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Thread: What's the angle here?

  1. #1
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    Question What's the angle here?

    I just read a couple of articles on YouTube choosing h.264 over OGG Theora for their HTML 5 experiment.

    This is one of them:
    http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/07/06...ideo-standard/

    The experiment uses the embedded video tag in HTML5 so videos can be watched without the need to install extensions like FLASH or Silver-light, provided your browser support H.264.

    But the problem is that H.264 is patented, and requires a license.
    Some argue that H.264 is superior to OGG Theora, but this test shows the opposite.

    From what I can find OGG Theora is less CPU intensive, making it better for smart-phones/books and netbooks, and more powerfull computers eat a little less battery/power.
    OGG Theora offer better image quality on low bitrates, making it better for mobile devices with limited bandwidth. On higher bitrates the difference is indiscernible.
    OGG Theora is completely free, H.264 is patented and owned by MPEG-LA.

    http://people.xiph.org/~greg/video/y...omparison.html

    Apple is against OGG Theora becomming standard for HTML5.
    The Google/YouTube move is a strong push for H.264 and against OGG Theora.
    Microsoft has licensed H.264 for Win7, so they probably support it too.

    It seems only Mozilla is left supporting OGG Theora, guaranteeing that everybody can use video on any site, without some patent owner controlling it and requiring (steep) license fees.

    So why is Google pushing H.264?
    One paranoid theory is that it would make it harder for others to compete with YouTube.

    Why pay for something when we can have a better alternative for free?
    Can we influence W3C so they choose OGG Theora?
    Last edited by BuffaloX; January 26th, 2010 at 03:41 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Re: What's the angle here?

    The way I think of this issue is I compare it to the Citizens United v. FEC supreme court ruling in the US which just passed recently. All of the progress in law-making that was done over the past several decades concerning the subject was completely lost at a whim.

    Progress that was made over the last few years concerning open formats/protocols seems like is going to be lost at a whim (at least concerning online video formats), due to the power of the few wealthy parties who can do as they please.

    Then again, as long as they provide ogg theora as an alternative format for the video tag, then at least it won't be so bad.
    Last edited by user1397; January 26th, 2010 at 04:56 AM.

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    Re: What's the angle here?

    H.264 might be better at supporting DRM or encoding, it might be why google has pick H.264 over OGG. Youtube wants to make money and using a standard that movie and TV companies like might help their bottom line.

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    Re: What's the angle here?

    Well, the paranoid theory is that it forces Firefox users to move to Chrome. They're leaving the possibility of support Theora open though.

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    Re: What's the angle here?

    point 0:Open web standards out-weigh any technical advantage h.254 may or may not have.

    h.264 is what apple will back because the iPhone has a hw decoder, and google may support it for similar reasons, but at the end of the day see point 0 as it trumps everything. If websites go with theora, there are hw decoders for theora and software implemetations are less CPU intensive so an option on most devices.

    Quote Originally Posted by LowSky View Post
    H.264 might be better at supporting DRM or encoding, it might be why google has pick H.264 over OGG. Youtube wants to make money and using a standard that movie and TV companies like might help their bottom line.
    flash videos are already h.264 encoded, youtube switched to h.264 because it was easy

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    Re: What's the angle here?

    Quote Originally Posted by JDShu View Post
    Well, the paranoid theory is that it forces Firefox users to move to Chrome. They're leaving the possibility of support Theora open though.
    I agree this could unfortunately be a huge problem for Firefox.

    AFAIK Chrome already supports OGG Theora, and for You Tube they have explicitly said no way we can convert billions of movies.
    So I'm not quite sure what you mean.

    Seems there is something called X.264 which is compatible with H.264, but I'm not sure if it's legal...

    Apple says Firefox users can just install QuickTime?
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    Exclamation Re: What's the angle here?

    Quote Originally Posted by BuffaloX View Post
    I just read a couple of articles on YouTube choosing h.264 over OGG Theora for their HTML 5 experiment.

    So why is Google pushing H.264?
    Google is not really "pushing H.264", nor did they "choose" H.264 over Theora.

    In my opinion, I think that the fact that Google only enabled H.264 HTML5 video on youtube has more to do with the fact that all their videos were already encoded in that format (at at least 3 different resolutions. Therefore, it was relatively easy to just turn on the switch for beta HTML5 embedding. Back in 2007, prior to the iPhone's launch, all Youtube videos were in FLV. It then took MONTHS to convert all of these videos to h.264 MP4s. Youtube had way less videos than it has now. And it had no 720p or 1080p HD videos yet.

