Tip #1435: What Is WebM

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1435: What Is WebM

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

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

The WEbM logo

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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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3 replies
  1. Bernard Tagholm
    Bernard Tagholm says:

    Is or will WebM creation be supported in FCP or Premiere? If not, what tools are available for WebM creation?

    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:


      Though the codec has been out for a while, support for it is limited to browser. Apple Final Cut and Adobe Premiere do not support it directly. ffMPEG does, but Handbrake, which uses ffMPEG does not seem to. VLC plays the file, but I haven’t found something that creates it yet.



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