Have you ever been stuck with a video file that does not play in any of your video players or the Web Browser? It happens frequently because the media technology landscape is still a very fragmented one where a lot of energy is put into the creation of proprietary compression technologies. But the consumer is unwilling to follow every new encoding format and to pay for codecs which he/she may only need for this one file.
Just as the use of free and unencumbered text encoding formats (ASCII, UTF-8) is a prerequisite to the development of novel applications and an enabler of email, the Web, and many other common applications, free video and audio formats enable the creation of novel applications with media.
Free and unencumbered codecs are starting to become mature. The codecs from Xiph.org cover audio (Vorbis, Speex, FLAC) and video (Theora) are readily available and supported on many platforms. The BBC’s next-generation video codec called Dirac is still in the labs, but is one of the few cutting-edge codecs built on Wevelets, a novel transform that promises higher compression rates with less artefacts – and it is free and unencumbered.
However, the availability of codecs is not all that matters. Audio-visual applications that make use of these codecs need to be developed, too. Applications such as video editors, desktop audio/video players, Webbrowser embedded players, and streaming technology are fundamental to enable the full production-to-publishing chain. And then there are the higher-level applications such as playlist and collections manager (iTunes-like), video Web hosting, video search, or Internet video conferencing applications which provide the real value to people.
Foundations of Open Media Software is the first conference ever to bring together the architects of open media software systems from around the world to address technical issues and further the development of a open media ecology where the focus is on the development of new high-value applications rather than a tiring and unproductive competition of formats.
FOMS furthers the development of media technology on Linux, addresses support of open media codecs across platforms, and works towards the creation of an ecosystem of rich media applications.
The principles of creative commons content around a free exchange of ideas through digital media requires adequate licenses to be attached to media files, which in turn will only work in an environment where the media formats of such content is unrestricted and unencumbered, too.
Foundations of Open Media Software takes place in Sydney, Australia 11th-12th January 2007. Since it is a conference organised by developers for developers, donations are highly welcome. There are also some spaces for professional delegates available still. Details are at http://www.annodex.org/events/foms2007/ .