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Feature: Open Source

On2 Technologies Open-Sources VP3 video compression code

By JT Smith on September 06, 2001 (8:00:00 AM)

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- By Grant Gross -
As promised, On2 Technologies is Open-Sourcing the code to its VP3 video compression technology as of tonight.

The source code is available tonight at the VP3.com Web site, according to Ed Gillespie, director of corporate communications at On2. The code is released under the VP3.2 Public License, based on the Mozilla Public License. You must register with VP3.com to download the code.

On2 will offer consulting services with the Open Source release of VP3, and the Open Source project looks to be off to a good start with Apple and Real Networks using the technology. On2 announced the Open Source plans about a month ago.

On2, which isn't Open-Sourcing its newest VP4 compression codec, says it is opening up VP3 to drive adoption of it as a video compression standard on multiple platforms. CNet quoted On2 chief executive Douglas McIntyre as saying the VP4 technology is how the company plans to continue to make money.

Gillespie adds: "VP4 was released earlier this year and it's very versatile -- working well over the Internet and set-top boxes alike. We feel VP4 is a couple of years ahead of the current market. VP4 has been licensed by RealNetworks and a couple of other companies, so we wanted to continue to hold on to those opportunities."

But Gillespie hopes VP3 will become the standard for video compression with the Open Source release. "We decided to Open Source the codec in order to promote a true common format that is open, documented and freely available to all," he says. "While MPEG is open, it is also standards-based, license fees are customary, and any changes have to be approved by a board. This can take several months, and technology moves quicker than that ... We want software developers to be comfortable and familiar with the VP family of products."

On2 promotes VP3 as a high-quality video compression technology, at "significantly lower data rates than our competitors," Gillespie says. Over the Internet, VP3 can deliver VHS-quality video at about 200kbps, and the technology can work with RealPlayer, Apple's QuickTime 5.0, and Windows Media Player.

The On2 stable of VP3 products don't include a Linux player, although the beauty of the code being Open Sourced, of course, is that developers can build VP3 tools for Linux or other operating systems, as long as the code is registered and shared, Gillespie says. The Windows and QuickTime versions are open for someone who wants to port the technology to Linux.

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