Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
The Internet

New MPEG 4-Based Open Source Codec 176

Jestyr writes: "Let me inform you about our new MPEG-4-based codec called 3IVX. You probably heard of DivX ;-) as a movie compression format. And indeed it's great. But we (the whole team... want to go a bit further. Our goal is to optimize compression so that the file size is smaller, of a higher quality and fully streamable. Moreover the codec will be supported on all platforms (Windows, Macintosh, BeOS, *nix (inlcuding Linux), Amiga ...). To accomplish this the code of the player will become an open source."" I'll believe it when its running on my desktop, but I'd love to see the world standardize on a high-quality video format that is open source. Damn Sorenson.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New MPEG 4 Based Open Source Codec

Comments Filter:
  • Serious question: How in the hell do you pronounce this?

    I have been looking at it and can't come up with anything that any normal sane person would say a few times a day.

  • Why would they need programmers for the ps2?
  • by thing12 ( 45050 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @11:54AM (#546460) Homepage
    The term 'codec' is short for 'coder/decoder'. So for them to describe their product as a codec, which they do, it means the encoding portion of the software will be open sourced as well.

  • That is exactly what I was arguing (though had yet to reach the simple clarity you have no made me realise regarding the LGPL). I was not trying to suggest that the warfare was bad....I was saying it would be good. If something like this was GPL'd and then someone tried to fork the format into a GPL and non-GPL version, we could all enjoy the fight. If it was under a BSD style license and someone started an open and closed fork, it would be the rantings of Free Software campaigners (like me so don't say I'm flamebaiting) that would be calling for the end of the fork, and this would mean the fork would stay and that would be bad for everyone. MP3 is strong because (despite some IP idiots efforts) it is easy to get decoders and encoders and it is a format that provides something people want. No video format is strong yet because the IP idiots have control, once everyone has the opportunity to get a wide range of tools to play and create/edit in one format for all platforms, that format will be hard to shift unless its bitrate/quality is severly beaten to the benefit of the majority of users (and unfortunately windows alone can do that at the moment, but not for long).

    Bottom line, if anyone here is working on any form of a video codec, please please please GPL it and start making your money from the work you can do around the codec and not from the language the codec entails.

  • Not quite. FlaskMPEG is designed to interpret the MPEG-2 streams from DVDs and output them to separate encoder softwares. It is a front-end which interprets the .VOB format, and pipes it to another encoder to do the real work.

    It comes with bbMPEG (3rd party encoder) which can produce MPEG-1 (i.e. VCD) or MPEG-2 (i.e. DVD, SVCD) streams, but not MPEG-4.

    It can also pipe to the Windows AVI system, where you can pick from any AVI codec you have installed (like DivX, or Indeo, or whatever).

    No MPEG-4 support.

  • No, you have no chance. That's my girlfriend and the only reason she seems interested is because I have her get losers to give her gifts and then I sell them and make a tidy profit.
  • That link might be out of date; recently Stux has mentioned [] that patent royalties on the encoder might prevent it from being distributed gratis.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I hereby pledge $100.00, with God as my witness, to the group that promises to implement a free codec better than Microsoft's MPEG4 implementation. Set yourselves up on a website with your promise to implement the codec by a certain date, and I will contribute my money. If you don't do so by the date, I get my money back. If you can accomplish this, you will be wealthy.

    What, you don't think $100.00 is very much? Don't understimate the power of numbers. Put the total amount that you want to be paid individually, the amount you will need to spend in a type of "open budget", and let people come and contribute the money. I know tons of companies, even the one where I work, that would certainly donate cold hard cash to see an excellent, open MPEG4 implementation. Help usher in the dawn of collaborative production!
  • What they hell are they doing? Trying to play macintosh suddenly? The media player looks awfull.. not to mention the screen realestate just doubled *grrrr*

  • I took part in the opencodex contest and won it. The codec libraries (based on h.263+) where finished late september. The quicktime component was assigned to somebody else, and was the reason the whole thing took so long. I am now working on the component myself. The quicktime API is a real mess. Anyone interested in helping me out with this is welcome... The codec shared libraries are fully LPGL and are available in the usual automake/autoconf form. As for 3ivx, i believe the player is open-source but not the codec. One cool feature is postfiltering, but it increases the decoder complexity a lot. A second version of the opencodex codec is scheduled for mid-2001, it uses localised wavelets and therefore eliminates the need for postfiltering.
  • As Anonymous Coward already said, you're referring to the file format question rather than the encoding/decoding. If you compare clips at equivalent bitrates, the new WMV8 codec should compare very favorably to the latest Sorenson (the best codec I'm currently aware of for usage within QuickTime).
  • The encoder is free. Unfortunately, it doesn't encode to AVI's, but to WMV's, which are not readable by every application. Regardless, if you don't mind using Windows Media Player (which I don't), you can download the Encoder for free and convert your existing AVIs. The quality is exceptional. I tried with an AVI but when it was about to start the encoding it opened an errorbox and said soemthing about wrong encoding ?? Wots that? The normal media player can play the AVI just fine.

  • Almost every video game.

    That's what my PlayStation 2 is for.

    A large number of pieces of hardware.

    Like S/390 perhaps? Or how about Alpha? What about ia64? Didn't think so. Windows is behind the times.

    A decent, stable office suite.

