Tag Archives: video

Streaming protocols

Last week I was doing some consulting work on Wowza Media Server for the Harvard Library, and I noticed there are some issues about streaming protocols which often aren’t well understood. To help clarify them in my own mind, and hopefully provide a useful resource for others, I’ve put a page on Basics of Streaming Protocols on my business website.

If you notice anything that’s wrong or confusing, please let me know.

The future of WebM

Yesterday I posted about the WebP still image format, expressing some skepticism about how easily it will catch on. Its companion format for video, WebM, may stand a better chance, though. Images aren’t exciting any more; JPEG delivers photographs well enough, PNG does the same for line art, and there isn’t a compelling reason to change. Video is still in flux, though, and the high bandwidth requirements mean there’s a payoff for any improvements in compression and throughput. The long-running battle among HTML5 stakeholders over video shows that it’s far from being a settled area. Patents are a big issue; if you implement H.264, you have to pay money. Alternatives are attractive from both a technological and an economic standpoint.

With Google pushing WebM and having YouTube, there’s a clear reason for browser developers to support it. YouTube plans to use the new WebM codec, VP9, once it’s complete. I haven’t seen details of the plan, but most likely YouTube will make the same video available with multiple protocols and query the browser’s capabilities to determine whether it can accept VP9. If the advantage is real and users who can get it see fewer pauses in their videos, more browser makers will undoubtedly join the bandwagon.

State of HTML5 video

Long Tail Video has an interesting page on the state of HTML5 video. Their view is filtered through their own product, but it’s still a nice job of covering current trends.

The Lib-Ray project

Just last weekend I got my first Blu-Ray disk and found that it came with a warning that if I didn’t have the latest software updates on my player, it might not play. (It did play, being far older than my player.) This annoyed me enough that I’m glad to hear of an open-source, non-DRM alternative to Blu-Ray in the works. Lib-Ray is a project to create a high-definition video standard with “no DRM,” “no region codes,” “no secrets,” and “no limits.” There’s a Kickstarter page looking for funding for the project.

According to the current specification, Lib-Ray uses the Matroska (MKV) container format.

Creating a mass market for Lib-Ray player boxes sounds like a long shot, but it’s easy enough to imagine open-source software being developed and distributed that would let any modern computer play the disks. This could be a boon to anyone who wants to distribute high-quality video discs without DRM.

Some articles on Lib-Ray:

HTML5 and video

There’s an entry on the W3C blog about the state of HTML5 video. The most significant point is that “we still don’t have a baseline video codec for HTML5.” Without that, it’s silly to talk about HTML5 as an alternative to Flash or any other kind of video presentation. Microsoft is pushing H.264, and IE9 will support only H.264 under HTML5. Mozilla is going with Ogg Theora. Both codecs have patent issues, limiting the opportunities for third parties to fill in the gap. Both have enthusiastic advocates.

The Browser Wars are back.