[thelist] formats for video

Javier Muniz jmuniz at granicus.com
Mon Oct 6 13:46:27 CDT 2003

Hi Shawn,

I was simply adding to your explanation.  The inband metadata/scripts
"baloney" is often used as a simple way to embed captions into the video
stream without requiring separate SAMI file that must be manually
synchronized with video data (anyone who has used a SAMI file on a clip that
has been trimmed knows how much of a pain in the ass it is without special
software), and also doesn't require that the player implement the SAMI
standard, or implement it correctly (older players do not support SAMI, or
support it so poorly that it's useless).  Accessibility issues aside,
they're useful for making presentations that show gif/jpg/png slides or
flash movies alongside the video.  

Granted, for the purpose of a 90 second video clip all of this is overkill,
but it's nice to know about and I felt it worthwhile to share with the list.

About linux, I don't believe microsoft can stop people from reading their
formats using their legal team.  If that were the case, they would have done
so to openoffice long ago and killed StarOffice in the process.  As a
result, linux developers are free to read whatever file they want, so long
as they reverse engineer the format themselves. Mplayer doesn't use the
Microsoft codecs, they have their own codec (or in this case maybe just the
"dec") that is able to read the windows media file format.  The one
exception to this may be DRM, and that exception would only apply in the US
due to the DMCA.  Speaking of DRM, placing rights management at a low level
is a Good Thing(tm) as it helps the thwart content piracy.  Of course DRM in
general is an exercise in futility, but that's another discussion entirely.

Regarding the opening off windows media 9 format, please see
http://biz.yahoo.com/rc/030909/tech_microsoft_video_2.html.  There is more
information there.  It seems more aimed at hardware companies (perhaps
Microsoft is pushing for WMV9 dvds?  I've seen demos of HDTV quality video
played off of a standard DVD using WM9).  For a quick blurb and link to more
information regarding Microsoft's perceived strategy in this area, check out

If you find any more information regarding any of this, especially regarding
metadata in MPEG4, please let me know.  I develop rich media applications
and standards compliance is great for sales :)



-----Original Message-----
From: Shawn K. Quinn [mailto:skquinn at frogger.kicks-ass.net] 
Sent: Monday, October 06, 2003 10:55 AM
To: thelist at lists.evolt.org
Subject: Re: [thelist] formats for video

[snipped and reformatted into something resembling a standard quoting 

On Monday 2003 October 06 11:38, Javier Muniz wrote:
  [I originally wrote:]
> > On Thursday 2003 October 02 20:25, Timothy Martens wrote:
> > > Hi Evolters,
> > >
> > > I have a client interested in offering a 90 second video preview
> > > of their service. I'm little rusty on formats (real, mpeg, wmv,
> > > mov, flash, etc.) and am looking for feedback about best delivery
> > > methods for a predominantly version 5+ Browser / PC & Mac user
> > > base.
> >
> > MPEG is the most standard (I assume some of those PCs and Macs will 
> > be running Linux, too). Forget the Windows Media formats; Microsoft 
> > introduces things like this to further their own objectives, often 
> > at the expense of the users. Same for RealVideo or whatever it's 
> > called now.
> >
> > A 90 second video in MPEG1 should not run much over 2 megabytes. You 
> > might be able to get it down to 1.5 megabytes, but the quality might 
> > degrade a bit.
> For a simple video this is true.  However, Windows Media and Real (not 
> quicktime to my knowledge) support features that enable rich media 
> applications though embedding in-band metadata alongside video data.

I don't think he said anything about a huge fancy movie that takes an 
hour to download on a 28.8 modem. I would think a simple 90 second 
movie clip doesn't need all this "rich media" and "in-band metadata" 
baloney you're talking about.

> In any case, linux machines can play windows media and real formats as 
> well,

In the former case, I have serious doubts about the squeaky clean 
legality of using codecs licensed for use under Windows. It is now 
typical Microsoft practice to only license their software for use under 
their version of Windows.

> Microsoft is planning the release of the Windows Media 9 format for 
> public consumption (by standards bodies etc),

Last I checked the same codecs that were formerly used in AVI files were 
broken on purpose for use in WMV such that attempts to read WMV files 
with other software besides Microsoft's own ran afoul of some patent 
they hold. What you describe is completely at odds with this as well as 
their attempt to add digital restrictions management (DRM) components 
at the lowest levels they can get access to.

Shawn K. Quinn
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