    StarOffice works fine for me.

    Fonts that don't look like complete ass.

    Freetype has been out for years now.

    Professional-quality graphics programs (Photoshop and Illustrator).

    Hmm, you keep on defining these software packages as "necessary" -- but then you attach brand-names to them, which precludes any such product that isn't released for Linux. That's a self-fulfilling profecy, because by your definition Linux cannot have said products. Letting that aside, Linux has numerous commercial and free applications that perform the same functions. (Corel Draw and the Gimp, for example).

    DVD players.

    It's illegal to make an open-source DVD player; not much we can do when the law is against us... but if you want to claim that Windows is better because Microsoft has better lawyers (who are in bed with the MPAA), then go ahead and take the dubious prize.

    The wheel is turning but the hamster is dead.

  • It doesn't look DVD Quality and it's Sorsenson, not MPEG4. I've seen both, and MPEG4 is better.

    Also. 300K is equal to 2400k, which is the unit the original poster was measuring in. To get down to 750k, try a 100k movie.
  • Damn Sorenson.
    Who is Sorenson and why are we damning him?
  • If you were going to write a codec for Mac OS, why not use QuickTime?
  • Well DivX ;-) is hardly cross-platform. It's also only available as a Windows Codec, since it's just a binary-hack of an older Microsoft version.
  • Heh, no joke. This sounds like more of a potential landmine than KDE1 or writing your own MP3 codec without paying the licensing fee. Thanks, but I'll wait for Tarkin. :-)
  • Is it possible to have an open source project that uses patented technology? How would the patent holder be able to collect license fees from the users of the program?
  • <rant>

    A new codec is great, especially if new nifty features are created, with one exception, that being when multiple different codecs that are very similar in end behaviour are created. One can look at similar products both having an unusual effect on the market in terms of Gnome and KDE, neither of which is a bad product, both doing roughly the same thing, with slightly different ways to achieve the same result. Unfortunately, neither one blows the other out of the water, so I as a user have to keep different sets of stuff on my computer to ensure compatibility.

    In this new codec, it sounds nice, but I'm curious as to what features, features that will actually matter, will seperate it from DivX. If there really aren't any then wouldn't it just make sense to approach the DivX people and see if they are interested in revising the codec? I remember when QuickTime and Intel's AVI fought it out, and at the time I was using them the Quicktime codec seemed to blow chunks compared to the AVI, but the AVI format wouldn't play cross-platform. now, we have MP3 format, which is nice, cross platform, pretty good compression, no watermarking capabilities, etc, with the only drawback being the whole royalties thing. Microsoft introduced their proprietary format, which from what I've seen is not taking off. The lesser of evils here is clear.

    I don't see how DivX and this new one really have major differences, in the end, that will affect me, but I'm not an expert. What I do see getting ready to develop is two formats fighting to be 'dominant', and neither one winning, instead fragmenting the users similar to how KDE and Gnome, vi and Emacs, etc have, and making people coding universal players stock up on asprin. If people are willing to rally behind a standard that is 'good enough', without settling for crap and staying with something actually worthwhile, it's okay if it's not "bleeding edge", after all, most people aren't there anyway...


    "Titanic was 3hr and 17min long. They could have lost 3hr and 17min from that."
  • by Srin Tuar ( 147269 ) <> on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:00PM (#546478)
    Moreover the codec will be supported on all platforms (Windows, Macintosh, BeOS, *nix (inlcuding Linux), Amiga ...). To accomplish this the code of the player will become an open source.

    They say nothing about opening their codec, just the player. Moreover, they already have investors, IPO plans, and an NDA. They arent going to release their necoder if their investors are worried about a guaranteed profit angle.

    Pretty much more of the same. Even if it works its not anything Free enough to displace WMP. Nothing to see here, move along everyone...

  • Looks like "thriv-ex" to me...

  • by Foogle ( 35117 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:01PM (#546480) Homepage
    I've been waiting for the final release of this codec to do any actual work with it, but I'm really looking forward to this. Even if Windows Media 8 is only marginally better than Windows Media 7, it will still be the best codec around, hand down, in terms of quality and compression. Right now RealVideo and Quicktime are only holding on by their name-recognition... Microsoft has really created a formidable video system, and you don't have to pay ridiculous amounts of money, like with some other companies.
  • by !Xabbu ( 1769 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:02PM (#546481) Homepage
    Sure, open source it, but don't GPL it. Let companies like MS and Real etc. adopt aspects of the player into existing closed source programs. If you GPL the player they most likely won't adopt it, and if it isn't adopted then all of their efforts are for nothing. Best case if the code was GPL'd would be that they create their own player over time and by the time that happens something new will come out. Just a thought.

    Good luck! Sounds like a nice toy! maybe we can get rid of Quicktime or RAM's..

    ...I had a dream!

    - Xabbu
  • I'd really like to see good(and easy) open-source support for printers ala Windows - Mac. CUPS may do it some day, but if there is ever to be good market penetration for desktop *ix, such printer support is essential.
  • I made some h.263(+) libraries for the opencodex contest. The code is really SUPER clean and the encoder and the decoder compile in less than 20k (vlc tables included).
    Unfortunately I have to finish the really nasty part of the contest: the quicktime component. Quicktime is really a nightmare to program. The benefit is that after this component is done, all quicktime movies (sorenson,...) can be converted to the opencodex format.

