Theora Codec is Finalized--Could Have a Big Impact on Video

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 05, 2008

As ZDNet is reporting, the open source Ogg Theora video codec has completed its beta phase and is available in an official version 1.0. On2 Technologies is the commercial player behind this, and the Xiph Foundation drives the open source effort. "Theora is a video codec with a small CPU footprint that offers easy portability and requires no patent royalties," says a statement from Xiph (you'll find the download links there too). Here's why this matters.

Theora is actually much more widely used than many people realize. Upcoming releases of Mozilla Firefox and the Opera browser will support it natively, and Wikipedia uses Theora for all of its video. It's very much an open source darling, and we've really liked the Mac version of Simple Theora Encoder, as Lisa discussed here. An official version 1.0 of the Theora codec is a signal that the codebase is stable and ready for adoption in many more projects.

Theora is capable at this point of single-pass encoding and decoding at multiple bitrates. Also as ZDNet points out:

"Since the codec is unencumbered by royalties, it can be offered as a W3C standard, bringing video inside the Web standards world without relying on a plug-in. It also means you can plug a DVD player into a Linux box and support a codec with the same basic license structure as the operating system."

Video and media playback issues have long been a sore spot for Linux users, so this bodes well. It's also notable that two of the top browsers out there will support this codec natively. I won't be surprised to see Google Chrome follow suit, and I expect Theora to have a pronounced impact on the growing world of online video.