A little over one month since the release candidate was made available, FFMBC has officially rolled our version 0.4. Lots of useful and interesting updates for our favourite open source video transcoding tool:
As could probably be predicted, there’s been a lot more press around WebM over the last ten days or so. A few articles are worth noting.
As we were on holiday last week, in the chilly snows of Austria, we almost missed an important announcement regarding the Schrödinger implementation of the Dirac codec.
Just days after I first wrote about FFmbc (FFMedia Broadcast) the team have released a new version, marked as 0.3.
- Sync on FFmpeg svn r20539.
- Write Quicktime timecode track.
- Set closed gop flag for first gop when encoding with b frames.
- Search relative path when opening Quicktime reference files.
FFmbc (FFMedia Broadcast) is an off-shoot of the FFmpeg project that is targeted squarely at the broadcast media world. The project while still in its infancy, but available for around 6 months already, is currently at release version 0.2. Launched and managed by Baptiste Coudurier, well known for his work on the FFmpeg project, FFmbc rolls out the following enhancements:
• Creating XDCAM HD422 files in .mov or .mxf
• Creating XDCAM IMX/D-10 files in .mov or .mxf
• Creating AVID DNxHD files in .mov
• ID3v2 complete support.
• Itunes complete support.
in effect from November 1st 2009.
There’s a great article called How Firefox Is Pushing Open Video Onto the Web by Micheal Calore over at WebMonkey, dealing with the HTML 5 <video> tag and Firefox’s native Ogg Theora support. The piece outlines the technical details of the <video> tag and includes an interview with Mozilla director of Firefox Mike Beltzner and Mozilla director of platform engineering Damon Sicore.
An excerpt from the interview:
Webmonkey: How do you see these factors — the HTML
5 video tag, putting the Ogg codecs right into the browser,
presentation techniques that mimic the plug-in player experience –
affecting video on the web? What’s it going to change in six months? Or
Beltzner: In six months, you’re going to see more
sites like DailyMotion doing things where they detect that the browser
supports Ogg and the video tag, and in that case, they’re going to give
those users an Ogg-and-video-tag-experience.
I think you’ll see content sites doing this because they’ll have the
ability to re-encode their entire video libraries without having to pay
any licensing fees. The Ogg Theora encoders are completely license-free
and patent-proof. They don’t need to worry about which player you’ve
got. They also don’t need to worry about which hardware you’ve got. Ogg
Theora will run on Windows, Mac and Linux, or any embedded device or
mobile device built on the Linux platform.
Here’s a beta example page from DailyMotion demonstrating use of the HTML 5 <video> tag. If you have Firefox 3.5 installed, or a reasonably new version of Webkit/Safari and the XiphQT component install, you should have in browser video playback – Ogg Theora and no Flash player needed.
YouTube’s demonstration page here.
Red Devil’s Tech Blog has a good article reviewing how four different major Linux distributions deal with making video and audio codecs available.
Fedora, Mandriva, PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu are all covered, with Vector Linux getting a brief tongue in cheek mention at the end.
It seems that Fedora is moving away from their strictly no non-free software approach, to one encouraging end users to install Fluendo’s commercial codecs, of which new versions have just been released. Mandriva is doing something similar with their paid for 2008 Power Pack.
Personally, I applaud this approach. While I wholeheartedly support free and open source software, I also don’t mind the concept of paying a small amount for something essential, like video and audio codecs. If this is what it takes, to avoid even the sniff of legal problems for a Linux distribution, I’m fine with it.
Tip of the iceberg you say? I can understand that response too. What I don’t see at this time is a valid alternative, besides installing, what is in some jurisdictions, legally questionable software.
I’d be much more concerned about Sun purchasing MySQL and Novell/SUSE cosying up to Microsoft, than paying £20 for some very useful codecs. Perhaps an organisation like Fluendo deserves support, just to keep yourself personally in the clear.
I wonder why Ubuntu doesn’t follow this lead.
Ultimately though, I think the decision has to be up to the end user. Linux is about choice. And I’m quite the hypocrite anyway, not about to purchase Fluendo’s codecs. All the decoding functionality I need is done with libavcodec, which is a core dependency for FFmpeg.
Although not yet noted on the Fluendo News page, customers who have previously purchased codec packs from Fluendo are receiving an email regarding updates.
In summary, here’s a list of the codecs offered by Fluendo in the Complete Set Pack:
Windows Media Audio Decoder (Windows Media 7, 8, 9, 10, Pro, Lossless and Speech)
Windows Media Video Decoder (Windows Media 7, 8, 9 and VC1)
Windows Media ASF Demuxer
Windows Media MMS Networking
MPEG2 Video Decoder
MPEG4 Part 2 (DivX) Video Decoder
H.264/AVC Video Decoder (32 bits only)
MPEG2 Program Stream and Transport Stream demuxer
MPEG4 ISO Demuxer
MP3 Audio Decoder
AC3 Audio Decoder
AAC Audio Decoder (32 bits only)
Below is the text of the email being received. It looks like some good optimisation work has been completed on the Windows Media and MPEG2 decoders:
You are receiving this mail to inform you that the Fluendo product you bought has been updated…
Here are the details on updated products :
- Windows Media Video now supports Windows Media 7 and 8 on top of
previously supported formats Windows Media Video 9 and VC1.
Additionally this codec has received a lot of optimization love which
makes it possible to play big HD clips on smaller hardware. Products
including that codec : Complete set of playback plugins, Windows Media
playback bundle, Windows Media Video.
- Windows Media Audio now supports Windows Media 10 and Windows Media
Speech on top of previously supported formats Windows Media 7, 8, 9,
Pro and Lossless. This codec has been optimized and consumes almost
50% less CPU. Products including that codec : Complete set of playback
plugins, Windows Media playback bundle, Windows Media Audio.
- MPEG2 Video decoder has been optimized to reach similar performances
than other competing decoders. Products including that codec :
Complete set of playback plugins, MPEG playback bundle, MPEG2 Video
- H.264/AVC and AAC have been added to the 32 bits Complete set of
playback plugins -64 bits should arrive in Q2 2008. You can now play
your AAC songs or watch QuickTime movies using a highly optimized set
of decoders for those formats. Products including that codec :
Complete set of playback plugins.
- MMS network source has been thoroughly tested with a lot of Internet
streams. Lot of improvements were done to support as much streams as
possible. Products including that network source : Complete set of
playback plugins, Windows Media playback bundle, Windows Media MMS.
Fluendo’s team wishes you a happy new year for 2008.
Best regards, Fluendo Support Team , FLUENDO S.A.
So, perhaps consider purchasing your video and audio codecs from an Open Source company, rather than installing w32codecs or Gstreamer Bad and Ugly.