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

Christian F.K. Schaller christian at fluendo.com
Mon Mar 26 06:58:12 PDT 2007

On Sat, 2007-03-24 at 11:31 -0700, Kevin Marks wrote:
> On 3/23/07, Christian F.K. Schaller <christian at fluendo.com> wrote:
>         On Fri, 2007-03-23 at 08:12 -0700, Kevin Calhoun wrote:
>         > On Mar 23, 2007, at 2:56 AM, Maik Merten wrote:
>         >
>         > > MPEG4 adoption to the web has been poor from my point of
>         view. Today
>         > > I'd 
>         > > guess the absolute king in marketshare is Flash video,
>         then following
>         > > Windows Media, then followed by QuickTime (that may carry
>         MPEG4... but
>         > > the container is not MPEG) and perhaps a bit of RealVideo
>         in between.
> Are you talking container or codecs here? AVI is a significant
> container format, with some variant of MPEG4 codecs in.

My point was that the MPEG4 standard, including both its codecs and its
container is not in very wide use on the net. There are some use seen of
MPEG4 codecs in both Quicktime container (as I mentioned), but also as
you mention the DVD/DVB ripping people are often using MP3 and MPEG4
part 2 their TV and DVD 'divx' rips. That said I don't really consider
the P2P people's use part of 'the web' in the context of this mailing
list as they do no or little integration of video inside webpages in the
style of Flash video, windows media player or the quicktime player. 

So to make my point 100% clear, there is very little use of MPEG4 which
is a combination of a container format and a set of audio and video
formats on the web. There is some use of some of the parts of MPEG4 seen
on the web and the Internet in general in conjunction with other
technologies like the Quicktime format and the 'DivX' communities.

>         > Just a quick correction here: QuickTime does support the
>         MPEG-4
>         > container format.
>         Yes, but that is the opposite of the stated issue. The issue
>         is that
>         the .mov files out there are actually not valid MPEG4 files.
>         Which means 
>         that with a MPEG4 compliant demuxer one would not be able to
>         demux a
>         Quicktime file. So Maik's claim still stand, MPEG4 has almost
>         no
>         adoption on the web. Apple could have solved this of course by
>         making
>         sure .mov was MPEG4 compliant, which would have been a natural
>         step
>         after pushing so hard to make the quicktime container format
>         the basis
>         for the MPEG4 container format, but I guess the temptation of
>         proprietary lock-in was to big.
> This is entirely backwards. the QT file format is not proprietary, it
> is openly documented. There is a patent issue around hint tracks that
> Apple could resolve, but other than that case (and it is a very
> marginal one, designed only to be read by streaming serves for stored
> content which is outside the scope for user agents anyway). 

If you are referring the docs provided by Apple they specifically state
that they do not grant any license for anything and that they are only
meant to be used for developing software for Apple platforms. On top of
that Apple do offer a license for the Quicktime format on their website
which do require you among other things to promise to only support the
Quicktime container format. Another weakness of MPEG4/Quicktime as a
container format is that its not very well suited to live streaming,
which I think is a relevant weakness to the usecase of this group.

> MPEG4 defines a subset of codecs and support levels. QT allows
> arbitrary codecs to be contained. So Apple could not make QT files
> MPEG4 compliant retrospectively without a time machine. 
> What Apple have done is support export to compliant MPEG4 files from
> all their editing products, and default to them in many cases
> (the .m4a files iTunes makes, the m4v ones that iMovie makes, and the
> audio with chapters and visual frames in that GarageBand makes are all
> mpeg4). All of these are played by iPods as well as clients Apple
> freely distributes for Mac and Windows (iTunes), and browser plugins,
> paying the encoding and decoding license fees. 
> This is muddied by the iTunes store DRM that IS designed to be
> proprietary and prevent interoperability, but as Steve Jobs said
> recently, this is a very small fraction of media files.
> Now, if you want a fallback standard that is genuinely widely
> interoperating without patent issues, you could pick QuickTime with
> JPEG video frames and uncompressed audio. Millions of digital cameras
> support this format already, as do all quicktime implementations back
> to 1990, as well as WMP and RealPlayer and all the open source
> players. 

Others have commented on why this would be a useless fallback so I will
refrain from answering.


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