So Mozilla wants an Open Video format for the web. Yeah well, I want cheap health care for every person on the planet, a pony, and a Red Rider BB gun. Did these people even talk to Acacia?
Let’s start with a clarification, VC1, H.264, and Mpeg2 are all Open. You can go out to SMPTE and get the sample code and modify it to your hearts content, IF you pay the royalties. What Mozilla wants is a Royalty Free Video Format. Which is something very different.
There are nearly 600 patents relating to Motion Vectors in Compressed Video and this is just one small part of what makes up a video codec. It is basically impossible to build a Video compressor with out motion vectors prediction and analysis. You can use wavelets instead of macroblocks, but that is too computationally restrictive for mobile devices which already are severely limited with H.264 and many have hardware acceleration to make that better.
H.264 Simple which is used in many of the hand held devices (iphone, zune, cellphones) is a really dumbed down version of the H.264 Advanced which is used in Blu-Ray. DirectTV and Comcast use H.264 Main in their Set Top Boxes which is somewhere in between. These devices all contain hardware acceleration for decoding motion vectors.
Motion Vectors are a method for pushing only the differential between a frame and the previous frame, or frames which are coming up in the video. Motion Vectors work be cause most things move in straight lines. Think about the Stock ticker on CNN. It is very easy to say Take The Ticker at the bottom and move it Left 40 pixels. Much more easy than describing the text as an image for each frame.
This technology has been the core of video compression since before Mpeg1. The patents for motion vector calculation, detecting motion vectors, decoding them efficiently are so long that no one company could ever build a codec with out licensing technology from another. This is why MPEG LA was formed. MPEG LA is a consortium of patent holders that have agreed to a cut of every decoder and encoder which uses MPEG Technologies. MPEG LA Doesn’t just handle MPEG 1,2, and 4 they are also who you get a VC-1 License through.
SMPTE is the governing body that determines the standard, and how things will be done in the OPEN format, but MPEG LA is responsible for collecting the money.
Even a codec such as MJPEG which doesn’t use Motion Vectors has multiple patent holders all paid a royalty.
Container formats such as Mpeg2 Transport Streams which are what most Digital Cable and Satellite companies push H.264 over has a patent list the length of my arm.
Open Video formats abound. License Free Video Formats are no longer possible, As there is just too much existing royalties IP.