[whatwg] Codecs (was Re: Apple Proposal for Timed Media Elements)

Thomas Vander Stichele thomas at apestaart.org
Fri Mar 23 05:28:35 PDT 2007


> Even interoperability at the API and markup level would be a huge  
> step forward relative to the current state of web video. While also  
> having a single universally implemented codec would also be good,  
> that may not presently be feasible.

A huge step that does not go all the way is not enough in this case.  If
the end result is still "you are not sure if a user has this codec" then
a web site designer will not care about the fact that the API is the
same, and the user will still not have guaranteed working video.

> > Regarding the specific issue of mobile devices this is a highly  
> > speculative argument.
> > There is nothing stopping Theora chips from being produced and  
> > since many
> > 'hardware decoders' are actually programmable DSP's this is even  
> > less of an
> > real argument.
> This is true of hardware audio decoders, but not hardware video  
> decoders, which use dedicated circuit blocks. If Ogg suddenly became  
> popular it would likely be a several year pipeline before there were  
> any hardware decoders.

There are cameras with embedded Ogg/Theora encoding that I've actually
seen and work.  I would be surprised if there are no Theora hardware
decoders, but I'm not in that business so I haven't seen any.  The BBC
is working on Dirac, a codec that is not even stable yet, and they are
planning to have a hardware encoder/decoder within the year.  "Several
year pipeline" sounds over-pessimistic.

> > Case in point: my Nokia N800 certainly does not play H264.  The  
> > Flash videos that it
> > can play are not played using hardware decoder support.  I don't  
> > know many
> > hardware players that actually play H264 - I'm guessing the iPod  
> > video is one of the
> > few, and that player does not support web browsing.
> Most Flash video uses on the Sorenson Spark codec which is based on H. 
> 263. This is a much less processor-intensive codec than more modern  
> options, but also gives worse compression. H.264 has been approved as  
> one of the codecs for 3GPP

H263 is "mandatory" for 3GPP, H264 is only "suggested", and having dealt
with several phones for streaming I can tell you that not all phones
support H264.

Phones only support a select few widths and heights anyway, so I doubt
phones are relevant to this discussion at the moment.

> > I am sure that if everyone else starts supporting Theora and Vorbis  
> > then Apple will quickly
> > start feeling comfortable, it's the way the market works.
> Apple doesn't currently support WMV, despite it being a popular  
> format for video on the web, so I'm not sure that follows.

Me neither.  But that argument sounds a lot like "Apple will only
support a codec that it already supports."  If Apple is unwilling to
budge from that, then we're not discussing about inter-operating :)


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