Theora Is Now Officially Available

Wow, it seems like only yesterday that I downloaded the newly open sourced On2 VpVision source code package and started reverse engineering an English language description of the VP3 video coding algorithm. Well, actually, that was nearly 7 years ago. VP3 eventually formed the basis of the Xiph Theora video codec. And today Theora is pleased to announce that the codec is finally, well… final. It’s out. No more alpha/beta phases. The codec is ready for primetime use and should be conquering the digital media frontier in short order.

You know, just like Vorbis.

14 thoughts on “Theora Is Now Officially Available

  1. Kostya

    The funny thing is that my blog was created to document my attempts to describe TrueMotion VP2 in human language (so thank you, Mike!).

    As for Theora… Well, I’m not too sure that such an old codec has a bright future at all unlike Vorbis.

  2. Andrew

    The ogv extension sure confused my install (but worked fine in MPC), when I got a video off the Internet Archive which now seems to be using 512KB encoded versions (I *think*) along with MPEG-4 512KB versions – I think the MPEG-4 ones are a bit better to watch, but none as good as the original source of course.

  3. lu_zero

    Well well, took time take a mess and polish it so that idiots and ignorants (like fsf people, and I’m meaning YOU, RMS) could chant for Theoras wonderful quality and such. Now we could still wait for dirac (kick me for not merging ffdirac) and snow (kick michael for not completing it)

    Newsflash: mpeg2 is unpatented as well nowadays

  4. Diego Biurrun

    Luca, since when are all MPEG-2 patents expired? Wikipedia has a nice list, some have been granted as late as 1995, so they will be with us for some time yet.

  5. Alex

    Woah. I know it’s popular to hate on Theora but let’s not forget that the libtheora reference encoder doesn’t support all the Theora features (and is being replaced in 1.1 with a much nicer encoder). FFMpeg has a VP3 decoder that we call “Theora.” (I remember frantically hacking in uncoded 4MV when the first Thunselda demos showed up.) While Theora is no H.264, it is certainly better than H.261.

    MPEG-2 is still most certainly patented.

    While Vorbis never gained a wide consumer deployment, it has still managed to be quite popular in many video games.

  6. Andrew

    Vorbis is excellent for games, no doubt if the tools are made easy Theora will be too – it’s simply a load cheaper then Bink and Smacker ;)

    Then again, if it does require a huge bitrate for reasonable quality, it might be so-so – on the audio side, Vorbis is a great replacement for other compressed audio files, but videos are just that much more CPU intensive and take up that much more space :(

  7. Anonymous

    @Alex: So in summary, the current version has problems but the next version will be the answer to all of our prayers?

  8. lu_zero

    1995 means 13 years… thus 7 left if I recall correctly how long patents last at most. I mixed up mpeg2 with mpeg1 (I checked wikipedia just to be sure) =\

  9. Anonymous

    MPEG-2 was finalized in 1995, but the draft standard had been around for several years before that. All the major patents expire within the next 3 years.

  10. Diego Biurrun

    @Luca: These kinds of mixups make these kinds of discussions so prone to confusion and thus worthless. Please make sure to always doublecheck your facts.

    @anonymous: The date of the draft standard is not relevant. Patents usually last 20 years counting from the filing date.

  11. Mans

    The date of the standard matters, since it would qualify as prior art for any patent submission filed after its publication. Hence, any patent covering part of the standard must expire no later than one patent-lifetime after the date of publication of the standard (or draft, as the case may be).

    The patents in question here are usually US patents, and these last for 17 years. Some European countries do have 20-year patents, but do not allow software patents.

  12. Diego Biurrun

    No, the standard does not cover implementation details. Also, if patents were granted after the standard was released they can still be valid after the standard was released.

    US patents do not last for 17 years. Before June 8 1995 they lasted for 20 years from the filing date, after that date they last for 17 years from the issue date or 20 years from the filing date, whichever is longer.

  13. Mans

    I thought we were talking about patents required by *any* implementation of the standard. For instance, if the DCT were patented, there would be no way around it.

    Thanks for the clarification on patent lifetimes. Given the average latency of the USPTO, I suspect the 17-year time is the relevant one in the majority of cases. Does the June 2005 transition date apply to filing or issue?

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