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Tip #1435: What Is WebM

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

WebM is supported by Mozilla, Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome and, soon, Safari.

The WEbM logo

Topic $TipTopic

Developed and owned by Google, WebM is, according to the WebM website: “an open, royalty-free, media file format designed for the web. WebM defines the file container structure, video and audio formats. WebM files consist of video streams compressed with the VP8 or VP9 video codecs and audio streams compressed with the Vorbis or Opus audio codecs.”

Serving video on the web is different from traditional broadcast and offline mediums. Existing video formats were designed to serve the needs of these mediums and do it very well. WebM is focused on addressing the unique needs of serving video on the web.

  • Low computational footprint to enable playback on any device, including low-power netbooks, handhelds, tablets, etc.
  • Simple container format
  • Highest quality real-time video delivery
  • Click and encode. Minimal codec profiles and sub-options. When possible, let the encoder make the tough choices.

WebM has a sister project WebP for images. The development of the format is sponsored by Google, and the corresponding software is distributed under a BSD license. There is some dispute, however, if WebM is truly royalty-free.

According to Wikipedia, native WebM support by Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Google Chrome was announced at the 2010 Google I/O conference. Internet Explorer 9 requires third-party WebM software. Safari for macOS, which relied on QuickTime to play web media until Safari 12. However, Safari in Big Sur 11.3 beta 2 has native support for WebM. While iOS does not natively play WebM, Android does.

VLC media player, MPlayer, K-Multimedia Player, JRiver Media Center and ffMPEG also support playing WebM files .

Here’s a Wikipedia link to learn more.


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Tip #1436: Safari to Support WebM on Macs

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

WebM is optimized for web streaming.

The WebM logo.

Topic $TipTopic

According to reports on MacRumors and other sites, beta versions of macOS Big Sur 11.3 support playing WebM videos in Safari.

MacRumors reports: “In Safari, there’s support for WebM video playback, allowing users to play WebM videos using Apple’s browser. WebM is a niche video format designed to be a royalty-free alternative to the H.264 codec used in the MP4 format. WebM allows video files to remain small without sacrificing quality and can be played with little processing power, making it ideal for webpages and browsers.”

Link: MacRumors.com.

WebM was first released in 2010. Apple Safari was the lone holdout among major browsers in supporting this format. There’s no announced date for when macOS 11.3 will be released, nor any indication if WebM will be supported by Apple’s media applications.

Learn more about WebM in Tip #1435.


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Tip #1437: What are Vorbis or Opus Codecs?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Both codecs support high-quality streaming audio.

The Vorbis (top) and Opus logos.

Topic $TipTopic

WebM is a container format that uses VP8 or VP9 codecs for video and Vorbis or Opus codecs for audio. So, what are these audio codecs?

VORBIS

Developed by Xiph.org, Ogg Vorbis is a fully open, non-proprietary, patent-and-royalty-free, general-purpose compressed audio format for mid to high quality (8kHz-48.0kHz, 16+ bit, polyphonic) audio and music at fixed and variable bitrates from 16 to 128 kbps/channel. This places Vorbis in the same competitive class as audio representations such as MPEG-4 (AAC), and similar to, but higher performance than MPEG-1/2 audio layer 3, MPEG-4 audio (TwinVQ), WMA and PAC.

The bitstream format for Vorbis I was frozen Monday, May 8th 2000. All bitstreams encoded since will remain compatible with all future releases of Vorbis.

Link: https://xiph.org/vorbis/faq/

OPUS

Developed by opus-codec.org, Opus is a totally open, royalty-free, highly versatile audio codec. Opus is unmatched for interactive speech and music transmission over the Internet, but is also intended for storage and streaming applications. It is standardized by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) as RFC 6716 which incorporated technology from Skype’s SILK codec and Xiph.Org’s CELT codec.

Link: https://opus-codec.org


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Tip #1430: Who Supports Blackmagic RAW

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

BMD RAW files are now supported by Resolve, Premiere and Media Composer.

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro

Topic $TipTopic

Last week, Blackmagic Design released the latest iteration of their smallest camera: The Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro. The camera supports only two codecs: Blackmagic RAW and ProRes. Who else supports BMD RAW?

Link: Technical Specifications

Blackmagic describes the BMD RAW codec this way: “Blackmagic RAW is a revolutionary new and very modern codec that’s easier to use and much better quality than popular video formats, but with all the benefits of RAW recording. Featuring multiple new technologies, such as a new advanced de-mosaic algorithm, Blackmagic RAW gives you visually lossless images that are ideal for high resolution, high frame rate and high dynamic range workflows. Incredible image quality, extensive metadata support and highly optimized GPU and CPU accelerated processing make Blackmagic RAW the world’s first codec that can be used for acquisition, post production and finishing. Blackmagic RAW is a totally new design, plus it’s cross platform, freely available and includes a developer SDK so anyone can add support for Blackmagic RAW to their own software.”

So, which software supports Blackmagic RAW?

  • Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve
  • Avid Media Composer
  • Adobe Premiere Pro

So far, though, the only cameras that shoot Blackmagic RAW are from Blackmagic Design.

