MPEG-LA isn't pushing HTML5 and would be content with having their codec stay inside plug-ins.

Reply Score: 2

codec quality
by cycoj on Fri 26th Mar 2010 03:05 UTC
cycoj
Member since:
2007-11-04

What I find funny in this discussion about codec quality is that although there might be differences between h264 and Theora we are talking about differences on quite a high level here, and much of it probably comes down to choosing the right optimization options for a specific video (explaining how both camps can claim superior performance). However if you look at the actual quality of popular youtube videos the quality is awful. Obviously users are not even bothered by this very low quality videos, clearly showing the video quality is not a priority for most users.

Reply Score: 3

The W3C should have stay
by reez on Fri 26th Mar 2010 10:27 UTC
reez
Member since:
2006-06-28

The W3C should have stayed with their original wording. Now with all this discussion Adobe/Flash is the real winner.

If both codecs have problems (I am a Theora fan) maybe one of the other codecs that get mentioned could replace both of them. I am not that much into codecs and for they are all sufficent. I understand that other people have different need, but a web relying on stuff that causes troubles with patents is IMO a very bad joke. It's nearly like staying with Flash and ActiveX. Maybe it's a bit extreme when from a technical point of view, but when it comes to legal questions and you have to pay for making a FOSS browser that's stupid.

The last option I see is creating a new codec, but I guess nobody really wants this.

It's really sad a long awaited feature causes so many compications :-(

Reply Score: 1