Whilst many groups have a commitment to making their Content Management Systems and documentation freely available, most employ or promote proprietary video codecs such as Flash, Quicktime and Windows Media amongst others. These formats are often entangled in a range of patents and copyrights that limit their use and future development.
EngageMedia has just released of a new report into Free and Open Source Software video codecs. It is a review of available tools for the creation, playback and embedding of online video using FOSS codecs, and a look at the most pressing areas for development to enhance their adoption by social change video projects on the web.
FOSS Codecs for Online Video: Usability, Uptake and Development
A review of available tools for the creation, playback and embedding of
online video using Free and Open Source Software video codecs and a
look at the most pressing areas for development to enhance their
adoption by social change video projects on the web.
Or via this Tiny Url:
A version in PDF is also available for reading offline here:
Summary of Recommendations
For those of you who wish to skip to the good part, there is a Summary
of Recommendations with links to further information and alternatives
within the report.
Feedback and Input
There is a page on the wiki here for your
Please forward this report to any individuals/groups who might be
interested in order to continue to promote the use and further
development of FOSS video codecs and associated software. The report is
released under the GNU Free Documentation License 1.2/
Support and Network
This report was written for the Transmission network of social justice online video projects, with support from the Open Society Institute.
Jaromil and Eleonora wrote a research about video streaming, commissioned by dutch media institute Montevideo.
It has not been published yet on the net, but Jaromil brought it, and it's licensed under GNU Free Documentation License.
jaromil explains that copy protection is a bad idea, and also a waste of time.
talking about streaming, there are two ways: on-demand and 'programmed' (live).
For programmed streaming, you can use Darwin Streaming Server (with MPEG4IP as encoder), or Icecast2 (using FFMPEG as encoder).
The research also talks about codecs, focussing on open-source codecs, and takes into account licensing/patenting issues. There are 2 open source codecs that are not discussed: Dirac (BBC) and Snow (ffmpeg related) because they're not ready.
The research is about Wide Area Network streaming, so streaming for the Internet. For LAN, one could also do MPEG2 streaming, but bandwidth limitations are a major concern for internet streaming.
MPEG-4 is patented proprietary technology
XviD is an open source "MPEG4-class". US patent regulations make it somehow tricky to distribute binary versions.
Player integration is problematic, plugins for players.
H.264 / AVC: very effective, can be downscaled to low bitrates, can also be used on mobile devices.
Theora: completely open source. results are comparable to MPEG-4, but it uses very different technology.
theora encoding is still slow, because there are not many optimised implementations (except MMX).
Theora is supported by various players, but there is also a java applet, 'cortado', that plays video from the web.
Only in Linux there is a problem with java applets. FreeBSD systems do have a Java environment installed.
Jaromil and Eleonora's research also has a codec benchmark table.
They found that for most artworks, a 1200kbps gives good results for PAL.
H264, using mencoder with x264, the encoder was the only one that was doing what it was supposed to do.
Theora is the best codec
For low bitrates, H264 is the only solution
- more control
- can be scripted
- can be configured using a text file
- settings can be searched, you don't have to click around
- it can be hard to find the exact command, with all the options and switches
- especially for video encoding, there are a lot of options to set.
a simple command to try transcoding, is using the programme 'convert' which is part of ImageMagick. It is installed on most linux systems.
#convert filename.xpm filename.jpg
converts the image filiename.xpm into the jpeg format.
Eleonora and Jaromil's research includes a script that was used to encode video's in various codecs using various bitrates, using mencoder and ffmpeg2theora.
This is great as a starting point to learn about buiding the correct command-lines to encode video.
mencoder is better than ffmpeg for encoding. ffmpeg is more a library with a lot of codecs.
related projects are:
FreeJ that can also do (live) streaming, with a lot of interaction control.
Dynabolic: linux distribution for multimedia by Jaromil, just released in 2.0 version.
The research PDF and the Dynabolic image will be uploaded to the local FTP server.
Links only valid during transmission, at Forte Prenestino:
Engage! Tactical Media http://www.engagetacticalmedia.org