    Anyone interested in the libh263 source code (LPGL) can contact me ( Full source should be publicly available when contest is over (ie: qt component is ready).
  • 3ivX is an implementation of MPEG-4, which is covered by more patents than you can shake a stick at.
  • just to throw this out there too... the DivX ;-) people are supposedly working on DivX deux, Project Mayo []. The site doesn't give much in terms of details yet though.
  • Microsoft has really created a formidable video system, and you don't have to pay ridiculous amounts of money, like with some other companies.

    Yeah right. You just have to be running Windows, which means you already have paid ridiculous amounts of money!
  • Sorenson Media [], makers of the eponymous proprietary video codec that is included in recent versions of QuickTime. A lot of alternative OS users are annoyed that there's no version of Sorenson for their favorite platform.
  • by sacherjj ( 7595 )
    A decent compression without using Windows Media Player? Can it be?
  • > Until now, the only useful thing I've really seen come out of that research was the Optical Intellimouse.

    Optical Intellimouse uses technology from HP.
  • Check this out... [] Compression/decompression may be the primary definition but Coder-Decoder is also valid.
  • If I create a great codec and sell it, I make money but Slashdot wants to condemn me to Hell. If I create a great codec and give it away I'm dirt poor but Slashdot wants to send me to Heaven.

    I wonder what St. Peter thinks of all this.

    Me personally, I seem to recall that at the beginning of all this, there was a certain other famous guy who's name also began with an S, and wanted to send people to Hell.

    "Come", he said "eat of the CVS tree, and in the day that you eat therof, you will become an Open Source God". So the coders did eat, and their eyes were opened, and they received stock options...

  • by Foogle ( 35117 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @11:35AM (#546492) Homepage
    I've had mixed results from using the various binary hack MPEG4 codecs available. The best MPEG4 I've found so far (and I've tried a number) has been Microsoft's official Windows Media 7 MPEG4 format. It's truly excellent. The ISO standard implementation doesn't hold a candle to it... I hope these guy's have done some serious optimizations.
  • Like everyone pointed out, the best MPEG4 codec is Microsoft's. We need to get rid of patents, or else the only way we'll get technology on Linux is when M$ doles it out to their lackeys at Corel [] and Apple []. And it definitely won't be free, then!
  • Why doesn't someone start duplicating the Quicktime API, so that its codecs can be used in other operating systems?
  • SInce you are the third person to say this...I ask you point to one spot i called quicktime 4 a codec....
  • AFAIK, the important parts of MPEG-4 are final.

    A zillion companies have announced that they will be supporting it; the latest set is the Internet Streaming Media Alliance [].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    here [] (but watch out for the javascript)

    (as reported on the website itself, which won't do much good when it goes down)

  • by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @01:26PM (#546498)
    "Until now, the only useful thing I've really seen come out of that research was the Optical Intellimouse."

    Close but no cigar. The mouse is actually using HP patents, not Microsoft. The only thing I've seen come from MS is a talking paperclip in a word processor.

  • by Decado ( 207907 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @11:36AM (#546499)
    Will we get 6 different iterations of pentium 4 performance comparisons on toms hardware for this new technology?
  • >>so all the linux zealots can have one fewer thing to use the windows partition on their boxes for, bringing the total down to 793.

    Mind to show me the list?
  • It's not exactly Open Source, but Avifile [] does a wonderful job of playing DivX ;-) encoded movies using the windows dlls. The latest version (0.51) fixed one of the playeres biggest bugs, crashing when seeking.

    As stated earlier, XMPS [] also plays mpeg4. There's even an xmms plugin (uses libiaries from avifile and SDL)
  • Try this out-

    It does DivX. The player is open source, you can build it yourself. It works in linux/freebsd. What it does is it reads .dll codecs. You stick the dlls in /usr/lib/win32.

    Download the source and the Extract the zipfile and stick it in /usr/lib/win32. configure/compile/install the source and type in aviplay FILENAME.avi and ta-da! you've got DivX in linux!

    It even plays FRICKEN ASFS and SMR codecs. =]

    The codecs themselves DO NOT use open source dlls though, so it's up to you weather you like this or not, but it's fine, especially with playing ASFs and DivX.
  • So? I can at least INSTALL W2k. 4 out of 6 major distro's Sig7/11 half way through install on my W2k box that NEVER BSODs
  • Also, DivX *has* been successfully reverse-engineered. A few weeks (months?) ago, it was ported to Macintosh by a group without access to the source.

    Heh, I believe you are talking about the same people who created 3ivX, and the source of this whole discussion. They started off reverse engineering DivX to make it work with Quicktime on the MacOS, but decided just to create a new, cross-platform protocol based on all the reverse-engineering work they had done.
  • So, can anyone point to a good source of enlightenment for those of us throughly confused by now about CODECs, formats, compression, QT, Sorenson, etc? A nice web-site explaing the different bits, how it all fits together, a bit of history, how to do it yourself, etc.
  • You can get your compelling evidence at I'm running it on my Mac right now, and it works quite well.

    Unfortunately, it seems to be down right now. I'm betting it's hosted on the same server as 3ivx, and has been /.ed to oblivion.
  • Hmm, wouldn't it still be possible for proprietary software makers to design their own implementation as long as they didn't use this hypothetical code, even if it is GPL'd? So if the format is good enough, they might adopt it anyway.
  • It's pronounced: "This was the only four letter domain name that was left."

