Breaking Eggs And Making Omelettes

Topics On Multimedia Technology and Reverse Engineering


Wave Goodbye; What About VP8/WebM?

August 7th, 2010 by Multimedia Mike

Some big news in the geek community this past week came in the form of Google’s announcement that it would no longer be caring about its vaunted Wave technology. I was mildly heartbroken by this since I had honestly wanted to try Google Wave. Then I remembered why I never got a chance to try it: they made it an exclusive club at the beginning. I really did try to glean some utility out of the concept by reading documentation and watching videos and I had some ideas about how I might apply it. Then again, I try to think of a use for nearly any technology that crosses my path.

It still struck me as odd: Why would Google claim that no one was interested in their platform when they wouldn’t give anyone a chance to try it out? A little digging reveals that Google did open it for general use back around May 18. That date sounds familiar… oh yeah, VP8 was open sourced right around the same time. Maybe that’s why I don’t remember hearing anything about Wave at the time.

But now I’m wondering about VP8 and WebM. How long do you think it might be before Google loses interest in these initiatives as well and reassigns their engineering resources? Fortunately, if they did do that, the technology would live on thanks to the efforts of FFmpeg developers. A multimedia format has a far more clear-cut use case than Google Wave.

Posted in Multimedia PressWatch | 3 Comments »

VP8: The Savior Codec

April 16th, 2010 by Multimedia Mike

This past week, the internet picked up — and subsequently sprinted like a cheetah withan unsourced and highly unsubstantiated rumor that Google will open source the VP8 video codec, recently procured through their On2 acquisition. I wager that the FSF is already working on their press release claiming full credit should this actually come to pass. I still retain my “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude. However, I thought this would be a good opportunity to consolidate all of the public knowledge regarding On2’s VP8 codec.

Pictured: All the proof you need that VP8 is superior to H.264
Update: The preceding comment is meant in sarcastic jest. Read on

The Official VP8 Facts:
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in HTML5, Multimedia PressWatch, On2/Duck, VP8 | 22 Comments »

Google Funding VP3 On ARM

April 11th, 2010 by Multimedia Mike

Some news is making the rounds that Google is funding ARM improvements for the Theora video decoder. It gives the free software faithful renewed hope. However, reading this news makes me wonder: Doesn’t FFmpeg already have ARM optimizations for Theora? In fact, it does, as indicated by the existence of the file libavcodec/arm/vp3dsp_neon.S. This has optimized IDCT transform/get/put and loop filter functions for NEON instruction sets. I know there are several different types of SIMD for ARM chips and I don’t know if NEON is the most common variety.

The most pressing reason for funding this effort is, of course, license purity.

Posted in Multimedia PressWatch, VP3/Theora | 9 Comments »

Apple Screen Codec

September 1st, 2009 by Multimedia Mike

In reading Ars Technica’s lengthy, thorough review of Apple’s new Snow Leopard, I noticed the addition of screen recording to QuickTime. The screenshots indicate that it is configurable for “medium” and “high” quality. Naturally, I bring this up because I wonder what format the video is saved in. QuickTime’s extensive suite of default video codecs does not include a lossless, screen video-oriented codec (per my recollection). And since the feature is out there, people are going to expect FFmpeg and all of its descendant apps to be able to transcode it.

Posted in Multimedia PressWatch | 5 Comments »

Video Ads In Magazines

August 21st, 2009 by Multimedia Mike

I am greatly anticipating learning more about how this technology works: Video appears in paper magazines. Copies of Entertainment Weekly (a U.S. entertainment magazine) will have small, presumably flexible screens that are supposed to be able to store 40 minutes of video. The magazines are slated to go on sale in Los Angeles and New York next month. With any luck, San Francisco (which I am near) may see a few as well.

Americhip Demo

The BBC article reports that the underlying chip technology is supposed to be similar to the stuff found in singing greeting cards. That sounds like an oversimplification. But the article also names the tech supplier– Americhip, the self-proclaimed leader in multisensory marketing. They have a YouTube channel with demos of this and related technology.

