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Hello, Ogg

Posted by michael_n on April 24, 2005 at 10:22 PM PDT

Recently there've been a couple posts on the future of JMF (or lack thereof), and subsequent (and informative) post (and comments) arguing that future developments in media should support of MPEG-4 ; in particular, this passage (copied intact w/ a bunch of great, much appreciated, embedded reference links):

There's one really good choice for such a format today: MPEG-4. It's an open, if patent- and license-encumbered, standard, and it's fabulously capable, with support for world-class audio, video, and even interactivity. The latter has been a focus of IBM, whose MPEG-4 Toolkit offers not only an all-Java MPEG-4 video player, but also supports 2D graphics and interactivity via the SMIL-like XMT-Ω markup, and has tools to compile the markup into its binary form. This is very useful to MPEG-4 developers, is frequently mentioned on the MP4-Tech list and would be great if there weren't a big ol' license fee associated with it.

One of the comments from the aforementioned post mentioned the oft-forgotten Ogg... It's a shame that "MP3" and "MP3 player" have entered the English language (among other languages) in laymans terms as something synonymous to "digital music".

So I thought, in the spirit of supporting Good Things and doing Less Evil in the world, I'd like to reverberate a few encouraging waves through cyberspace in support for the Ogg family of digital media streaming formats. Maybe I'll save some people a bit of time by compiling and summarizing the basics here (mostly compiled from that wonder of community effort, Wikipedia). So, here we go:

The Ogg bitstream format and family of codecs are brought to you by the friendly folks from the Xiph.Org Foundation, a "non-profit organization dedicated to producing public domain multimedia formats and tools."

The audio codecs include the lossy Speex and Vorbis codecs, and the lossless FLAC:

  • Speex: handles voice data at low bitrates (~8-32 kbit/s/channel)
  • Vorbis: handles general audio data at mid- to high-level bitrates (~16-256 kbit/s/channel)
  • FLAC: handles archival and high fidelity audio data

In addition, there are the Video codecs,

  • Theora: video codec targeted at competing with MPEG-4 video (e.g., XviD and DivX), RealVideo, Windows Media Video, and similar lower-bitrate video compression schemes. Licenced under a BSD-style license; it's still under development; there have been 4 alpha releases (the last of which was in Dec 2004); a first beta-release is expected in 2005. In the Ogg multimedia framework, Theora provides a video layer, while Vorbis acts as the audio layer.
  • Tarkin: an
    experimental codec utilizing 3D wavelet transforms

This has been a public service announcement. We now return you to your regularly scheduled computer programming.

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