[whatwg] Video

Robert J Crisler rcrisler1 at unl.edu
Mon Mar 31 09:04:44 PDT 2008

I notice that HTML5's video section is incomplete and lacking.

The text under could have been written ten years ago:

"It would be helpful for interoperability if all browsers could  
support the same codecs. However, there are no known codecs that  
satisfy all the current players: we need a codec that is known to not  
require per-unit or per-distributor licensing, that is compatible with  
the open source development model, that is of sufficient quality as to  
be usable, and that is not an additional submarine patent risk for  
large companies. This is an ongoing issue and this section will be  
updated once more information is available."

The time has come for the W3C to swallow a bit of pride and cede this  
control, this area, to the Motion Picture Experts Group. While MPEG  
does not produce a codec that is free of any licensing constraints,  
the organization has produced a codec, actually several, that are  
world standards. You may have a digital cable or satellite service  
(that's MPEG-2 or MPEG-4). You may have a DVD player (MPEG-2), or a  
Blu-Ray player (MPEG-4). You may have an iPod (MPEG-4). And you may  
have heard of MP3.

The time has come for the W3C, despite misgivings, to support an ISO/ 
IEC organization that is charged with the development of video and  
audio encoding standards. We can't have a separate set of standards  
for web distribution. It simply complicates workflows and stunts any  
potential transition to the web as the dominant distribution mechanism  
for such media.

Whatever the misgivings, it's time to say that the ISO/IEC standards  
are preferable to proprietary codecs (Windows Media, Flash), and that  
MPEG-4 AVC is recommended over other codecs for video. It would be  
really great if an intrepid group of smart people were to come up with  
something technically superior to MPEG-4, make it a world standard for  
encoding audio and video, and make it available without any patent or  
royalty constraints. That has not happened, despite some strong  
efforts particularly from the OGG people, and it's time to acknowledge  
that fact and stop holding out.

Again, the W3C should cede these issues to the ISO/IEC standards  
organization set up for the purpose of defining world standards in  
video and audio compression and decompression.


Robert J Crisler
Manager, Internet and Interactive Media
UNL | University Communications
321 Canfield Administration Building
Lincoln, NE 68588-0424


For information on web development at UNL, please see the UNL Web  
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