    Transcoding all those videos to Ogg Theora (with multiple copies for SD, HQ and HD) would require a major computing effort (convert 320p, 480p, 720p and 1080p MP4s) and storage space increase : that'd double the whole website's data storage, which is already one of the biggest of the world.

    I think we can all agree that, sadly, it just isn’t worth it at this point. HTML5's video tag specification is far from being finalized and Theora's popularity is just not there yet.

    Also, Apple should be blamed for being the only browser vendor refusing to feature Theora support for its tag support. That, IMHO is the biggest obstacle in the road to ogg theora adoption.

    To conclude, i think it's hard to blame Youtube for not (yet?) supporting Theora, and that even if it's through a proprietary codec, turning on HTML5 video support is still a positive thing: a proprietary video codec without flash is better than a proprietary codec through Flash.

    edit: one more thing:
    Quote Originally Posted by BuffaloX View Post
    I agree this could unfortunately be a huge problem for Firefox.
    Much worse. It's a problem for the free and open Web.

    Quote Originally Posted by BuffaloX View Post
    Seems there is something called X.264 which is compatible with H.264, but I'm not sure if it's legal...
    X.264 is an encoder, not a decoder(player).
    Last edited by Nephersir7; January 26th, 2010 at 05:56 AM. Reason: for the sake of avoiding a double post

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    Re: What's the angle here?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xbehave View Post
    point 0:Open web standards out-weigh any technical advantage h.254 may or may not have.

    h.264 is what apple will back because the iPhone has a hw decoder, and google may support it for similar reasons, but at the end of the day see point 0 as it trumps everything. If websites go with theora, there are hw decoders for theora and software implemetations are less CPU intensive so an option on most devices.


    flash videos are already h.264 encoded, youtube switched to h.264 because it was easy
    Yes we want open standards.

    HW decoder could have been made even easier for OGG Theora, why did they choose not to?
    In theory H.264 should be superior, but actual results does not seem to support that.
    Yes FLASH supports it, but part of the point of HTML5 was to get away from proprietary standards such as FLASH, wasn't it?

    Just checked Wiki it says Patent is valid till 2028.
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    Re: What's the angle here?

    Quote Originally Posted by BuffaloX View Post
    Yes we want open standards.
    HW decoder could have been made even easier for OGG Theora, why did they choose not to?
    Even if there were hardware-accelerated OGG theora decoding, Youtube will always need to have H.264 support: it's here to stay, notably for legacy suport. That doesn't exclude upcoming Theora support, but at best, it'll support both.

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    Re: What's the angle here?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephersir7 View Post
    Google is not really "pushing H.264", nor did they "choose" H.264 over Theora.

    In my opinion, I think that the fact that Google only enabled H.264 HTML5 video on youtube has more to do with the fact that all their videos were already encoded in that format (at at least 3 different resolutions. Therefore, it was relatively easy to just turn on the switch for beta HTML5 embedding. Back in 2007, prior to the iPhone's launch, all Youtube videos were in FLV. It then took MONTHS to convert all of these videos to h.264 MP4s. Youtube had way less videos than it has now. And it had no 720p or 1080p HD videos yet.

    Transcoding all those videos to Ogg Theora (with multiple copies for SD, HQ and HD) would require a major computing effort (convert 320p, 480p, 720p and 1080p MP4s) and storage space increase : that'd double the whole website's data storage, which is already one of the biggest of the world.

    I think we can all agree that, sadly, it just isn’t worth it at this point. HTML5's video tag specification is far from being finalized and Theora's popularity is just not there yet.

    Also, Apple should be blamed for being the only browser vendor refusing to feature Theora support for its tag support. That, IMHO is the biggest obstacle in the road to ogg theora adoption.

    To conclude, i think it's hard to blame Youtube for not (yet?) supporting Theora, and that even if it's through a proprietary codec, turning on HTML5 video support is still a positive thing: a proprietary video codec without flash is better than a proprietary codec through Flash.

    edit: one more thing:

    Much worse. It's a problem for the free and open Web.


    X.264 is an encoder, not a decoder(player).
    Oh yes they are pushing it, by making it available as HTML5 before a standard has been determined.

    When YouTube chose to encode everything with H.264, they chose it, didn't they.
    Usually encoders have more legal trouble than decoders, H.264 may be different. But we need both encoder and decoder to have a working ecosystem on the internet IMO. There are lots of players that can play back H.264, both VLC and mplayer can do it.
    Anyways free options are available, but are they legal particularly for USA?
    http://www.buffalox.dk
    Warning may contain MS bashing.

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