Google v. Apple: Your VP8 Codec Essential Reading List

So Google spent some money, bought On2, and is now trying to make VP8 video technology available on a royalty-free basis. This is being reported in all kinds of ways, but wait just a moment before getting too gleamy at the shiny and the new. Here’s your VP8 essential reading list. Please comment your thoughts below.

a. Primer
How video compression works
“In this article, we explain the operation and characteristics of video codecs and the demands codecs make on processors. We also explain how codecs differ from one another and the significance of these differences.”

1. Essential: Diary Of An x264 Developer
This is the most in-depth detailed investigation of the VP8 spec. It says lots, it suggests there may be some patent suits pending before Google’s royalty-free claim comes true.

2. General description of VP8
“On2 VP8 offers significant gains in compression performance in a bitstream that is less compute intensive to decode than either its predecessor (VP7) or other competing technologies such as H.264.”
((On reading 1/ not so sure of that last claim)).

3. Apple’s video codec patent battle warning
“All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other ‘open source’ codecs…”
Game not over?

4. Good Computerworld blog pre-Google announcement
Good quote: “Given the way the patent system works, it is foolish to think that any new video codec will not be patent-encumbered. The only real question is, do you have an idea of what the encumbrances are, or not? With H.264, you have a good idea of this, with Ogg Theora or VP8, you do not. Remember, “green-field” programming without knowledge of a patent does not save you from being patent encumbered, if you should reinvent a patented wheel. Also remember that we do not know how green-field On2 Technologies was in their programming practice. It is quite possible that even Google doesn’t know how encumbered VP8 may be – like the rest of us, they will simply have to wait and find out.”

5. And back in the olden days…
Then QuickTime head honcho, Frank Casanova talks up QuickTime. Thinking back, he knew so much more about ‘the project’ than he was able to say. I could hear it in his voice. Insight is always more powerful in the past tense.

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