NOTE: If other NLEs have announced support, please add a mention in the Comments.


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Tip #1431: Editing ProRes RAW in DaVinci Resolve

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Converting ProRes RAW to ProRes 4444 allows Resolve to edit the media.

The ProRes RAW logo.

Topic $TipTopic

ProRes RAW is a very popular codec that provides the highest-possible image quality in the smallest possible (but not actually very small) file size.

ProRes RAW can be edited in:

  • Final Cut Pro
  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Avid Media Composer

But not DaVinci Resolve. However, there’s a workaround, as reported by Charles Hull on the BMD forum:

“I’m sure this has been discussed here, but there is a very simple work-around for running ProRes RAW in Resolve. When I first heard about it I thought it was too much hassle, and might not work well anyway, so I continued with FCPX for ProRes RAW. So the work-around is to transcode ProRes RAW to ProRes 4444. ProRes RAW is 12 bits, and ProRes 4444 is 12 image bits, so it is a good fit, and it runs well in Resolve. The simple and painless way to do this is to import all the clips into Compressor and bulk export them to ProRes 4444.

“I’ve been shooting ProRes RAW since it first came out. I do mostly HDR, and get very good results with ProRes RAW and Resolve. Coincidently just ordered the Panasonic S1H and was happy to see it will have ProRes RAW via the Atomos NinjaV. I know how to handle this.”


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Tip #1433: Uncompressed vs. Raw vs. Log Video

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Not all cameras shoot all formats. Here’s how to choose.

Image courtesy of Bruno Massao from Pexels.com

Topic $TipTopic

This article, written by Andy Shipsides, first appeared in HDVideoPro.com. This is a summary.

NOTE: Andy is the Chief Technology Officer for video rental house: AbleCine.

With so many cameras these days offering different recording options, combined with the popularity of external recorders, it’s no wonder there are a lot of questions about this topic.

To really answer the question, and to understand the difference between all of these formats, we need a little bit of background. ARRI’s ALEXA camera is unique in that it can output raw, uncompressed and record in a Log format, so I’ll use that camera as an example throughout this discussion. Let’s start with raw, which comes first for many reasons.

So what is raw anyway? Simply put, it’s just sensor data before any image processing. In a single-sensor camera, like the ALEXA, color is produced by filtering each photosite (or pixel) to produce either red, green or blue values. The color pattern of the photosites most often used is the Bayer pattern, invented by Dr. Bryce E. Bayer at Kodak. The raw data in a camera like this represents the value of each photosite. Because each pixel contains only one color value, raw isn’t viewable on a monitor in any discernible way. In a video signal that we can see on a monitor, each pixel contains full color and brightness information; video can tell each pixel on a monitor how bright to be and what color. This means that raw isn’t video. Raw has to be converted to video for viewing and use.

NOTE: The “Debayering process” converts image data into video for viewing.

Raw data isn’t necessarily uncompressed. In fact, it’s usually compressed. The RED cameras shoot in REDCODE, which has compression options from 3:1 to 18:1. Likewise, Sony’s F65 has 3:1 and 6:1 compression options in F65RAW mode. The raw data is compressed in much the same ways that traditional video is compressed, and the process does have some effect on image quality.

Raw data is usually at high bit depth, between 12- and 16-bit, but video is usually around 8- or 10-bit. In RGB (4:4:4) video, each pixel contains color and brightness information, which would be rather large with 16-bit depth. So, video is generally reduced in bit depth. Additionally, color information is generally reduced as well, from 4:4:4 to 4:2:2. These are both forms of compression that happen in the camera, even before recording. A standard for HD-SDI output on a professional camera is considered to be uncompressed; however, the specification for a single HD-SDI output in a 1920×1080 resolution is 10-bit 4:2:2.

Many cameras, including those from Sony, Canon, RED and ARRI cameras have a Log recording mode. When the Log modes are activated, the image becomes flat and desaturated, but you can still see it on a monitor. This should clue you in that Log recording is just standard video recording in the sense that all pixels display color and brightness information. Log isn’t raw; it’s video. However, it’s a special way of capturing that maximizes the tonal range of a sensor.

Raw is not Log because Log is in a video format, and raw is not video. Raw data has no video processing baked in and has to be converted into video for viewing. Log is video and has things like white balance baked into it. They’re very much not the same; however, they’re both designed to get the most information out of the sensor. Raw is getting everything the sensor has to offer; likewise, Log curves are designed to get the most tonal range out of the sensor. While they’re very different formats, they have the same general application. Both raw and Log can be uncompressed, but that depends on the recording device.


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Tip #1411: With H.264, the Profile Makes a Big Difference

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

When in doubt, compress using the High profile.

The AVC/H.264 logo.

Topic $TipTopic

Key to compressing a file into the H.264 codec is the Profile. These profiles determine the quality and format of the compressed file.

Apple Compressor, Adobe Media Encoder, Handbrake and other compression programs provide different profile options, which make a surprising amount of difference when you encode your media.

