Sunday, July 19, 2009

Open Video, Ogg Theora and Critical Mass

A confluence of forces are pushing to the forefront an open, non-proprietary video standard. The critical mass has started emerging at the time of the OpenVideo Conference in NYC last month. The players:
- HTML5 and the new "video" tag, which makes it easier to embed video in a web page.
- Firefox 3.5 includes built-in support for the Ogg container, the Theora video codec and Vorbis audio codec, all of which are open source. No additional plug-ins are required to watch videos in these formats.
- Wikipedia will soon allow uploads of popular video file formats for server-side encoding to Ogg Theora, and will release a new player.
- Content owners such as Al Jazeera, Internet Archives and Metavid making hundreds of thousands of videos available in the Ogg Theora format.
- A new plug-in for Firefox 3.5, Firefogg, that allows encoding to Ogg Theora.
The above from and ReadWriteWeb
More on Ogg Theora from the CEO of, which currently delivers most video as MPEG4 and Flash:

The main problem with the Theora codec is that it's not currently as efficient as the more evolved h.264 and VC-1 codecs. Efficiency results in higher quality at lower bit rates. There are efforts currently underway to improve the codec's efficiency, these are still in the alpha stage.

The codec is not included with the standard Apple QuickTime/MPEG4, Adobe Flash, Microsoft Windows Media/Silverlight installations, another obstacle. YouTube, owned by Google, does not consider Ogg Theora currently good enough to replace its h.264 codec, wrapped in both Flash for web viewing and MPEG4 for downloading. Hopefully, when Ogg Theora is mature enough, some of the big corporate players will jump on the bandwagon. However, other big players have already decided that it is "good enough!"

It's nice to see an open video standard finally arise on the web, competition can only be good for most of us.

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