I’m not sure I’m going to be able to survive all of the hype and misinformation surrounding HTML 5 video.
No mention of the 800 lbs. gorilla–codec licensing and royalties. Who is paying for all of this plugin killing? Are we relying on “proprietary” OS vendors such as Apple and Microsoft to provide a common set of codecs and foot the bill (where’s the gain in that)? What about open source solutions like FreeBSD, Linux and Open Solaris? Oh and there’s this little thing called mobile–given its ascendancy it might be the major player in this market by the time HTML 5 comes along. And you guessed it–that means some sort of standard set of codecs will need to be on all of these devices before the HTML 5 video tag means much of anything.
While we’re at it I should mention that HTML 5 developers will need a whole slew of low level media APIs that allow them to build interesting media centric functionality into their widgets and web applications. I mean, you want all those fancy playback controls, tagging ratings, searching, etc., right?
Gulp, looks like the folks at Wired don’t really know what they’re talking about.
Call my experience with Silverlight fate, karma, or a vast Microsoft conspiracy…
I’m clicking both to see how smart the installers are…
*Update* For any MS chaps who stop by – after installing, I’m now being asked to download / install the latest version of Silverlight 2 every time I visit the page linked above.
I spent a little time checking out (high level) JavaFX multimedia capabilities. You can actually boil Sun’s entire JavaFX campaign down to a single 1 second sound bite (watch video excerpt below – full video found here).
According to Sun, they have the full support of any multimedia codecs installed on the native system as well as an on2 codec embedded within the runtime (see video quote below to hear their words for yourself).
Native codec support is sort of a mixed bag of control vs utility. JavaFX wants to do everything for every system even if that means you are effectively writing system specific code and delivering uneven experiences. If you manage to actually get the JavaFX runtime installed (no mean feat) you’ll be confronted by a wonderful security dialog which seems to ignore attempts to always trust the cert.
Once you’ve run the gauntlet of JavaFX impediments, you can actually watch some “native” (h.264 .mov files) overview videos playing inside JavaFX. The problem is that the rendering of these videos is far from native–any scrolling or resizing of the browser causes the video to stop rendering (a white rectangle is painted during these movements). I’m also surprised to see Sun using MPEG4-AVC / h.264, but not using aac audio. If you’ve got native codec support why use a crappy audio codec in your videos? The video below illustrates the rendering and audio issues (3 asides: 1) I’m bound and determined to ruin AfterEffects cartoon effect–look for me to overuse it and misapply it, 2) watch in fullscreen mode for 1:1 clarity, and 3) listen half way through to hear one of my kittens snoring).
If you ever wanted evidence of how important video is today, you need look no further than than the gigantic amounts of money Adobe, Microsoft and Sun are sinking into media centric runtimes. Like Silverlight 1.0, the initial JavaFX offering is a half-baked “me too” stab at capturing some video glory. Sure media has been a glaring hole for Java and I can appreciate how all the development platforms in the universe need to provide easier development and enable richer experiences, but so far I’ve been disappointed by the same ol’, same ol’ offerings from Microsoft and Sun. I’m sorry, but “hey look at the same stuff on my platform” isn’t innovative or visionary. As we watch Detroit’s “big three” burn out, I wonder if there aren’t lessons to be learned in our own industry as the nascent “media three” rise (maybe it should be w3m–web three media).
Now that Microsoft has released the Silverlight Olympic data I hope we can put to rest the killer app equals instant ubiquity argument.
Holy mother of all video codecs, Batman! Microsoft announces Silverlight 3 will support h.264. It’s been a pretty good week for Microsoft on the hearts and minds front. First they role out Seinfeld as a pitchman (you had me at Shoe Circus Jerry). The ad was subtle, avoided the obvious Apple references, was utterly devoid of all normal hyperbole evident in recent campaigns (Surface “revolutionizes” the $10K multi-touch coffee table market), and most importantly no obnoxious “aero” translucency was anywhere to be seen (is it just me or is Aero the equivalent of clear plastic pumps).
However, it was the news that Silverlight 3 will support h.264 video and AAC audio that has me ready to sing Kumbaya, kiss the girls in Redmond or become an English soccer hooligan (lots of drinking and a sport I don’t have to pay much attention to…seems grand to me). Now in typical MS fashion they can’t seem to get out of their own way and appear to be pulling a Zoolander and taking credit for the codec’s development.
Self-aggrandizement aside, this is an absolutely huge move by Microsoft and one they should be lauded for. Sure they didn’t get there first (they actually won’t be there for quite some time) and the Flash Player team’s aggressive moves forced their hand, but the end result helps content creators and the industry as a whole out. It’s a move away from vendor lock-in and toward customer empowerment. Microsoft has big plans for Silverlight. They want it to be embedded on a lot of platforms (mobile handsets, consumer electronics, etc.). They don’t have a dominant market position which means they need to leverage existing and future content repositories. It’s a hell of a lot easier to sell customers on RIA platform than it is to sell them on RIA platform + video format, especially when changing video format means re-encoding a large library. Well done Microsoft. Way to connect the dots and make customer needs come first.