    Expect to see a few more like this [] over the next couple of years.

  • He said Professional-quality graphics programs . Corel Draw and Gimp are not in the same class as Photoshop and Illustrator. Don't get me wrong they are good and 90% of the people out there don't need Photoshop and Illustrator but they might want them.

    I've considered a PS2 but I still will keep my Windows partition for the type of gaming I do. A PS2 doesn't do very good on UT/Q3/Etc. mods or custom maps for the strategy games I like to play.

    I can do without winanything(winmodems, winprinter, etc.). Windows can keep those pieces of hardware.

    StarOffice works fine for me too but it is a more resource hungry than I would like. I can see why people with less than top-of-line computers complain about it and I'm not a fan of the integrated desktop. Hopefully the open version will get leaner.

    Freetype doesn't fix everything but helps a lot.

    We will have to see if Intervideo [] will actually release LinDVD. They look like they might be closer but they have been taking a lot longer than people want to wait. They better have been chipset support than there current list because I don't have any of those video cards.

  • 3ivx is not Open Source yet, but they hope to make the decoder OSS eventually. The encoder may never be OSS due to MPEG4 patent issues. The MPEG4 patent people [] probably won't announce their license policies until Spring.

    3ivx uses QuickTime because it's cross-platform and it's the official MPEG4 packaging format.

    3ivx isn't truely MPEG4 yet -- that's a longterm goal. Of course, DivX ;-) isn't really MPEG4 either, and neither are any of the MS codecs.

    It's just an early preview release so far. Obviously 3ivx needs major performance improvements, not to mention a sound layer, before it will be able to compete. But the developers seem confident they will get there.

    DivX ;-) is probably illegal. Project Mayo is still vaporware. OpenCodex is MIA. MS's stuff is limited to Windows (and maybe Mac). So I'm not writing 3ivx off just yet.

  • No. Wrong. I said, and I quote:

    only because there is a wrapper around the Win32 codec.

    Windows media codecs are DLLs that all implement the same set of compression / decompression calls, per se. Once the codec wrapper is written, you can substitute the codec of your choice. Reading a Sorenson stream is no different than reading a DivX stream, or a MS MPEG-4 stream. Please see for the tool, called avifile, that drives pretty much every decoder/encoder for Linux. It uses the native Win32 DLLs to provide all of the real functionality.
  • The Heroine Virtual MPEG library is MPEG-2, not MPEG-4, and the comment on their web page about MPEG-4 being basically a wrapper for MPEG-2 is BS.

    I really doubt the claim that the Heroine MPEG-2 CODEC has been optimized to the point where it can achieve the same quality as Microsoft's MPEG-4 (i.e. DivX) at the same bitrate. I havn't checked out the exact same clip compressed both ways, but I've played the xmovie samples and a bunch of DivX's, and it seems that for the same quality DivX's are way smaller...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The buzz in the community for months has been that 3ivx (I pronounce it "three-vix") is going to be open source. Can't people read? Look at the web page. It clearly says the _player_ will be open source. As far as I can tell, 3ivx has never said anything about open sourcing the codec itself. Besides, did you look at the demo content they have posted? It sucks! The quality is nowhere near as good as DivX ;-) and it doesn't even play full speed. No news no news no news. Lame.
  • by technos ( 73414 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:13PM (#546519) Homepage Journal
    DivX ;-) is NOT cross platform. Sure, you can play the movies under Linux, BeOS, blah, but only because there is a wrapper around the Win32 codec.

    All the players that will play DivX will also play Windows Media 7 MPEG4 as a result. Sorensen too, CmdrTaco.

    There are even compression tools for all of the Windows formats, courtesy of avifile as well..
  • DivX, with or without the smiley face, is not an open standard, nor has it been successfully reverse-engineered. XMPS has plans for DivX support, and it's listed on their website, but I'm fairly certain that it's non-existant. I don't know if they've implemented this yet, but XMPS was planning a Win32 codec-wrapper. Sounds sketchy to me, but it would (theoretically) allow you to use DivX videos.

    However, the only confirmed way to watch DivX encoded videos (to my knowledge) is through any number of windows applications that are using the DivX ;-) codec. This codec is simply a binary hack of a stolen alpha-release of Microsoft's MPEG4 codec.

  • by Tyrannosaurus ( 203173 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:17PM (#546522)
    How many open source encoders are there for DVDs? None, that I am aware of. Yet an open source decoder was on the scene relatively quickly.

    Which way would you rather have it? A Winblows only, proprietary, guarded by 6 million attack dog lawyers format, or a format where the open source community already has half of the equation?

    Yeah, it would be nice to have it both ways, but lets not get pissed off when stuff is handed to us!


  • I actually came into this story primarily to post the exact opposite sentiment! Now that I have read more I actually couldn't care about this 3ivx as it reads to me as a half-arsed scam (they will give an open source player and that's it!). I will still explain why I would hate to see something like this released under a license other than the GPL.

    Imagine a codec was released under a BSD style licensce, the most likely outcome would be for MS and Sorenson to pick it up if it has any worthwhile qualities and then to hack their IP into it or it into their IP and then release this as a binary. Now at this point we have just lost cross-platform compatibility and the battle will return to the battle of the commercials.

