WebM (Google’s open video codec VP8) is here!

May 19, 2010

Maybe we now can make all of this about fair competition that serves the consumers/users/artists/filmmakers instead of a few wealthy companies/institutions…?

WebM an open media project (www.webmproject.org)

Introducing WebM, an open web media project (webmproject.blogspot.com)

“The WebM project is dedicated to developing a high-quality, open video format for the web that is freely available to everyone.”

(Update 1)

An introduction to the WebM project:

Google Frees VP8 Codec for HTML5: the WebM project (openvideoalliance.org)

The WebM Project : about : WebM Supporters (www.webmproject.org)

(Update 2)

The announcement/discussion on the web:

BREAKING: Google Opens VP8 Codec, Enables it on YouTube (www.osnews.com)

Microsoft: Internet Explorer 9 To Support VP8 (www.osnews.com)

Google, Mozilla, And Opera Take On H.264 With The WebM Project, A New Royalty-Free Video Codec (techcrunch.com)

Google tries freeing Web video with WebM (news.cnet.com)

Microsoft planning to support VP8 in Internet Explorer 9 – with a catch (www.neowin.net)

Google launches open WebM web video format based on VP8 (update: hardware partners and Microsoft statement) (www.engadget.com)

Theora Founder: WebM Project is ‘Wonderful’ (newteevee.com)

The first in-depth technical analysis of VP8 (x264dev.multimedia.cx) – [Wikitech-l] VP8 freed!(lists.wikimedia.org)

Software and Hardware Companies Jump on Google’s WebM Train (mashable.com)

Google launches open WebM web video format based on VP8 (update: hardware partners and Microsoft statement)


H.264 List of Shame: all the patent holders

May 18, 2010

The following organizations hold one or more patents in the H.264/AVC patent pool:

(Source: Wikipedia MPEG LA)

Apple Inc.
DAEWOO
Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation
Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute
France Télécom, société anonyme
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.
Fujitsu Limited
Hitachi, Ltd.
Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.
LG Electronics Inc.
Microsoft Corporation
Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
NTT docomo
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation
Panasonic Corporation
Robert Bosch GmbH GmbH
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
Scientific-Atlanta Vancouver Company
Sedna Patent Services, LLC
Sharp Corporation
Siemens AG
Sony Corporation
Ericsson
The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York
Toshiba Corporation
Victor Company of Japan, Limited

Further reading

Why Our Civilization’s Video Art and Culture is Threatened by the MPEG-LA

No, you can’t do that with H.264


Is H.264 a legal minefield for video pros?

Why this list…?

It’s a reminder for myself when it comes to spending money or investing in equipement. And yes, I like to share this list with everyone who cares about free artistic expression and who thinks that the moving image is too important and precious and should not be controlled by anyone and surely not by corporations or patent pools. (Software) patents are the cancer of this economy: they encourage greed, create monopolies, discourage innovation and as we are now seeing with the H.264 licensing fiasco they can seriously harm your video business, specially smaller ones.


H.264 may You find the grace to give me my daily fix of decoding today

May 10, 2010

Hail to our new Overlord,

The One and only,

Owner of all legal moving pictures compression algorithms of this world,

Great conqueror of Theora, Dirac and all the other “open source” algorithms,

Master of all moving pictures distribution channels that legally exist:

May You find the grace to give me my daily fix of de/en-coding today.

Hail to MPEG LA!

Hail! Hail! Hail!


H.264 and The Tunnel of Babel

May 5, 2010

It’s (almost) free, use it…!!! *)

Every time I read a longer document or blog entry about H.264 licensing (www.engadget.com) my head starts spinning, every article that tries to explain H.264 gets complicated when it comes to the dreaded fine print of what you may or not may do…

And that’s the point, you see!

It’s the same trick as used on your average (mobile) phone/flat rate ad in the streets:

“It’s (almost) free to use, anywhere, anytime. Try it…!!! *)”

*) The fine print: It may cost you dearly.

The MPEG LA says they are “The Standard for Standards”. (How exclusive, almost noble that sounds…!) And to achieve that they have dug both very deep and wide and built something…

At least that’s how I think I dreamed it last night…

The Tunnel Of Babel

Here I was. A dark entrance. There was a sign but I did not have to read it, I knew that this was the entrance to

The Tunnel Of Babel

I hesitated. While being a film maker and looking for a good moving pictures (post) production infrastructure I knew what the deal was… By entering The Tunnel Of Babel you accept a set of rules:

1) Every motion pictures compression algorithm belongs to the Authorities Of The Tunnel Of Babel

2) No other motion pictures compression algorithm may exist outside The Tunnel Of Babel

3) Every time you use one of The Tunnel Of Babel’s Almighty Algorithms (known as TBAAs or ToBAAs), in particular the TBAA know as i.OU (sometimes also spelled i.Ou) you may – or may not – need to pay licensing fees. But no need to worry…! The Authorities Of The Tunnel Of Babel will let you know the moment your fees are due.

