Another tiny little rant.

One of the famous pieces of arguments you hear when people discuss open audio/video codecs like WebM, Theora and Ogg Vorbis is that, unfortunately, the patent-encumbered MPEG formats are here to stay.

“MPEG-4, MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) and AAC are here to stay, man! They totally won the hardware support war! Every Blu-Ray thingamabob from here to Vladivostok plays MPEG stuff!”


Except it doesn’t.

A few days ago, Blender Foundation released Tears of Steel, their most recent open movie production.

Yep, the film is available for download in 720p and 1024p high definition video. 720p file turns out to be a .mov file with H.264 video with MPEG1 Layer 3 audio. Standard stuff, right? Easy peasy?

Xbox 360 refuses to do anything with this file.

The Philips Blu-Ray player I have at hand thinks H.264 is okay. Audio track isn’t quite so.

Every single frigging time I’ve tried to play anything H.264-related on any device, it’s been guesswork whether the stuff works or not. Sometimes the file works right. Sometimes it only plays halfway through and mysteriously stops.

I can’t make guesses on what works and what doesn’t beforehand. I can never quite remember which of the various versions that are available for download actually work on either of these players.

Now, granted, neither of these things can play WebM at all. But I at least know that WebM isn’t supported so I don’t waste time downloading the files. Having a player that definitely doesn’t play the file is better than having a player that possibly plays the file or possibly doesn’t.

I ended up watching the film using the YouTube app on the player (because apparently ahem YouTube sometimes can set specific standards or something). I’m also so glad I can just plug my netbook to the television via VGA cable and just use frigging VLC, because VLC plays everything. =)

Over-caffeinated and very non-technical and pretty pointless rant is quite over. Now go watch Tears of Steel, it’s actually pretty decent. =)