    Imagine it is GPL, no company is going to pick it up unless it is better than their own product, in which case they will pick it up and figure out how to release software with it/to use it and still make money. The take-up may be incredibly slowed, but at least if their is a take up it will be of the same codec that everyone is using, and not a closed hack on it which creates the same mess as we have had up to now.

    This will get modded as flamebait, but do you work for aplle, sorenson, real or MS? If not WTF are you thinking?

  • by davidu ( 18 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @02:12PM (#546530) Homepage Journal
    1. 3ivx is not Open Source yet, but they hope to make the decoder OSS eventually.

    How do you know this? Do you have some sort of information that we don't?

    2. DivX ;-) is probably illegal. Project Mayo is still vaporware.

    The legality of DivX ;-) is unknown, we are lucky I suppose that microsoft hasn't done anything, but seing as how the cat is out of the bag, would it matter? Also, to be vaporware, doesn't a company have to promise a release date and break it. When does projectmayo plan on releasing? When have they said they are? There web site is a bit thin but I wouldn't call them vaporware quite so soon.

    In any case, I think it is down to 3ivx and projectmayo. Let the best codec win.

  • It's illegal to make an open-source DVD player

    Read my lips.....BULLSHIT

    You must be are American and hence subjected to the most absurd legal system in the world (and to those who deny this I quote your Presidential Election AND Todays' lovely cryptography/seizure addition to the Medal of Honor bill....I don't need to mention teenage Swedes do I). I am Eurpoean and hence can happily write a DVD player, GPL it and then stick it onto any distribution system I want that is not corrupted by US law

  • by pixel fairy ( 898 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:21PM (#546535)
    free as in no crap about patents, nda, etc so theres no chance of another sorensen happening.

    Xiphophorus []


    Fiasco! []

  • by SethD ( 42522 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:22PM (#546537) Homepage
    The 3ivx codec/player has a lot of potential, but if you look closely, there's not much going for it yet.

    First of all, it requires QuickTime. Not only that, but the player really isn't anything but a quicktime plugin. That right there is enough of a problem to make me shy of it.

    Ok, now. Another problem is this. The encoder isn't even released yet (that I know of??). What good is the player if there isn't an encoder. Until this is released what good does it do us except let us "ooh" and "ahh" about what it could become.

    Performance: All I've heard about 3ivx is how poor the performance is, unless you've got a P-III with about an 800mhz CPU. So much for all of us who aren't making 75 grand a year and have to stick with the same computer for a little while.

    Look what else is out there: Right now the standard is Divx ;-). It would take some pushing around to change the standard, but I could see this happening...except that we've got MS Video 8 coming, Divx Duex, and who knows what else out there that just has a lot more potential.

    My conclusion: It has potential, but it's gonna take some kicking and screaming to make everybody happy with this one...Good luck!

    (the comments contained in this posting are simply my own opinions)
  • by davidu ( 18 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:22PM (#546538) Homepage Journal
    Ok, lets see here

    1. What we want is a REAL open source codec. We don't want an open source player, API, or "framework" -- we want a true MPEG-4 open source codec.

    2. The 3ivx website has released a closed source codec that integrates into quicktime but from what they have released so far, it doesn't compete with Windows Media Format or Sorenson AT ALL. I sure hope that they will release something of decent quality soon.

    3. Of all the groups working on a nice MPEG-4 codec, we have seen many die, fizzle, or simply lie. [] is pretty much off the face of the planet and now their website is just some virtual hosting site. 3ivx [] has said they have a supperior product, and that it will be open source, so far both have been false. That leaves it to ProjectMayo [] -- the group started by the creator of DivX. They haven't released anything yet but they sure seem to be the most professional. Perhaps we can appeal to them to become open source.

    No matter what happens, the community is ready for a REAL MPEG-4 codec that does not just have some open player, it needs to be fully open so that it can be ported to all OS's, optimized, and hacked to be even better than a small group of developers could imagine.

    just my $.02,

  • As others, and yourself, have pointed out, the DLL method does work. It's hardly open source, nor is it portable beyond x86 architechture. As for the Macintosh port, I have heard nothing about this, and you aren't offering any compelling evidence that it actually exists. And as for the Matrix screenshot, I was unable to find it, although I don't doubt that it was once there.
  • Yeah, I submitted that as a story the day the codec was out, but the zealots running this site rejected it within two hours!

    One problem thatstill needs to be addressed is real time encoding. If content providers want to utilise the technology they'll want to be able to do this to live feeds such as newscasts and sports coverages which I suspect is not feasible yet or at least not at bitrates MS are quoting. Having said that the codec is very impressive regradless. MS is flexing their muscle again and only stupid or ignorant people (such as slashdot editors) would neglect such advancements.

    Way to go slashdot. you guys rock.

  • by IvyMike ( 178408 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:44PM (#546546)

    Microsoft spends something like four billion dollars [] a year on research. Until now, the only useful thing I've really seen come out of that research was the Optical Intellimouse.

    But I have to say that I've just tried the WM8 stuff, and it's pretty good. Actually, it's better than that--it's scary good. The audio compression blows away RealAudio, and although I've only listened to the few samples available, seems to be able to rival mp3 quality with a much better compression ratio. The video is pretty good (although I think that 'DVD quality' is a stretch--I easily noticed artifacts that I wouldn't tolerate on a DVD.)