4) *New!* For distribution via the Intertubes there is now a special offer: for non-commercial use it’s free!!! *)

*) At least until 2015…!

Before I could decide not to enter The Tunnel Of Babel I woke up and realised that this was only a bad dream…

But then I looked around and saw my new Samsung WB1000 camera next to my bed and started thinking about that footage that I shot in the last couple of weeks, the footage that I now possibly can’t use commercially because it’s H.264 tainted (= possible licensing fees down the road) from the moment I pressed that record button.

Looking at the headlines on news.bbc.co.uk I was reminded of the financial situation in Europe…

What if one day I wake up living in a country that is (no more) an EU member and respects software patents…? Update 21.05.10: The EU is still standing, but software patents may be on the way to Germany

And thinking of my camera:

Could I shoot footage with that camera in a country that respects software patents and still 100% own my H.264 footage…?

Could I use H.264 recorded footage coming from a country that respects software patents…?

What about selling my footage to a country that respects software patents…?

Could I sell my camera on eBay to an American an s/he use it commercially…?! (Or is this where ACTA might come in one day, restrictions like the region code system on DVDs but for all sorts of goods…?!)

What about transcoding to an open format for editing? Where is the free, worldwide legal to use de-coder from the MPEG LA for H.264 to PNG etc. for H.264 camera owners in order to legally escape the lock-in…? Should that not be mandatory, an open-source app for all operating systems, available as a download from the MPEG LA’s site…?!

I realised I was daydreaming already and quickly got up.

And while drinking my coffee I started thinking about all the options I now still have when it comes filmmaking and staying 100% independent.


Steve Jobs, MS, MPEG LA: keep H.264, I’ll use VP8…

May 1, 2010

…since H.264 is patent encumbered. I’ll never use H.264 again and will re-encode all my online videos with VP8 (once open-sourced and usable).

Steve Jobs (quoted from Open Letter to Steve Jobs): “All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now.”

And as it seems there is “a patent for everything”: MPEG LA

Good analysis: Jobs: Patent Pool Being Assembled To Go After Theora

Very interesting read, from the Theora mailing list: Mutually assured minefields

This is not only about video codecs, this is about the future of (free) video/moving images distribution (including post production) across a variety of devices and services. And it’s about (corporate) control over media content (via licensing fees, that you need to be able to afford, as e.g. big media always would…).


openArtist “4th incarnation” out now, includes my video post .blend presets!

December 6, 2009

openArtist, the artist friendly multimedia Linux distro, based on the latest Ubuntu KarmicKoala, is out now and you can find my own Blender presets for video editing and making titles included in this latest release (see the “Vid” menu)!

Help and documentation are central to the openArtist user experience, in short (from the website):

The applications are not only installed: They are configured

And very important for me: openArtist comes without PulseAudio installed…! This finally allows me to upgrade to a more recent Ubuntu-like Linux version (I am currently still using 8.04 with PulseAudio disabled, see here for how-to do this in Hardy.)

PulseAudio/its implementation in Ubuntu have been extremely frustrating for me and I am glad that with openArtist there is now an up to date solution for those who like the general idea of Ubuntu but need to have things configured and documented in a more user friendly way!

Also very interesting: there is “massive blender focus” in openArtist (see openArtist website/documentation: features > blender).

For a full list of included 2D, 3D, Audio, Video, VJ etc. software have a look at the openArtist website.

Note that currently there is no 64-bit version of openArtist and that it is bound to one user (“tux”). Make sure to read the readme before/after installation files on the desktop!

Download (directly):

MKL Graz
openMaterials
groundhog media

Or download the torrent


Issue 21 of BlenderArt Magazine with “Editing a Music Video in Blender” and video post presets

May 5, 2009

blenderart_mag_21Issue 21 of BlenderArt Magazine is just out and there you can find “Editing a Music Video in Blender”, a slightly modified version of my previous blog post from earlier this year (“Editing with Blender, Ubuntu…”). If you’ve read the article in BlenderArt Magazine and e.g. want to have a closer look at the node setup see the blog version of the article and click the screenshots to see the details.

What I’m really glad about is that my “Video Editing Preset” and “2D Titles Presets” .blends tutorials also get distributed with this edition of BlenderArt Magazine – if anyone ever needs them and/or can’t download them via my tutorial page simply also see the .blends that get distributed with Issue 21 of BlenderArt Magazine (“Editing a music video” > “video post blends presets from article.zip”)!


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