[whatwg] <video> element proposal

Thomas Davies Thomas.Davies at bbc.co.uk
Thu Mar 22 05:28:59 PDT 2007


Having been pointed at this discussion by Christian, I thought I'd let
you know a bit more about where Dirac is as a royalty-free open source
codec. We're certainly very keen for Dirac to be considered as one of
the supported video formats.

Dirac has been in development for 4 years. In compression terms it's
about twice as efficient as MPEG2, competitive with H264 and VC-1 and
substantially more efficient than Theora. The Dirac sourceforge site
contains a full specification of the system which is very nearly
complete. A subset of this, relating to professional profiles for TV
production, has already been proposed to the SMPTE for standardisation
as VC-2. Assuming that there are no roadblocks in this process, we
intend to submit the rest of the Dirac system as VC-3 (or whatever
number they're up to) towards the end of the year. So this time next
year, there is a good chance that Dirac will be an international,
royalty-free SMPTE standard.

When we started Dirac, our intention was that the Dirac software on the
website could be developed to build a real-time system. However, it
proved difficult to make a system that could be a reference codec for
testing the specification/draft standard and which had real-time
optimisations. So in conjunction with Fluendo, we started the
Schrodinger project (http://schrodinger.sf.net) which is a real-time,
multi-platform implementation of Dirac being developed in parallel with
the Dirac software. This isn't quite finished yet, but we will have a
compliant alpha release in the next month or two. It will be alpha
because although it will do real-time encoding and decoding in software,
it won't compress all that well. The Dirac site software is being
maintained as a reference and demonstrator system. 

Our aim then is to do a beta release of Schrodinger by the autumn using
all the encoder optimisations in Dirac, so by the end of the year we
should be "there" in terms of having a really good, efficient real-time
encoder and decoder. Third parties can start designing implementations
when the spec is finalised at version 1.0 in only a couple of weeks from

We have been developing Dirac hardware as well. Hardware for the
professional applications will be on sale in a very few weeks, and we're
developing a prototype hardware HDTV encoder too.


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