  • I was not impressed. Why does it use QuickTime 4 player? Why is the video clip samples not impressive? Anyone else noticed this?

  • by Fross ( 83754 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @02:29PM (#546555)
    Geez, there's a lot of hot air and FUD going on here at the moment, so here's a few facts. Most of these can be gleaned from just looking through their website.

    - 3ivX is/will be a codec for encoding audio and video, based on MPEG-4. Hopefully it will be better than most other MPEG-4 codecs out there, the player, at least, will be open source.
    - it is still VERY much in development! all the stuff out there on is *test*. it is certainly not ready for public scrutiny or evaluation. Why this got posted to /. (or accepted) i dont know, as it's certainly nowhere near ready for release.
    - to quote from their site:

    As explained in the previous report, we would like to remind you that the code contains absolutely no optimization. Nothing is assumed about the hardware - and this is to facilitate the ports to other platforms.

    ...emphasis their own. The purpose is to get this product 100% MPEG-4 compatible and stable, and then to speed it up.
    - In terms of multiplatformability, 3ivx runs under Quicktime, but also runs under XAnim. So now you know.
    - One of the performance targets of 3ivx is to get fast encoding, as well as decoding. So far, it has encoded up to almost 3 times as fast as the Sorenson encoder. And this is still in development, with no optimisations.
    - i dont know what planet people are on who are saying the codec is poor quality. Screenshots on the 3ivx site show it positively kicking Sorenson's ass at the same bitrates.
    - the support page lists all sorts of other technology bits going into 3ivx, so check it out.

    So there you have it. It's a free, multiplatform open source and hopefully high quality audio/video codec. It looks to be good, especially if it can be better than Div X ;-) (which in terms of piracy is the format of choice, which says a lot about its quality), and beats waiting around for MS to port WMP to Linux. Ha!

    Though given everyone whining about the lack of a good codec for Linux for the past year or two, I'm surprised why everyone has suddenly attacked it without doing some research beyond reading the first line of the article. Get involved. :)

  • Of course you can build patented algorithms into open source projects and still make money off the patents.

    As a matter of fact, all patents are available publicly and one of the criteria for a patent is that you must describe the invention clearly enough so that a person "ordinarily skilled" in the art can replicate the patented technology.

    Even if a company were to cut and paste the code from an open source project into a closed-source commercial product that would not effect, in any way, the enforceability of the patent.

    The rub comes in where companies want to keep thing a "trade secret". There is no time limit on trade secrets and the must be kept secret, and don't prohibit someone from independently inventing the same thing.

    Trade secrets and open source don't mix but patents and open source can coexist.

    As and aside, most of the patent licensing revenues are derived from deals between companies not from end users. End users pay for a product, which is generally more than just a collection of patents.

    Whether patents are a good or evil is a completely different subject.
  • The encoder is free. Unfortunately, it doesn't encode to AVI's, but to WMV's, which are not readable by every application. Regardless, if you don't mind using Windows Media Player (which I don't), you can download the Encoder for free and convert your existing AVIs. The quality is exceptional.
  • by thing12 ( 45050 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:25PM (#546563) Homepage
    Yup you're right - on this page [] I see in more detail that the encoder will be free but not open sourced. Damn damn. My bad.
  • MPEG is the Motion Pictures Expert Group. They sit around and think of newer, better ways to present movies.

    MPEG-4 is a standard for compression of movies, much in the same way MPEG-2 is used for DVD and MPEG-1 was used for VideoCD. It supports less resolutions, but a much lower bitrate and is a much more lossy format. It was designed for video streaming.

    DivX is a binary hack of an unreleased Microsoft 'MPEG-4' codec. I have that in quotes because it isn't exactly MPEG-4; Hard to conform to a standard that doesn't really exist, so they made a bit of it up as they went. There are other hack codecs, such as the Angelpotion codec, as well.

    Microsoft has since released a 'MPEG-4' version (Again, quotes) from the same heritage as the DivX codec, but with additional tweaks, mainly to make it stream better. A newer, better version is expected to be released with Media Player 8.

    Well, at least that's how I understand it, but I may be wrong.
  • by gleam ( 19528 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:29PM (#546565) Homepage
    Good lord, have you looked anywhere in the past few months? XMPS supports DivX. XMMS supports DivX through two separate plugins. Xtheater and lamp both play DivX. It's not a "theoretically", it's a "does".

    There are very few problems with DivX support in linux. The windows dll method works quite nicely, and performance is just fine on my system.

    Also, DivX *has* been successfully reverse-engineered. A few weeks (months?) ago, it was ported to Macintosh by a group without access to the source. It's not a particularly difficult task, since the method used by the codec is very simple.

    In any case, if you check the XMPS website (at least last time I checked) you can even see a screenshot of the software playing the trailer from "The Matrix". Unconfirmed? Sheeeeeeesh.

  • Some info on the patents on MPEG4 is here: []

  • Heroine Virtual has an open source MPEG-2 encoder [].
  • I stand corrected: After checking out that site you pointed me to, I realize that DivX ;-) is available on the Macintosh. Of course, that doesn't make it any more Open Source or even cross-platform. It uses the Macintosh version of the Windows Media Player, and the Macintosh version of the hacked binary that was originally stolen from Microsoft in the first place.

