Posts Tagged ‘Dirac’

Dirac Schrödinger 1.0.9 Released

March 9, 2010 Leave a comment

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.

It has been roughly eleven months since the last Schrödinger release, so this is indeed welcome news.

Don’t know what either Schrödinger or Dirac are? Dirac is an advanced royalty-free video compression format, initially developed by the UK’s BBC Research and Development team. To quote from the recent release announcement:

“Schrödinger is a cross-platform implementation of the Dirac video compression specification as a C library. The Dirac project maintains two encoder implementations: dirac-research, a research encoder, and Schrödinger, which is meant for user applications. As of this release, Schrödinger outperforms dirac-research in most encoding situations, both in terms of encoding speed and visual quality.”

That last sentence is really important. Previous testing by Stream0 showed that while Schrödinger was a much faster implementation than Dirac Research, the quality suffered enormously. If indeed Schrödinger has now surpassed Dirac Research in quality terms, this is exciting news.

Further information regarding enhancements in this release, and plans for a more regular release cycle, are available on the Dirac Video website.

With the increasing acceleration of HTML 5 acceptance, it’d be fantastic to see more browser support for Dirac, alongside Ogg Theora, as an alternative to the currently almost ubiquitous Flash/H.264 combination.
Categories: Codecs Tags: , ,

Interview with Magic Lantern Creator

November 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Several months ago we posted an article about the Magic Lantern firmware for the Canon 5D Mark II video DSLR. This open source software adds functionality to the 5D that Canon didn’t provide out of the box. There has been quite a lot of progress on Magic Lantern over the last few months. The latest release is version 0.1.6, but even since then further enhancements have been made, including Autoboot.

The originating creator of Magic Lantern, Trammell Hudson, recently participated in an interview available on the Cinema5d website. Here are some short excerpts from Trammell’s responses:

4. What plans do you have for the new 5d firmware update? Can we expect anything beyond 24p/25p?

You would have to ask Canon about their plans…  I’ll update my code to work with their new firmware once it is available.  It would really please me if Canon incorporated all of the features from Magic Lantern into their firmware.

On my roadmap for upcoming Magic Lantern releases:

* 1080i HDMI output (still having technical problems)

* SMPTE timecode jamming

* Scripting

* USB control from the Impero remote follow-focus

* Waveforms and vector scope

* Autoboot (now available)

5. On your Wikia Page you describe the Magic Lantern as ” an enhancement atop of Canon’s firmware that makes your 5D Mark II into the 5D Mark Free” What exactly do you mean?

Most equipment is “closed” in that what you buy is what you get. Sure, you can put it on rails, add a follow focus and mattebox, but you can’t really change what is going on inside the box.  With Magic Lantern, however, the internals of the camera have been opened up so that it is possible to add new features that the manufacturer might not have ever imagined.

Read the full text of the interview over at Cinema5d.

A potentially useful enhancement to the Magic Lantern firmware would be the ability to change the codec used in the 5D Mark II. Currently, content is stored as H.264 at around 40Mbps. While this provides for some very nice high quality footage, it’d be nice if additional open source options were included, like Lagarith and Dirac Research. The Magic Lantern Wikia Discussion page has a few comments around this idea already.

HTML 5, Codecs and the Video Tag

June 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Spending the last two days at the Open Video Conference has been a great experience, lots of interesting speakers and I’ve learned a few things. Perhaps I’ll write more in general later, however it’s worth mentioning, while still fresh in my mind, today’s sessions around royalty-free codecs and the HTML 5 <video> tag.

The main focus of the Royalty Free Codecs session seemed to be around Ogg Theora. Also present though were Sun, speaking about their new Open Media Stack, and David Schleef to represent his work on the Schroedinger Dirac library. I would have loved to hear more about what was happening with Dirac, but the crowd wanted Theora news.

A short demonstation on the projector screen showed H.263/H.264 content versus the same Ogg Theora content at various bit rates, the highest less than 500Kbps. The results, from Theora’s perspective, were very good. Visually I couldn’t pick out any differences on the large screen. I would have liked to see the demonstration done at higher, greater than 1Mbps, bitrates, though. Not the one used today, but a similar demonstration is available here.

Sun did not do themselves any favours at this Conference. A session yesterday gave them time to discuss the process they undertook to ensure there were no IP encumbrance in their new codec and Open Media Stack, but right at the end the key revelation was that they’re unable to Open Source their work.

David did not have much of a chance to talk in depth about Dirac, and I was disappointed not to have gained a better understanding the current development status, and community input velocity around Dirac. He did make a point that the BBC were using Dirac internally, which is true but only to a very small extent. In non-linear editing environments, DVCProHD, AVC-I 100 and ProRes are still the codecs of choice. In my opinion this due to the lack of tools available for Dirac work. Dirac tool development needs a great leap forward if this codec is to gain any significant traction.

The next session had representatives from all major browsers (Firefox, Webkit and Opera), except IE, present to talk about HTML 5 and the new <video> tag.

Firstly, I was particularly interested in the W3C Draft Web Fragments specification. Amongst other things, this will allow playback of just segments of video, based on a time specification in seconds. While not currently possible, if this could be extended to read an embedded timecode track and seek in a frame accurate manner, that would be truly powerful in an open standard.

With Safari on Mac, the <video> tag can be used to playback any video format for which the user has the relevant codec and QuickTime component installed. Thus we have Theora support through the XiphQT component. In the latest version of iMovie, QuickTime Pro and Final Cut Pro, users can now also choose to export or render in Ogg Theora. If only the Dirac QT component was ready.

Metavid developers also demonstrated a cute javascript library embed workaround that covered IE’s lack of support for the <video> tag. Full details are available on the Metavid website, as well as a demonstration of the code in action. Even if you’re browser doesn’t currently support the HTML 5 <video> element, this script will take care of it.

The cross fade is particularly interesting. Do we no longer need to finish clips in a non-linear editor? Can we now perform hard cuts based on an edit decision list and let the browser deal with the fading or finishing element of the job?

Hopefully there’s some exciting times ahead for open source, royalty free video codecs and ubiquity of embedded video on the Web. 

Videos from 2008

February 5, 2008 1 comment

The organisers of have done a fantastic job in making all presentations and tutorials available to watch online – in Ogg Theora format naturally. If you were disappointed to miss out on, this is the next best thing to being there.

For readers of Stream #0 the following items from the main conference may be of most interest:




For a full list of videos from the main conference presentations, go to the main presentation page on the site and the find the presentation you’re most insterested in.

In parallel to the main, there was also a Multimedia Mini-conf and the good news is, videos are available online for these presentations too!

  • Foundations of Open Media Software workshop summary [OGG]
  • Dirac Video Compression System [OGG]
  • FOSS Codecs for Online Video: Usability, Uptake and Development [OGG]
  • Lightning Talks [OGG]
  • Survivor Melanesia – Ethnomusicologist vs Annodex [OGG]
  • Adventures in Consumer Electronics with GStreamer [OGG]
  • Ingex – tapeless television production using Linux. [OGG]

A full listing from all Mini-confs is also available.

There goes the rest of your day!


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