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Media Technology

Interview With BBC Dirac Developer Thomas Davis 170

arclightfire writes "The subject of the BBC video codec Dirac has been here before, but we've managed to get an interview with Thomas Davies, Senior R&D Engineer at the BBC who devised the Dirac algorithm. Interesting to note that the codec should be with Mplayer soon; "As far as players go, we'll be submitting a patch to Mplayer to allow it to play Dirac pretty soon." And info about the tech developments in Dirac; "I used tried and techniques, like wavelets, which weren't in standards at the time, and tried to develop them. And that's what we'll continue to do as the algorithm develops. So we've tried to build on some pretty well-understood technology, and also tried to do some new things with it. We're patenting the new stuff, quite a bit of which hasn't got into the software yet. The license means that these patents are licensed for free within the Dirac software.""
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Interview With BBC Dirac Developer Thomas Davis

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  • Re:Why bother? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 20, 2004 @09:58PM (#10304379)
    Well, lets wait and see which is better, shall we?

    p.s. If I were you I'd have left off that last sentance...
    "H.264/AVC was ratified by the DVD Forum for inclusion in the next-generation HD DVD format"

    Because we all know how great MPEG2 is. And how much cheaper our HD-DVDs and players will be with mandatory WMV support. Those guys are clueless.
  • Is it in M*ENCODER* (Score:5, Interesting)

    by strredwolf ( 532 ) on Monday September 20, 2004 @09:59PM (#10304380) Homepage Journal
    Having decode support in Mplayer is good. but it's not going to fly well if there's no support for encoding! How are you going to use it to it's full potential in Unix if you can't back up your DVD's with it?

    It goes double for the Ogg Theora format.
  • by solidhen ( 642119 ) on Monday September 20, 2004 @10:22PM (#10304525)
    From what I've read it looks like the goal with Dirac is to get a royalty free codec. If this is correct then why did you decide against using/contributing to the open source/open standard ogg theora codec?

  • by JPyObjC Dude ( 772176 ) on Monday September 20, 2004 @10:28PM (#10304561)

    Licence snippet:

    In the case of the (a) encoder and decoder manufacturer sublicenses:
    For (a) (1) branded encoder and decoder products sold both to end users and on an OEM
    basis for incorporation into personal computers but not part of an operating system...

    I read that this applies to sold software not free software. Licence free for free (OS) software?

  • Patents (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 20, 2004 @10:32PM (#10304579)
    Sounds like those patents are licensed for free within the context of this project, but not if you take the technology out of the codec. Fine, great, except that's the same license Microsoft offered on their SPF stuff, and they got drilled for it.
  • by Papineau ( 527159 ) on Monday September 20, 2004 @10:51PM (#10304671) Homepage

    Does that mean the license does not extend to other usages (besides in Dirac)?

    This could be problematic to include in Mplayer, as Mplayer is licensed under the GPL, and IIRC, there's a patent clause (clause #4?) in the GPL saying something along the lines of "if you license your patent for use in a GPL software, the license extends to all software derived from the first one, not only that first one".

    Is this a correct reading of the situation?

  • Re:Interesting... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mikael ( 484 ) on Monday September 20, 2004 @10:53PM (#10304684)
    It's obvious from the article that they have their own research programmers (they have their own R&D department. I used to see adverts for inhouse graphics programmers).

    They also sponsor quite a bit of university research projects. Probably the most important just now is virtual studios and automatic classification of video clips (automatically convert a video stream into a text description).

  • by peteryorke ( 815196 ) on Monday September 20, 2004 @11:04PM (#10304756)
    What happened to BitTorrent plan for delivery of all the BBC archives? Wasn't it in August 2003 of last year that the BBC said it was going to deliver all of it's audio and video archive via Bit Torrent? I want all my BBC content online for download. When's it gonna happen or is this just more BBC pie in the sky R&D fluff.
  • by Fallen Andy ( 795676 ) on Tuesday September 21, 2004 @12:45AM (#10305339)
    Oh boy. You *are* ignorant. "Dirac" is the physicist
    who came up with the idea of anti-matter. Not only that but he did his Bsc at Bristol University. Yeah
    Bristol south-west of england.

    He didn't like it though. Don't know why, worked for
    me (splutters). I escaped that fine institution as
    a chemist (but I have spent far too many years playing with computers...).

    Bristol is also where the BBC has some of it's more
    interesting people, like the wildlife unit.

    Oh and Bristol Zoo. Which thanks to Alan Cox (cheers mate) used to have a penguin called Linus.
    If I wasn't stuck here in Rainy Athens (hey? I'm
    winding up the UK people ok..) I'd go kiss it right now.

"Paul Lynde to block..." -- a contestant on "Hollywood Squares"