Tuesday, June 09, 2015

FFmpeg's FFV1 lossless video codec: A Free Software success story

FFmpeg's FFV1 lossless video codec: A Free Software success story. Peter Bubestinger. 9 May, 2015. Published 2 June 2015.
The Österreichische Mediathek wanted to digitize video for long-term preservation and looked at the options. For audio formats they used uncompressed /lossless PCM (WAV). They expected to apply the same requirements to video, but uncompressed video was not an option because the file size was too large.Majority of the institutions preserving video use lossy codecs:
  • IMX, ProRes, MPEG-2, MPEG-4
  • Industry proposed format:  JPEG2000-lossless/PCM in MXF
They looked at FFV1 as a preservation codec (it originated as FFmpeg), and started using it in house in 2011, and began working with the implementation:
  • Double checked FFV1's long-term sustainability
  • Tested its implementation
  • Documented its usage
  • Organized and funded improvement
They solved their problem of digitizing and archiving video and the resulting solution is free to use. 
The  FFV1 Video Codec Specification by Michael Niedermayer.

Lessons learned:
  • User perception is of great importance
  • Provide graphical tools
  • No one wants to be the first to try something out
  • The look of a website is important. A "cheap looking website" gives an impression of a low quality product
  • Provide documentation
  • Make access easy
  • Provide option of paid setup and support

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