Sunday, July 03, 2011

Why I hate video: Format, codecs, DRM and m4v vs mp4

My version of iMovie exports (09), by default, .m4v. (emphases mine)

The M4V file format is a video file format developed by Apple and is very close to MP4 format. The differences are the optional Apple's DRM copyright protection, and the treatment of AC3 (Dolby Digital) audio which is not standardized for MP4 container.

Google's Picasa service doesn't support .m4v ...

Video Upload Requirements : Video - Picasa Help:

... Uploadable Video File Types .3gp, .avi, .asf, .mov, .wmv, .mpg, .mp4, .m2t, .mmv, .m2ts ...

Neither does YouTube ...

Supported YouTube file formats - YouTube Help

WebM files - Vp8 video codec and Vorbis Audio codecs

.MPEG4, 3GPP and MOV files - Typically supporting h264, mpeg4 video codecs, and AAC audio codec

.AVI - Many cameras output this format - typically the video codec is MJPEG and audio is PCM

.MPEGPS - Typically supporting MPEG2 video codec and MP2 audio


.FLV - Adobe-FLV1 video codec, MP3 audio

Heavens, but I do hate video data standard issues.

It's the patents, it's the DRM, and above all, it's Apple. Data formats and DRM are at the core of Apple's great flaw -- a deep addiction to data lock [1].

[1] Pro video customers of Apple's Final Cut Pro are learning all about what Apple's data lock means.

Update 7/5/11: Two wikipedia articles on Apple's ProRes 422 and ProRes 4444 and these additional articles help capture the full horror of the 2011 state of video codecs -- and the complexity of the video editing workflow. There is nothing analogous to JPEG or even JPEG 2000. See also ...

FCP X didn't add anything new to ProRes (mercifully). It will do "native editing" on h.264, which sounds interesting.


KimH said...

>>> Pro video customers of Apple's Final Cut Pro are learning all about what Apple's data lock means.<<<

I find this to be pretty much backwards. For years, FCP drove standards for interchangeability in affordable NLE software. Paradoxically, many pros are picking up their "data" from old FCP projects, and carrying it to Adobe software, which does a reasonable job of reading them in- as opposed to FCPx. Not exactly what I'd call "data lock."

FCP's portability is enabling the greatest exodus ever from FCP to competing software.

JGF said...

I admit, I was influenced more by my experience with Aperture and iPhoto. Strange to think of Apple as setting an open standard -- I wonder if that was inadvertent.

Why do you think Apple is refusing to develop import tools for FCP projects? Do you think they might expose how much isn't ready?

Dan Swift said...

I've always hated the way exporting works in iMovie. I've always saved as full quality (I have HD and '08 ... not sure about '09) and then dropped the file into VLC, Handbrake, etc. for transcoding.

JGF said...

I wonder if I should abstain from video editing until FCP X settles down, then spend the big money for that one.

iMovie feels like a dangerous toy. Dangerous because it almost works, but it may consign a lot of memories to the ether.

ANNIE said...

Just Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats.