HTML5 codec problems

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
Disappointingly, the effort to create a standard open source video codec that plays in the browser is being made difficult by the browser makers themselves.







Apple refuses to implement Ogg Theora in Quicktime by default (as used by Safari), citing lack of hardware support and an uncertain patent landscape.



Google has implemented H.264 and Ogg Theora in Chrome, but cannot provide the H.264 codec license to third-party distributors of Chromium, and have indicated a belief that Ogg Theora's quality-per-bit is not yet suitable for the volume handled by YouTube.



Opera refuses to implement H.264, citing the obscene cost of the relevant patent licenses.



Mozilla refuses to implement H.264, as they would not be able to obtain a license that covers their downstream distributors.



Microsoft has not commented on their intent to support <video> at all.










Apple has always supported H.264 and has never wanted to support OGG. H.264 has a great deal more momentum as the largest video services support the codec. H.264 has the largest support among portable media devices. All major media software players support H.264.



The strength of OGG Theroa is the fact that it is supported by Firefox, Opera, and Chrome. Firefox being the only browser that has a chance of meeting IE in market share. No major web video services support OGG. Few portable media devices support OGG. None of the major software players support OGG. Browser support is not enough to over come these major deficiencies.



The wisest choice is for all browsers to agree on H.264. Which already has the majority of support and industry momentum. It appears Mozilla and Opera philosophically don't believe in paying for the H.264 licensing fees. This only undermines the movement for non-proprietary and ubiquitous media playback on all broswers.



Of course Microsoft and Adobe are pleased about this situation as they want to push Silverlight and Flash. In all likelihood H.264 will end up being the winner as OGG has no major support. Mozilla and Opera's refusal to support H.264 will likely only end up being an effort to delay the inevitable and keep media playback divided for an unnecessarily extra length of time.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 6
    erunnoerunno Posts: 225member
    To anybody interested in this topic I recommend this thread on the whatwg mailing list. It offers a lot interesting background information and discussions about the pro and cons of each possible decision and should be a required reading before commenting on this thread to avoid any baseless assumptions.
  • Reply 2 of 6
    karl kuehnkarl kuehn Posts: 756member
    I think that a better reading requirement would be this later post that responds to peoples responses to that post. The upshot of it all is that different groups have legitimate arguments about why they will not or can not support one or the other of the candidates, and so the html 5 standard maker has decided to leave this part of the standard blank (until some later date when there is a good candidate that everyone can use).



    The summarization:



    1. There are two candidates for the "required codec(s)": (MPEG 4) H.264 and OGG Theroa



    2. H.264 has licensing requirements that are easy for large organizations like Apple or Microsoft (or even Mozilla.org), but smaller bodies like Opera would not be able to compete in this, and it would be impossible for people to build their own version of open-source software with that license (so self-compiled versions of Firefox would not include this... not workable for Firefox developers).



    3. OGG Theroa quality is just not at the same level as H.264, so the really large online video vendors (YouTube) will not use it, thus making it pointless



    4. While the makers of OGG Theroa do not charge any royalties, they also provide no patent coverage meaning that if large vendors (like Apple or Microsoft) start including it in their products someone will come out of the woodwork to sue them for patent infringement (this is virtually assured). Even if the suit is meaningless, it will still cost a lot of money to defend.



    This all looks like the people involved are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and are legitimately left with no other choice.
  • Reply 3 of 6
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,300member
    There are no OGG accelerated GPGPUs to leverage it on the market.
  • Reply 4 of 6
    erunnoerunno Posts: 225member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Karl Kuehn View Post


    3. OGG Theroa quality is just not at the same level as H.264, so the really large online video vendors (YouTube) will not use it, thus making it pointless.



    This is exactly why I recommended reading the *complete* thread as this very claim has been disputed. Mozilla has invested into improving the Theora encoders and the quality-per-byte is allegedly better for sizes as YouTube uses. [1]



    Also other aspects like hardware support is discussed. I can only repeat that the thread contains a whole lot of useful information and viewpoints by the different stakeholders, many deviating from Hick's opinion.



    [1] http://www.0xdeadbeef.com/weblog/?p=1300
  • Reply 5 of 6
    karl kuehnkarl kuehn Posts: 756member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Erunno View Post


    This is exactly why I recommended reading the *complete* thread as this very claim has been disputed. Mozilla has invested into improving the Theora encoders and the quality-per-byte is allegedly better for sizes as YouTube uses. [1]



    Except if you look at the chart that is referenced you will notice that even on that one test (the only one that that developer is looking at) that the x264 codec always beats Theora, regardless of bitrate. And when that chard first came out three was a lot of chatter about it, and it came out that of the H.264 codecs that the x264 codec was the worst implementation with regards to this particular test. (which is a synthetic test, rather than a human-perception test, useful durring some phases of development, but not actually real data).



    And then you have to throw into the mix that this is on a future version of Theora. The 1.0 release of Theora (the current release) is a good ways off the performance of even the x264 encoder. As much as it would be nice if Theora was competitive, at this point is it not competitive with commercial H.264 encoders.
  • Reply 6 of 6
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Karl Kuehn View Post


    H.264 has licensing requirements that are easy for large organizations like Apple or Microsoft (or even Mozilla.org), but smaller bodies like Opera would not be able to compete in this, and it would be impossible for people to build their own version of open-source software with that license (so self-compiled versions of Firefox would not include this... not workable for Firefox developers).



    Yes this is true. The Joint Video Team needs to amend the licensing terms to make it easier for all browsers to use the codec.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Erunno View Post


    This is exactly why I recommended reading the *complete* thread as this very claim has been disputed. Mozilla has invested into improving the Theora encoders and the quality-per-byte is allegedly better for sizes as YouTube uses.



    Also other aspects like hardware support is discussed. I can only repeat that the thread contains a whole lot of useful information and viewpoints by the different stakeholders, many deviating from Hick's opinion.



    The lower quality and patent issues are serious hinderance for the adoption of OGG Theora. An even larger problem for OGG is how entrenched and widely adopted H.264 has become.



    Nearly a billion hand held devices are sold every year that support H.264. The codec is becoming widely adopted in video acquisition. Within the professional video world H.264 is becoming a frequently used as an intermediate codec. It would take OGG Theora years to equal this type of adoption. Its unlikely OGG ever will.
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