This software provides up to four options when choosing a profile:

  • Baseline
  • Main
  • High
  • High-10

NOTE: The H.264 spec defines 25 different profiles!, most of which require special software to access.

  • Baseline. This profile is principally used for low-bandwidth video conferencing and mobile apps.
  • Main. This profile is used for standard-definition TV. It should NOT be used for HD.
  • High. This profile is particularly designed for HD video, as well as Blu-ray Disc. It should also be used for any media you plan to archive.
  • High-10. This does everything the High profile does, plus adds support for 10-bit 4:2:2 media, which is required for HLG HDR.

Neither Compressor nor Handbrake support High-10. Adobe Media Encoder supports all four of the profiles listed here.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s the Wikipedia article I used to learn more.


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Tip #1408: A Quick History of HEVC

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

HEVC was designed to create smaller files, with quality equal to H.264.

The HEVC logo.

Topic $TipTopic

I got into a conversation with Birdie about the uses of HEVC, which lead me into doing some more research.

In an earlier article, I wrote that HEVC was invented to decrease the load on cell networks, which was what I was told at the time. However, in reading Wikipedia, the initial development work for HEVC was done by NHK (a Japanese broadcaster) and Mitsubishi Electric (a consumer electronics manufacturer).

The work was started in 2004 to find a way to improve H.264 to support larger frame sizes than 4K and the greater grayscale and color range of HDR. A further goal was to cut files sizes by 50% while maintaining image quality equal to H.264. The tradeoff, though, was a more complex encoding/decoding process.

After several years of research, formal work on a spec began in January, 2010, with a request for proposals. 27 different proposals were submitted.

The standard was formally published by the ITU-T on June 7, 2013. Since then, it has been modified/upgraded five times, the last being version 4 on Dec. 22, 2016.

More than 12,000 patents are involved in this codec, in fact the MPEG LA HEVC patent list is 164 pages long! Making the roll-out more difficult was that several patent holders couldn’t agree on a royalty stream, so manufacturers were required to license from two different patent holding groups, with significantly different pricing, and unit sales requirements.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s a Wikipedia article to learn more.


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Tip #1409: Does H.264 support HDR?

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

When in doubt, encode H.264 media using the High profile.

The AVC/H.264 logo.

Topic $TipTopic

I’ve said for years that H.264 is a limited codec – it doesn’t support frame sizes beyond 4K nor bit depths greater than 8-bit. But, recently I started wondering whether those statements are still true. So, I went to Wikipedia (linked below) to learn more.

H.264’s official name is AVC (for Advanced Video Codec). It is the most popular format for recording, compression and distribution in the world. (HEVC is #2.)

The H.264 standard can be viewed as a “family of standards” composed of a number of different profiles, although its “High profile” is by far the mostly commonly used format.

H.264 is the most commonly used format for Blu-ray Discs, where it is one of the three mandatory video compression formats.

According to Wikipedia, H.264 supports:

  • Frame sizes up to 8K, depending upon profile.
  • YUV 422 and 4:4:4 color sampling, depending upon profile
  • Stereoscopic 3D video
  • Depth maps
  • HLG HDR, provided the High-10 profile is used.

Color sampling and bit-depth support are determined by the profile used when encoding a file.

  • The High Profile, which is the most commonly used format, supports up to 4K images with 8-bit depth.
  • The High-10 profile supports 10-bit depth media, but not all software offers this option.
  • Only the High 4:4:4 Predictive Profile supports color sampling beyond 4:2:2 and bit-depths greater than 10-bit.

So, the answer to the question: “Does H.264 support HDR?” the answer is:

  • No, if you are using any of the H.264 profiles in Apple Compressor or Handbrake.
  • Yes, but only if you use the High10 profile in Adobe Media Encoder.

EXTRA CREDIT

Here’s the Wikipedia article I used to learn more.


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Tip #1393: LTO 9 – Coming Soon!

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

LTO 9: 18 TB storage per tape, coming in the first half of 2021.

The official LTO roadmap. LTO 9 is not yet shipping.

Topic $TipTopic

LTO 9, the latest tape-based archiving standard, should see shipping units arrive in the first half of 2021.

For this generation, the LTO Program has balanced the cost and benefit of new technology by offering an 18 TB tape cartridge to address the current market for storage space. This represents a 50% increase in capacity over LTO–8, but a 1400% increase over LTO–5 technology launched a decade ago.

LTO generation 9 specifications include previously introduced features, such as multi–layer security support via hardware–based encryption, WORM (Write–Once, Read–Many) functionality and support for Linear Tape File System (LTFS). The new LTO generation 9 specifications include full backward read and write compatibility with LTO generation 8 cartridges. These features help LTO tape maintain its unique position of a powerful, scalable, and adaptable open tape storage format that can provide more confidence for safe and secured offline storage, particularly in helping to prevent the impact of increasing cyberattacks.

For media creators with massive media files, hard disks and cloud storage can quickly become very expensive. LTO, by archiving to tape that can last up to 30 years, provides a lower-cost way to preserve assets for the long-term.

Learn more – LTO.org.


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