    There is no open source DivX ;-) codec. It was stolen from Microsoft in the alpha stage and remains a second-rate codec, due to this. The newer versions of Microsoft's MPEG4 scheme are *much* better. After all, why wouldn't MS use their own codec, if DivX ;-) was really so good? I have tested each of these various MPEG4s and am quite satisfied that Microsoft's Windows Media Encoder does the best job of compression relative to loss in quality. And I've heard even better things about their upcoming version of Windows Media.

  • by SClitheroe ( 132403 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @11:36AM (#546573) Homepage
    What's the value of an open source decoder, without a similarly open sourced encoder? I checked the website, and can't find any mention of the encoder and its source code.

    This company just wants unpaid help to port their player around in the hopes of gaining market share...
  • I can't wait for the day when all pr0n is viewable on my linux boxen...

    Midwatch Industries
  • They are NOT the same thing... It's an entirely new beast...
    "Titanic was 3hr and 17min long. They could have lost 3hr and 17min from that."
  • I don't see how that's a loss, unless you just want to make the MS users suffer.

    I have no interest in making MS users suffer, but the fact is that everyone would suffer because cross compatibility would be gone, you would be back to two (or more) implementations and only one would be able to play a given stream. If it was GPL'd however, if someone tried to make an incompatible version they would be faced with warfare from all the platforms they didn't support (let alone the effort required to make sure you didn't let any GPL code into the re-engineered version). Would apple and sorenson and MS and real all create their own incompatible imlementations or would they just say "fuck it" and write thier higher level aps so that they can use the codec?

  • by mcice ( 212918 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:35PM (#546591)
    So much hype, so little news.

    First, there is only a 3ivx decoder which in fact
    is a Quicktime 4 plugin. The de-facto standard
    these days is a AVI-encoding enabled (i.e.patched)
    version of Microsoft's MPEG4 V3 DirectShow filter
    and that DS code alone is worth three months of
    writing and debugging. But then, to make a codec
    you need an encoder as well and this is also still
    missing. But that is not the most difficult part.

    Microsoft has spent a huge amount of work on
    improvements for the original, specified MPEG4V1
    written-down-on-paper standard for film encoding.
    Which means they already have quite an edge
    because if you look at the output of their V1 and
    their V3 codecs, you will notice how much better
    V3 deals with low (800-- kbit/s) bitrates. These
    movies of course are ~512 Pixels (and up) in X
    resolution, for 1.85:1 you see 224 pixels in Y
    direction, pirated movies have around ~640x288
    pixels in case you never seen one. Compare that
    to the unplayable 12.5 fps stamp-sized demos on
    3ivx' webpage, there's a difference isn't it.

    As for Windows Media Encoder 8, while their AAC
    implementation now cuts off at 16khz and still
    stinks at anything above 64kbit/s compared to
    MP3@128 (wme7 cuts off at 20 but lacks sound
    transparency just like wme8), the new WME8
    codec is now slightly better than DiVX ;-) even.
    The visible-macroblock plague from V3 is very
    well hidden now without smearing the picture,
    which is quite a stunt at 500 kbit.

    Thinking three years ahead, if you should be able
    to once buy&download movies in MPEG4, you can
    certain that MS will be supplying the codec,
    because (once again) piracy has bought MS a huge
    marketshare. Some russian chap even ported the
    codec to Linux by emulating DirectShow DLL calls
    (ouch). Combine this with a P3-Nvidia-5.1-Dolby
    Digital-whizzbang X-Box and you can get a glimpse
    what your kids may want for x-mas 2002 B).

    Merry Christmas
    from Germany.
  • by Foogle ( 35117 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:36PM (#546593) Homepage
    It's not quite as high as he was saying, but it's high enough:
    • Almost every video game.
    • A large number of pieces of hardware.
    • A decent, stable office suite.
    • Fonts that don't look like complete ass.
    • Professional-quality graphics programs (Photoshop and Illustrator).
    • DVD players.

    There are probably others, as well, but that's all I can think of right now. And for each item on that list there is limited support under Linux. For example, I won't deny that KOffice has serious potential... If it didn't crash every two minutes. I'm sorry, but I'm sticking with Win2k. It's at least as stable as Linux and, unlike Linux, the applications are there.
  • ...and if you ask Apple, you get exactly the opposite. It's the classic "point fingers everywhere but here".
  • DivX is just a warez collection of hacks to the Microsoft MPEG4 video codec, WMA audio codec, and the FhG MP3 codec. Gej and Max pretend it's theirs so they can gain street cred and hopefully $$$. Anyways, when you're comparing the WMA v8 codec to DivX, you're either comparing it to FhG's MP3 codec or to WMA v1 (IIRC). People just cloud the codec field by claiming "DivX" is a new codec. (And likewise, WMV v8 vs. "DivX" is just WMV v8 vs MS MPEG4 v3.)
  • by SkyIce ( 184974 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:52PM (#546598)
    A successor to DivX is already being worked on at []. From the site:
    Here at Project Mayo, we want the job done right. Project Mayo is the heir to DivX ;-). Our members include the creators of DivX ;-), and we're using that talent to solve the problems standing between today's Internet and where broadband video ought to be. Some of the technologies we're developing are a Big Deal and will take some time. So be patient. But soon, we will start releasing tools and applications for the community to kick around. Then, when all the pieces are in place, we will launch our official site and our true identity, and there will be much rejoicing. Stay tuned.

