• Published
  • Filed under Notes

Status of WebM encoding on OSX?

In the beginning of 2011, I wrote a post about the status of video formats on the web. After years of non-compatibility, there was finally hope that implementing video on the web would become much easier, thanks to Google purchasing and open-sourcing the WebM codec.

Now, more than two years after Google’s announcement (May 2010), not much has changed on the web. In particular, it is still extremely inconvenient to encode files into WebM. I wonder, how can the developers of WebM expect any adoption of the format, when there are no GUI-based tools available to produce it without a huge effort? How are we supposed to create those videos? Even Vimeo has declared that for now, it a too big headache to encode in WebM…

I just posted the following question to the WebMproject mailing-list:

Hello WebM discussion list,

I would like to ask what are the currently available methods of producing WebM files under MacOSX, without having to use the command line.

Are there any tools that have a GUI and that offer access to essential settings such as the picture dimension, the frame rate and the bit rate?

A perfect solution for me would be to use HandBrake, which has extended settings as well as batch-encoding. Unfortunately it doesn’t currently offer VP8 output (it has H.264/x264, MPEG-4 FFmpeg, MPEG-2 FFmpeg and VP3 Theora).

The professional compression tools I could get access to (Apple’s Compressor, Adobe’s Media Converter) don’t offer WebM output.

Regarding the freely available front-ends that I tested:

  • Miro Converter for OSX doesn’t offer any settings at all, it doesn’t even allow to define the frame size or the bit rate.
  • The Firefogg extension for Firefox provides the basic settings, but doesn’t offer batch encoding, and doesn’t provide a way to store custom settings for later use.
  • There’s a QuickTime component for OSX, but it doesn’t seem to be maintained: http://code.google.com/p/webm/downloads/list (last update in December 2010)

Are there any new developments that I have been missing, or is there currently no GUI-based way for videographers on the Mac to encode a library of videos into high quality WebM?

Cheers,
Manuel

Update: I got a reply by Ryan Thompson, author of the WebM QuickTime Components, who says “I haven’t really been putting much into maintenance as I haven’t got any bug reports”. Hmm… I guess this means that nobody has actually attempted to use it. Not a very good sign for the success of that format.

Update (Sept 28): I just came across this mailing-list thread about a web video standard: “there are efforts underway by several groups to produce a next-generation, royalty-free (RF) video codec, including VPnext by Google and Daala by Mozilla/Xiph.Org. While far from complete, we hope that these can become the backbone of a truly universally deployable, interactive video codec standard that is competitive with royalty-bearing offerings.” What is promising is that this project comes from the working group who recently managed to get the Opus audio codec standardized by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Update (Nov 12): The newest version of Miro Video Converter (3.0) has some more settings: we can now define the format (width/height) of the encodings, hooray! (but not the bitrate).

News: Projects

News: Tech & Code

News: Other