Digital Formats & Stds

dec 20 2010

I wondered why Google/YouTube’s processing of moving text/titles added in Windows Live Movie Maker (wlmm), and output to a .wmv file on the pc, was poor in a few respects.  The smooth movements of the rolling, sliding, spinning, and other moving text effects — as viewed in Movie Maker and in RealPlayer after saving as .wmv — got turned into chugga/chugga stall/start or skip appearance.  Yet the audio and video was smooth.  Made me wonder if maybe .wmv wasn’t what Google/YouTube liked best?  Or if my software’s default resolution/frameRate (640×480, 29/sec) or file size or something was the problem?  Or if Google/YouTube was the problem?

Been noticing YouTube streams out as flash video, .flv and allows signed-in downloads of one’s own uploads in ??? format, wondered if maybe it deliberately discourages .wmv (Google vs. Microsoft, as in IE vs Chrome and other Battle of the Titans little chessmoves) or what?

Anyway, gathering some basic facts to get started:

– mpg3 is mpeg-3, is audio and ISO.  includes prior mpg1 and 2.  mpeg is motion picture experts group, a standards group (the usual standards deal with representatives from the major companies and individual experts serving on committees) that started with audio.

– mpeg4 is mp4, is audio and video, motion picture experts group (mpeg), also ISO (International Standards Organization)

– Quicktime is Apple proprietary

– windows media video, .wmv, is microsoft, proprietary orginally, but submitted a version to a standards group to make it open

– realplayer, realnetworks, rob glaser, multiple proprietary audio and video formats.

– so the mpg/mpeg series of formats are open, while microsoft, apple, and realnetworks/glaser have proprietary solutions.  probably the usual technology story where proprietary stuff innovates and standards consolidate what’s learned a few steps behind the leaders.  with microsoft being somewhere in the middle by giving its wmv to the standards folks.

– so who and what’s .mov and .avi that one often sees?  and who’s .flv?  Adobe?  does macromedia still exist?

– .mov got  directed to quicktime with .mov and .qt.  wiki says apple quicktime made itself a lot like mpeg4, but mpg4 has more international support since it’s an international standard

– wikipedia organizes formats/standards into 4 groups:  video compression (MJPEG · Motion JPEG 2000 · MPEG-1 · MPEG-2 (Part 2) · MPEG-4 (Part 2/ASP · Part 10/AVC) · HEVC and more), audio compression (mpg1,2,3 and more), image compression (jgp, gif, png, tiff, and more), and media container (that’s where avi showed up with mpeg-4 part something and more including 3GP and 3G2 · AVI · Flash Video ·  QuickTime File Format ·RealMedia · RIFF · WAV ).

Flash Video

“Flash Video is a container file format used to deliver video over the Internet using Adobe Flash Player versions 6–10. Flash Video content may also be embedded within SWF files. There are two different video file formats known as Flash Video: FLV and F4V. The audio and video data within FLV files are encoded in the same way as they are within SWF files. The latter F4V file format is based on the ISO base media file format and is supported starting with Flash Player 9 update 3.[1][2] Both formats are supported in Adobe Flash Player and currently developed by Adobe Systems. FLV was originally developed by Macromedia.

The format has quickly established itself as the format of choice for embedded video on the web. Notable users of the Flash Video format include YouTubeHuluGoogle VideoYahoo!, and many other news providers.”

Here’s an interesting tidbit.  Could Google/YouTube be doing to .wmv what BBC is doing to them?

“The standards documentation for BBC Online states that the BBC now preferentially accepts Flash videos for submission, to the disadvantage of other formats previously in use on its sites[3] such as RealVideo or WMV.”

“Flash Video FLV files usually contain material encoded with codecs following the Sorenson Spark or VP6 video compression formats. The most recent public releases of Flash Player (collaboration between Adobe Systems and MainConcept) also support H.264 video and HE-AAC audio.[4] All of these codecs are currently restricted by patents.

Flash Video is”


– looks like RealPlayer/RealNetworks/RobGlaser has played some sort of leading role in all of this, multiple proprietary audio and video formats, products, and services in yet another technology world trying to standardize along behind the leaders doing the bleedingEdge/leadingEdge/TrialAndError innovative work.

Cool backstory.  This politically-aware guy, Rob Glaser, left Microsoft and, in 1995, founded a company, Progressive Networks, to have political activities become more effective with internet technology, especially streaming audio, then video.  He later changed the name to Real Networks.  Cool.


RealNetworks (then known as Progressive Networks) was founded by ex-Microsoft executive Rob Glaser in 1995. The original goal of the company was to provide a distribution channel for politically progressive content. It evolved into a technology venture to leverage the Internetas an alternative distribution medium for audio broadcasts. Progressive Networks became RealNetworks in September 1997.


The first version of RealPlayer was introduced in April 1995 as RealAudio Player, one of the first media players capable of streaming media over the Internet.[2] Version 4.01 of RealPlayer was included as a selectable internet tool in MS Windows 98 installation.[3] Version 6 of RealPlayer was called RealPlayer G2; version 9 was called RealOne Player. Free “Basic” versions have been provided as well as paid “Plus” versions with additional features. On Windows, version 9 subsumed the features of the separate program RealJukebox.

RealPlayer 11 was released for Windows in November 2007, and for Mac OS X in May 2008. Versions of RealPlayer are also available forLinuxUnixPalm OSWindows Mobile, and Symbian OS.[4] The program is powered by an underlying open source media engine calledHelix.[5]

RealPlayer was a popular streaming media player during the early years of the Internet, but in recent years it has been surpassed in market share by Windows Media Player, and, since mid-2007, Apple’s iTunes.[6] Many users would have initially encountered RealPlayer as a plugin to watch streaming video or listen to streaming audio, e.g. the BBC’s websites at one time used this almost exclusively[7], but in recent years Adobe Flash has become a much more popular format for this as demonstrated by the comparable success of BBC iPlayer. As a streaming media player, the number of unique users using RealPlayer has fallen by 50% over the 3 year period from March 2007 to March 2010.[8]


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