Lib-Ray: The ‘Open Version’ of High-Definition Video

“About a year ago I started looking into options for releasing high definition, high quality video in fixed media format for a free culture project that I’m working on.

There weren’t really good options, so I decided to go ahead and create a standard, and that became ‘Lib-Ray’.”

Says Terry Hancock, the founder of the royalty-free, open source, HD Video standard, “Lib-Ray”. It, unlike with the popular “Blu-Ray”, doesn’t come with any encryptied content, free of patent license issues, no region codes, without any of those so called “digital right management features” (such as DRM). Basically, “No limitations or Secrets”, says on its home page.

It’s true that, open source world have alternative ones competing with the proprietary formats such as Ogg Vorbis for MP3 and Theora for low-res video formats such as MPEG-4 etc. And in some cases, the open source formats even outperform the proprietary.

But they (proprietary ones) still dominate the multimedia world, mostly due to the philosophical differences between “Free Software” (closely followed by “Open Source”)  and the “proprietary” parties, where investors usually become quite hesitant while supporting or using “Free Software” in general (well, they have their reasons).

So, perhaps because of that, Terry says …

“Now I don’t expect to replace Blu-Ray. I know that for the mainstream media, Blu-Ray has pretty much won the high-definition battle …”

So why create one then?

Again, to quote him …

” But I think, it is possible to make Lib-Ray into a niche format that serves the community of ‘Free culture’ file makers, independent file makers and their fans …”


File formats used in “Lib-Ray” …

The Lib-Ray standard consists of:

1. VP8 (BSD Licensed, now owned and funded by Google, also used in YouTube) is the video codec and the video playback is done via “Gstreamer” (open source multimedia framework).

Supports the following resolutions: 720×480 (SD), 1280×720 (720p), 1920×1080 (1080p), 4096×2048 (4K/”Digital Cinema”).

2. FLAC (GNU GPL and BSD licenses) is the default lossless audio format. Though for online video content, it might support Ogg Vorbis too (BSD Style license) for reducing the file size.

3. The menus are created using HTML and are rendered using WebKit (plus Java-Script will also be used).

4. The container format (a software “container” that holds audio/video/subtitles in a single file format) is MKV (aka “Matroska“, licensed under LGPL and BSD).

5. And unlike with Blu-Ray, where it’s distributed using optical discs, Lib-Ray will be using SDHC flash media by default.

He says that, it’s hard to make a quality comparison between “VP8” and “h.264” (the video codec used in Blu-Ray). But when comparing with the MPEG2 codec (used in DVDs), VP8 compresses (encodes) videos so well that some of the HD videos have superior quality over the low-res DVD ones and are even smaller in size too.

But then again, MPEG2 is not optimized for HD videos and is an old codec. So it’s not really fare to compare the two.

Anyhow, though the project is far from being completed, he says that there will be an easy to use “wizard-type” utility that lets you put together a Lib-Ray multimedia file in the future.

If interested, you can learn more and get latest news updates from this “Lib-Ray” home page and over here @ Freesoftwaremagazine as Terry is a guest writer there as well.

An RHCE, 'Linux' user with 14+ years of experience. Extreme lover of Linux and FOSS. He is passionate to test every Linux distribution & compare with the previous release to write in-depth articles to help the FOSS community.

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