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Media Software Linux

An Interview With the Developers of FFmpeg 80

An anonymous reader writes "Following the long-awaited release of FFmpeg 0.5, Phoronix has conducted an interview with three FFmpeg developers (Diego Biurrun, Baptiste Coudurier, and Robert Swain) about this project's recent release. In this interview they talk about moving to a 3/6-month release cycle, the criteria for version 1.0, Blu-Ray support on Linux, OpenCL and GPGPU acceleration, multi-threading FFmpeg, video APIs, their own video codecs, and legal challenges they have run into."
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An Interview With the Developers of FFmpeg

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  • Re:Long Awaited? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Klaus_1250 ( 987230 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @12:59PM (#27182683)

    Define "Long" and who was waiting for something that is still ".5" beta?

    It is not in "beta", it is production quality. The fact that it is 0.5 indicates that it is not complete and perfect yet.

    Oh, it is just another CODEC library.

    It is not "just another", it is the most important and most used open-source codec library

  • Re:Whither Google? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13, 2009 @12:59PM (#27182689)

    google has actually helped out a ton for ffmpeg

    google is why ffmpeg can now decode wmv3 and real codecs (rv3/4).
    more info and list of projects: []

  • Re:Long Awaited? (Score:4, Informative)

    by FellowConspirator ( 882908 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:20PM (#27182991)

    Saying FFMPEG is just a codec library is like saying a Ferrari is a shiny surface for adhering horsie stickers to.

    The distinguishing features of FFMPEG are that it's cross-platform (many commercial Windows and Mac apps use it under the hood), it's astonishingly fast at transcoding, has very broad codec AND container support, is fairly simple yet has a very rich set of advanced features.

    What other tool are you going to use to convert your AutoDesk Animator video library to Flash video and animated gifs?

  • Re:Long Awaited? (Score:4, Informative)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:39PM (#27183275) Homepage Journal

    mplayer != ffmpeg. a "codec library" == the bassis for a countless number of media player and transcoding projects. I do not think these words mean what you think they mean. ffmpeg is primarily a codec. Encoder, and decoder. You might more accurately say it is a codec package because it provides the ffmpeg program (and others) and a collection of libraries (libavcodec, libavformat...) The package also provides a player, muxer, and a streamer; the player is ffplay, not mplayer.

  • Re:Long Awaited? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:39PM (#27183291) Homepage

    Right. What is FFMPEG? It's basically a package that allows you to convert from almost any audio or video file format to almost any audio or video file format. Not only that, but it's the audio/video converter that pretty much every other (excluding in-house proprietary) converters and players are based on. It's important.

    As to why we care about a 0.5 release, FFMPEG has been around for years, but to my knowledge has not had "releases". There is the latest build, and that's it. The idea of having a stable "release" build is news in itself, whatever number you associate to it.

    Yes, there's still a lot to do, so the 0.5 version number is probably warranted. For one thing, there are still a few formats out there that FFMPEG doesn't fully support, and not all of those that they support seem to have been optimized well enough for output quality IMO. However, it's amazing how much they've accomplished already. Life would be so much harder if not for these guys' work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13, 2009 @01:46PM (#27183379)

    hall of shame []

  • Re:Legal Issues? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 13, 2009 @04:25PM (#27185689)

    The "official" answers to that are here:
    And no, I don't think you will find them useful, a lawyer is the right place to get legal advice.

  • Re:Legal Issues? (Score:3, Informative)

    by LackThereof ( 916566 ) on Friday March 13, 2009 @06:18PM (#27187281)

    From the FFMPEG website:

    Patent Mini-FAQ

    A lot of legal questions surrounding patents arise when discussing multimedia technology. This mini-FAQ attempts to address these issues. Note that much of this discussion is based on precedent, or what has happened in the past under similar circumstances. Very little consideration is given to what could happen. If you use your imagination, you can visualize any dire scenario and cease doing any productive work.

    Q: Does FFmpeg use patented algorithms?
    A: We do not know, we are not lawyers so we are not qualified to answer this. Also we have never read patents to implement any part of FFmpeg, so even if we were qualified we could not answer it as we do not know what is patented. Furthermore the sheer number of software patents makes it impossible to read them all so no one (lawyer or not) could answer such a question with a definite no, those who do lie. What we do know is that various standards FFmpeg supports contain vague hints that any conforming implementation might be subject to some patent rights in some jurisdictions, examples for such statements are:
    For H.264:

    ITU draws attention to the possibility that the practice or implementation of this Recommendation may involve the use of a claimed Intellectual Property Right. ITU takes no position concerning the evidence, validity or applicability of claimed Intellectual Property Rights, whether asserted by ITU members or others outside of the Recommendation development process.

    And for MPEG-4:

    The user's attention is called to the possibility that, for some of the processes specified in this part of ISO/IEC 14496, conformance with this specification may require use of an invention covered by patent rights. By publication of this part of ISO/IEC 14496, no position is taken with respect to the validity of this claim or of any patent rights in connection therewith.

    Q: Is it legal to use such patented algorithms?
    A: Patent laws change wildly between jurisdictions. Besides, even in places where software patents are recognized, there is serious doubt about the legitimacy of such legislation. Note that patents on algorithms are illegal in many countries. Plus the use of patents to prevent the usage of a format or codec on a specific operating system or together with specific other software might violate antitrust laws.

    Q: Bottom line: Should I be worried about patent issues if I use FFmpeg?
    A: Are you a private user working with FFmpeg for your own personal purposes? If so, there is remarkably little reason to be concerned. Are you using FFmpeg in a commercial software product? Read on to the next question...

    Q: Since FFmpeg is licensed under the LGPL, is it perfectly alright to incorporate the whole FFmpeg core into my own commercial product?
    A: You might have a problem here. Sure, the LGPL allows you to incorporate the code. However, there have been cases where companies have used FFmpeg in their projects, usually for such capabilities as superior MPEG-4 decoding. These companies found out that once you start trying to make money from certain technologies, the alleged owners of the technologies will come after their protection money. Most notably, MPEG-LA (licensing authority) is vigilant and diligent about collecting for MPEG-related technologies.

    Q: You called the patent license fee protection money, is this a joke?
    A: No. The legal validity of these patents is highly questionable. Still in many current legal systems it is very easy to ruin a company with patents even if the patents are invalid. Paying the (small) license fee is much cheaper than a patent lawsuit during which you would not be able to sell your product as the patent would be valid until you win the lawsuit 5+ years in the future. That is assuming you did not go bankrupt in the meantime...

    Q: Can I be safe if I have paid my protection money.
    A: You can never be safe as long as your country recognizes

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 14, 2009 @06:57AM (#27191383)

    -O3 and -funroll-loops are likely to increase code size, and thus increase cache pressure. Particularly for H.264 this in our limited experience is more likely to slow things down that speed them up. Generally it is a bad idea to "speed-optimize" without benchmarking.

As Will Rogers would have said, "There is no such things as a free variable."