FOMS 2009 Awesomeness

I am a slacker, I know – sorry. FOMS happened almost 4 weeks ago and I have neither blogged about it nor uploaded the videos.

So, you will have to take my word for it for the moment: it was a totally awesome and effective workshop that led to a lot of work being started during LCA and having an impact far beyond FOMS.

Every year, the discussions we are having at FOMS are captured in so-called community goals. These are activities that we see as top priorities for open media software to be addressed to improve its use and uptake.

You can read up on our 2009 community goals here in detail. They fall into the following 10 sections:

  1. Patent and legal issues around codecs
  2. Ogg in Firefox: liboggplay
  3. Authoring tools for open media codecs
  4. Server Technology for open media
  5. Time-aligned text and accessibility challenges
  6. FFmpeg challenges
  7. GStreamer challenges
  8. Dirac challenges
  9. Jack challenges
  10. OpenMAX challenges

In this post, I’d just like to point out some cool activities that have already emerged since FOMS.

I’ve already written on the patents issue and how OpenMediaNow will hopefully be able to make a difference here.

Liboggplay provides a simple API to decoding and playback of Ogg codecs and is therefore in use for baseline Ogg Theora support in Firefox 3.1. A bunch of bugs were found around it and the opportunity of having Shane Stephens, its original developer, together with Viktor Gal, its new maintainer, in the same room made for a whole lot of bug fixes. The $100K Mozilla grant towards the work of Xiph developers that was announced at FOMS will further help to mature this and other Xiph software. Conrad Parker, Viktor Gal, and Timothy Terriberry, the Xiph developers that will cut code under this grant, were incidentally all present at FOMS.

The discussion about the need for authoring software support for open media codecs is always a difficult one. We all know that it is important to have usable and graphically attractive authoring tools in order to get adoption. However, looking at reality, it is really difficult to design and implement a GUI authoring tool such as a video editor to a competitive quality. In other areas, it has also taken quite some time to gain good authoring software such as e.g. the Gimp or Inkscape. Plus there is the additional need to make it cross-platform. With video, often the underlying editing functionality is missing from media frameworks. Ed Hervey explained how he extended gstreamer with the required subroutines and included them into the gstreamer python plugin, so now he will be able to focus on user interface work in PiTiVi rather than the underlying video editing functionality.

The authoring discussion smoothly led over to the server technology discussion. Robin Garvin explained how he implemented a server-side video editor through EDLs. Michael Dale showed us the latest version of his video editor in the Mediawiki Metavid plugin. And Jan Gerber showed us the Firefogg Firefox plugin for transcoding to Ogg. Web-based tools are certainly the future of video authoring and will make a huge difference in favor of Ogg.

Then there was the accessibility discussions. During FOMS I was in the process of writing up my final report on the Mozilla video accessibility project and it was really important to get input from the FOMS community – in particular from Charles McCathyNevile from Opera, Michael Dale from Metavid/Wikipedia/ and Jan Gerber. In the end we basically agreed that a lot of work still needs to be done and that a standard way of providing srt support into HTML5 through Ogg, but also out-of-band will be a great step forward, though by far not the final one.

The remaining topics were focused discussions on how to improve support, uptake or functionality of specific tools. Peter Ross took FOMS concerns about ffmpeg to the ffmpeg community and it seems there will be some changes, in particular an upcoming ffmpeg release. Ed Hervey took home a request for new API functions for gstreamer. Anuradha Suraparaju talked with Jan Gerber about support of Dirac in firefogg and with Viktor Gal about support in liboggplay. Further, the idea of libfisheye was born to have a similar abstraction library for Ogg video codecs as libfishsound is for Ogg audio codecs.

As can be seen, there are already some awesome outcomes from FOMS 2009. We are looking forward to a FOMS 2010 in Wellington, New Zealand!