    Doesn't look like it's going to be open source, but it could definitely cause some troubles for 3ivx if it competes.

  • by youngsd ( 39343 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @12:53PM (#546600)

    The way patents work, you can't be sure that any project is free of patents. Unfortunately, most of the people starting these "patent free" projects think that patents are like copyrights and trade secrets -- if you don't copy, you're alright. Patents don't work that way.

    A safe rule of thumb would be to assume that anything is likely covered by an issued or pending patent filed by someone -- hopefull it is someone who isn't a vulture. Even when standards organizations make their members agree to license their patents on reasonable terms, they have no control over the companies who are not members. The number of software patents are growing so quickly you can never be sure a particular concept is not patented (even if you could look through all of the hundreds of thousands of issued software patents, you have no insight at all into the hundreds of thousands that have been in the application phase for a few years and are almost ready to issue).

    It is an unfortunate state of affairs, but no one can claim to know that a paticular project is patent-free.


  • Yeah, I'd have to agree with the DVD comment.

    While the artifiacts are clearly visible it's still excellent. Nevertheless, that 750k stream is the best looking stream of realtime video I've ever seen over my 1.5mbps cablemodem, and that includes some 1mpbs MP7 streams. They must have used a very high quality source for that sample.

    The audio is excellent too.
  • by Proud Geek ( 260376 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @11:41AM (#546605) Homepage Journal
    That really was the idea behind MPEG4 all along, that it should provide compression for streaming applications, and that MPEG2 should be used for movies where the quality was really important.

    But it would be really good if they could use some open and unencumbered standards. DIVX;-) was really cheap, just ripping off Microsoft's binaries and putting some cracks on them. I don't think they could have made a truly free implementation because of all the patents involved, so I think it's time to move beyond MPEG4 and get a totally new and free standard, like Ogg Vorbis is doing.

  • by Decado ( 207907 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @11:44AM (#546610)

    3ivx = 3-iv-x = 3-4-10 = ealo

    Sorry for the lowercase roman numerals, bloody lameness filter rejected it with all uppercase :P

  • Well, no matter where you are you can always (if you are willing) take the approach seen in the great McDonalds case where the authors of a McD critical leaflet spent a few years in court costing McD's a huge amount of legal fees while they didn't pay a penny in legal fees AND (far more importantly) were all worthless (no assets) so that McD's could never recoup the money.

    Bottom line, look what happened in Sweden regarding DeCSS. It is the U.S. that causes all the problems so I will say it again.....Should all coders be in Europe? []

  • You may not be able to create any video codec without infringing on some patents, but as I understand it, if you try to implement something non-trivial that is MPEG4-compliant, you will be infringing.
  • Yes, but if it's truly better, people would use the GPLed one over the closed source one, drawing more people away from closed software. If it's not as good, people just won't use it. This is the same reasoning RMS used when he said people should stop using LGPL.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    QuickTime 4 is a format encoding. The part of MPEG4 people actually care about is the codec. There is no "QuickTime4" codec, but most people tend to use sorensen. Sorensen was not developed by apple.

    I'd be interested in some real studies comparing the Sorensen codec to the MPEG4 codec.
  • Don't bother at the moment ... Sorenson 3 is coming out with QT 5 and it should be *dramatically* improved over current generation codecs. Which MSFT's still is, just a very good one.
  • I'm curious as to what features ... will seperate it from DivX

    3ivX is standards-compliant; DivX is not.
    3ivX might become open source; DivX will never be.

    wouldn't it just make sense to approach the DivX people and see if they are interested in revising the codec?

    The DivX people don't even have the source to DivX; how are they supposed to revise it?
  • by Wag ( 102501 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @11:48AM (#546628)
    For those of you who want to see some truly amazing advancements in Microsoft's utilization of the Mpeg4 codec, go check out this page: /c ompare/video.asp

    If you have a high bandwidth connection the 750k stream looks quite impressive. Almost DVD quality. The audio demo is quite good as well, sounding much better than mp3 encoding at the same data rate.

    There's a beta version of the encoder available from MS if anyone wants to fool around with it.
  • by VValdo ( 10446 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @11:53AM (#546631)
    One thing I don't get with all the MPEG-4 and the Windows Media Player and DivX ;) and all is who owns what.

    For example, I heard DivX was adapted from some leaked Microsoft source code. Does that mean that DivX is not fully free? I'm sure M$ didn't GPL that code.. so what's up with that?

    Similarly, is the MPEG-4 codec itself free? Is it like MP3 where some institute somewhere owns it? I know it's been in development for a long time, so are there relevent patents involved?

    And now 3ivX....apparently also a derivitave of someone else's work (MPEG-4)... How "legit" is the whole thing in terms of free-as-in-speech-ness? Will 3ivX-in-hardware players conceivably be legally available someday Can anyone use the 3ivX standards without paying a royalty?

    Sorry, just kinda confused. I appreciate the technological acheivements here, but I'm curious about the licensing/other issues.

  • by phutureboy ( 70690 ) on Wednesday December 20, 2000 @11:53AM (#546633)
    another mirror here []


I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel