Google’s Web video codec project gaining support

Thu, 05/20/2010 - 8:15am
Brian Santo

A means of supporting video on the Web backed by Google, called WebM, is accumulating backers, the most recent being video applications and services provider Ooyala and IP media specialist ViewCast.

The basic problem is that the Web was not built to host video. Adobe’s Flash has become the default codec technology for rendering video.

Not everyone is happy with Flash, however; Apple, for example, is adamantly anti-Flash, famously refusing to support it in its iPad. H.264/MPEG-4 is another option, but it’s still lightly deployed.

Google last month proposed WebM as an alternative, open-source, royalty free codec technology. The philosophy behind developing yet another codec seems to be that if it is free, easy to use and effective, that would recommend it as the default codec standard for rendering video in HTML 5, the next iteration of HTML that was designed in part to provide better support for video. HTML 5 currently defines video tags but does not specify a codec.

WebM files consist of video streams compressed with the VP8 video codec (developed by On2, which Google acquired in February) and audio streams compressed with the Vorbis audio codec. The WebM file structure is based on the Matroska container. The advantage of VP8 is that it was designed specifically to run on the Web, WebM supporters say.

The WebM proposal has already gained the backing of Mozilla, Opera and YouTube. Harmonic/Rhozet is supporting the WebM effort, as are Digital Rapids, Anystream and, interestingly enough, Adobe. Several major chip companies, including Broadcom, AMD, Texas Instruments, ARM and Nvidia, have also signed on as supporters.

Now Ooyala has added VP8 encoding to its supported codecs. Ooyala publishers can begin using the new codec immediately.

“Open and unfettered access to a high-quality codec will help accelerate the adoption of video delivered over the Web to all devices,” says Bismarck Lepe, co-founder and president of products at Ooyala. “Supporting VP8 and the WebM project is in line with our mission to make it easy for content owners and creators to deliver a targeted media experience to all consumers – independent of video device, format or codec. We are excited to be taking part in this initiative, one that will be a formative cornerstone of a more open media landscape.”

ViewCast, meanwhile, said that starting the third quarter of this year, its Niagara SCX will enable users to capture and stream video utilizing VP8. Niagara SCX software comes pre-installed on the Niagara Pro II, Niagara GoStream Surf and Niagara 7500 streaming media appliances.

More Broadband Direct 5/20/10:
•  CED Blog: Say goodbye to Cableland
•  Comcast retools guide for SA boxes
•  Comcast Media Center, thePlatform help track TV Everywhere
•  Comcast's Calif. region offers on-demand tools for SMBs
•  Google's Web video codec project gaining support
•  Google teams with Sony, Intel on 'smart' Web TV
•  Report: Most video to be delivered via IP by 2010
•  Broadband Briefs for 05/20/10



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