Posted in Multimedia PressWatch | 1 Comment »

JavaFX and On2 TrueMotion

August 16th, 2008 by Multimedia Mike

Have you heard of Sun’s JavaFX? It’s due out later this year and is allegedly positioned to compete in the RIA space. It might be pertinent to mention that I work on a competing technology. Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that I recently learned that On2 is reported to be supplying JavaFX with video codec technology. According to “Sun Adds Comprehensive Video Capabilities to Ubiquitous Java Platform with On2 Technologies,” Sun licensed On2’s “TrueMotion” codec. I’m not entirely sure what codec they’re talking about and I can’t quite find any solid details. On2’s site seems to classify TrueMotion as encompassing both VP6 and VP7. I’m always surprised to hear the name TrueMotion since I thought that went away after the Duck Corporation morphed into On2. But the VP* series seems to be interchangeable with TrueMotion, just for extra confusion.

Who knows? Maybe they actually are using the classic Duck TrueMotion video codec in JavaFX.

Curiously, there is no word on what JavaFX will use for audio. Maybe logarithmic PCM in au/snd files?

Posted in Multimedia PressWatch, On2/Duck | 4 Comments »

Portable Movie Super Player

April 15th, 2008 by Multimedia Mike

I still read the IMDb Studio Briefing everyday, though it gets a little discouraging. I sometimes wonder if there will ever be anymore interesting multimedia tech news. I should have more faith: New Movie Media Devices Predicted. Really, the story here is that IBM has developed a new, giant capacity yet very small storage method. This is one of those curious situations where they don’t mention how large capacities can possibly reach but instead express the capability in terms of how much media the thing might theoretically hold. It’s left as an exercise to the reader to decide what the average size of a ‘song’ or ‘movie’ might be and compute from there.

Remember the days when CD-ROM storage capacities were expressed in terms of how many printed documents it could hold? Later, the benchmark was number of pictures, then songs. Now it’s movies. This article cites that a device built around the memory could hold the 3500 movies or 1/2 million songs. Thus, the average movie is ~140 times larger than the average song.

The weirdest aspect of the articles floating around is that the hypothetical device would come with 3500 movies prepackaged and the consumer would purchase codes to activate individual movies.

Given recent media consumption trends, there’s little reason to doubt this strategy.

Posted in Multimedia PressWatch | 2 Comments »

Sun’s Multimedia Rumblings

April 14th, 2008 by Multimedia Mike

I’m reading fluffy press releases today about how Sun is going to work towards developing an open video codec: Sun Tackles Video Codec. The article is short on substance which is generally what earns this article a spot the Multimedia PressWatch category of this blog. Something about an Open Media Stack (OMS), perhaps correlated somehow to Open Media Commons (not to be confused with Open Media Now!).

It’s hard to find anything about this initiative that’s not a rehashed press release. But this Sun blog seems to have the most authoritative information, abstract though it may be. They present a fascinating design approach: Rather than evaluate algorithmic techniques based on their performance, evaluate them based on their legal status.

Good luck to them. Here’s a Wiki page to track it.

Posted in Multimedia PressWatch | 1 Comment »

Android Multimedia SDK

November 12th, 2007 by Multimedia Mike

Google has unveiled their mighty Android platform SDK today. It apparently based uses that phone-based flavor of Java. An ergonomic Eclipse-based development environment and a software emulator are both provided for your experimentation.

Android logo

That’s nice. But let’s cut to what really matters — multimedia. The SDK specifies the Media API along with its MediaPlayer and MediaRecorder APIs. According to the AudioEncoder class, audio can be encoded to AMR-NB. The VideoEncoder class specifies H.263, H.264, and MPEG-4 SP. All pretty standard for a mobile application, I suppose.

Who handles the multimedia heavy lifting? Vitor noticed this press release and associated fluffy overview from PacketVideo

It’s Java, though, and that means obfuscated Java bytecode programs. Time for a renaissance for my Java de-obfuscator?

Posted in Java, Multimedia PressWatch | 6 Comments »

Android Multimedia

November 6th, 2007 by Multimedia Mike

I honestly do not understand much about Google’s new Android platform. But if I gather correctly from the surrounding hype and press releases, it’s the answer to all of my prayers and will make every single one of my dreams come true.

If you’re like me (and, let’s face it, if you read this blog then you probably are), you are interested in the multimedia features of this proposed platform.

Android phone logo image

The literature that I have perused thus far has not made any remarkable claims with respect to multimedia capabilities amidst all the other wish-granting facets of the phone framework. The above picture, which seems to be the mascot image, specifically sports that ubiquitous symbol of multimedia playback — the rightward-facing arrow in a circle.

Since “open source” is a key selling point of this platform, what are they going to use for a general multimedia backend? I can hardly imagine.

Posted in Multimedia PressWatch | 1 Comment »

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