Are you guys sick of the H264 debate already? Yes? Too bad, because we've got more. Microsoft's decision late last week to restrict Internet Explorer 9 to H264 was met with a rather immense amount of criticism, so the company decided to publish a new blog post responding to some of that criticism. While Microsoft makes a few good points, the overall feeling is still that of 'fear, uncertainty, and doubt'.
Multimedia, AV Archive
The inventor of the Ogg container format, Monty "xiphmont" Montgomery, has written up a remarkably detailed article refuting every complaint Mans Rullgard has posed in his anti-Ogg articles. "Mans Rullgard has written two long rants about the Ogg container in the past few years. One made it to Slashdot apparently based on the drama potential alone. If you don't know what I'm talking about below, don't worry about it, tl;dr. I'd not originally intended to respond to open trolling. The continued urging of many individuals has convinced me it's important to rebut in some public form. Earnest falsehoods left unchallenged risk being accepted as fact."
A major milestone for the x264 project - and for Free software in general. "Thanks to tireless work by Kieran Kunyha, Alex Giladi, Lamont Alston, and the Doom9 crowd, x264 can now produce Blu-ray-compliant video. Extra special thanks to The Criterion Collection for sponsoring the final compliance test to confirm x264's Blu-ray compliance. With x264's powerful compression, as demonstrated by the incredibly popular BD-Rebuilder Blu-ray backup software, it's quite possible to author Blu-ray disks on DVD9s (dual-layer DVDs) or even DVD5s (single-layer DVDs) with a reasonable level of quality. With a free software encoder and less need for an expensive Blu-ray burner, we are one step closer to putting HD optical media creation in the hands of the everyday user."
"In summary, it's possible to play full-screen Ogg Theora videos on the N900 at full frame rates with low CPU use by off-loading video decoding to the DSP and colour-space conversion and painting to the GPU. There are opportunities for optimization left, tuning for battery life needs to be investigated, and the integration into Firefox still needs to be done."
In line with the current torrent of articles on the H.264 and Theora debate, I feel that is it unfair for the "pragmatists" to talk about Theora as if it is a stupid ideal that is useless to consumers. This article will focus on defining the terms of the debate used and make the case that Theora has a reason, if not a chance.
This is a little bit off the beaten track for OSNews, but hey, it's about science fiction and it's funny. "This month, 'Battlefield Earth', the blockbuster bomb based on the novel by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, won the Razzie for 'Worst Movie of the Decade'. J.D. Shapiro, the film's first screenwriter, accepted the award in person. Shapiro, who also wrote the screenplay for 'Robin Hood: Men in Tights', 'We Married Margo', and is developing a King Arthur spoof called '524 AD', explains what it's like to be attached to one of Hollywood's most notorious flops."
In January, we had read the various arguments regarding Mozilla's decision not to get an H.264 license. This has generated a lot of discussion about the future of video on the web. With Youtube, Dailymotion, Hulu and Vimeo having adopted H.264 for HD video, Mozilla and Opera should use the codecs installed on a user's system to determine what the browser can play, rather than force other vendors to adopt Ogg. Refusing to support a superior codec would be a disservice to your users in years to come. Why hold back the majority of your users because 2% of your users are on niche OSes?
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.
This one was accidentally deleted from the submission queue when it was first submitted some time ago, so I decided to keep it around for a slow news day (such as this one - dear lord, it's quiet). FFmpeg developer Mans penned down a number of crucial problems with the Ogg container format.
"By encouraging more people to post videos in Wikipedia articles, we can bring theora video played in html5 to a very large audience. Currently, there are very few wikipedia articles that have videos. We hope that this campaign will bring thousands more to the site and show people how great theora can be. HTML 5 video, which plays without Flash, is a wonderful step towards a more open web - but if it depends on proprietary codecs like h.264, we will still be stuck with a gatekeeper for online video."
"Hulu on Tuesday announced on its blog that partner Viacom would be pulling its content from the service, and noted that shows like 'The Daily Show' and 'The Colbert Report' would only be available through the beginning of next week. Though an inconvenience for Hulu users who had relied on the service's subscription tools and new episode notifications, Hulu noted that most of the content that's being pulled will still be available back on ComedyCentral.com."
"A lot of commercial software comes with H.264 encoders and decoders, and some computers arrive with this software preinstalled. This leads a lot of people to believe that they can legally view and create H.264 videos for whatever purpose they like. Unfortunately for them, it ain't so."
The debate about HTML5 video is for the most part pretty straightforward: we all want HTML5 video, and we all recognise it's a better approach than Flash for online video. However, there's one thing we just can't seem to agree on: the codec. A number of benchmarks have been conducted recently, and they highlight the complexity of video encoding: they go either way.
Fantastic expose about Flash and HTML5 video by lead x264 developer Jason Garrett-Glaser. "The internet has been filled for quite some time with an enormous number of blog posts complaining about how Flash sucks - so much that it's sounding as if the entire internet is crying wolf. But, of course, despite the incessant complaining, they're right: Flash has terrible performance on anything other than Windows x86 and Adobe doesn't seem to care at all. But rather than repeat this ad nauseum, let’s be a bit more intellectual and try to figure out what happened."
Sigh. So, we have the music industry whose DRM schemes and other anti-piracy measures have thoroughly failed, and are only hindering consumers who stick to the letter of the law. Now we have Hollywood who's going to do it all over again: the AACS LA is busy killing off component video - even for existing, currently-owned equipment.
In a way, it's kind of sad. The old media squealing and squirming, trying pathetically to hold on to a time that has long been lost to the sands of... Well, time. Jeff Zucker, President and CEO of NBC, made such a pathetic attempt before a US Congress committee yesterday, claiming Boxee stole Hulu's content.
We've got news from the MPEG-LA, regarding any possible H264 license changes they might institute at the end of this year. More specifically, they've put out a press release stating that they will not change one specific aspect of the license that governs the AVC Patent Portfolio (to which h264 belongs): MPEG-LA will not collect royalties for internet video that is free to end users. The press release is highly confusing, so let's de-construct what's going on here.
I followed the hype: Reddit, Slashdot's front page, months of thumbs up on my blog and various video forums by Linux users for OpenShot. Given that I'm longing for a usable Linux video editor since 2003, and given that OpenShot version 1.0 had just been released, I naturally gave it a go, by also downloading its provided dependencies on my Ubuntu Linux 9.10.
Songbird, the open source iTunes alternative (which we reported on earlier), has landed a big deal with Philips. The Dutch electronics manufacturer will bundle Songbird with its GoGear line of .mp3 players as the music management and sync tool. While this is good news for Songbird, there are is a catch.
My favourite media centre software, Boxee, has just launched the highly-anticipated new beta version of its XBMC-based media centre, complete with a redesigned user interface. On top of that, Boxee launched its very first piece of hardware during CES, the Boxee Box, together with D-Link. It's an impressive little device.