Theora Video with Flash Fall Back

July 11th, 2009 by heathenx

By now some of you have read the news that W3C has dropped the specification of OGG Theora in the HTML5 video tag. I was a little disappointed by this because I thought Theora was a safe bet. It is free (patents/licensing) in comparison to H.264 no matter how Apple tries to convince us otherwise. Of course, in typical fashion, we got this news right after Richard and I switched formats from Avi, which had H.264 inside of the container, to Theora. [sarcasm] Awesome! [sarcasm]

Nevertheless, Richard and I are committed to Theora. Ain’t no goin’ back now. Avi’s served us well because of the container. It’s easy to put video and audio inside of it and there are plenty of video applications that work well with that container. I wouldn’t go as far as saying the Avi container is my favorite but it is popular (think xvid). If you have been with us since the beginning then you’ll remember that we started out using xvid until we noticed the quality of H.264 and switched to it.

We chose Flash as our online viewing format for pretty obvious reasons. Whether you like it or not Flash is everywhere and by now most people are accustomed to installing the Flash browser plugin so they can watch those cute squirrels water skiing on YouTube. However, for every good argument in favor of Flash, there is a good argument opposed to it. Personally, I don’t have a problem with Flash. It’s always worked well on all of my machines and 90 percent of those run a Linux distribution. On the other hand, some of my Linux using peers have always had problems with it. This I cannot fully understand because I have always been lucky, I guess. Maybe because I don’t run 64bit distros. I ‘m not here to debate Flash anyway.

The point of this blog post is to make viewers aware of a recent change in our online viewing experience. All of you viewers…have you noticed something different now in your non-HTML5 video tag supported browser? You guessed it. We’re using Flash as our fall-back format. Same format that we have used for the last 2 plus years. Theora will still be there for the Firefox 3.5 brethren so don’t be worried (klaatu). And this means that we’ve kicked that darn Java applet known as Cortado to the curb. I don’t like it. I never did. And it doesn’t work nearly as well as the Theora player in Firefox 3.5 or any Flash player that I have seen. We tried it, it worked somewhat but not so well in Linux. That means failure to us. I applaud the Fluendo people for putting it out there as an option but it could use some attention. 😉

So, we hope this change makes everyone happy. Richard and I will have to encode a second video in Flash format but we’re willing to do this for our viewers. Besides, we were used to it anyway. We’ll continue to do this until Theora gets a little more steam behind it. Perhaps again in the future we can try dropping Flash when browsers make it easy for us to do so. We were close but perhaps we tried a little prematurely. Enjoy. 🙂

5 Responses to “Theora Video with Flash Fall Back”

  1. » Blog Archive » Episode 093 Says:

    […] as how heathenx has figured our way out of the video format mess for the moment (see this), note that Firefox 3.5 users should get a nice streaming ogg file, while others will see a […]

  2. ted Says:

    The .ogg format is great and VLC does a splendid job with it as usual.

    I have yet to try the .ogv version.



  3. Marble Icons Inc. Says:

    I made a comment on one of Richard’s screencasts about problems I was having with playing ogg files on my Mac. Turns out the problem was that darn Cortado applet. I’ve never liked it much either. It always plays ogg files with a buzz to them for me. Anyway, I installed the Xiph Quicktime plugin, and now my browser can play ogg files 😀 I think adding the Flash fallback was a good idea though, just in case new viewers don’t have native support for ogg in their browser.

    Great screencasts btw. Keep up the good work.

  4. heathenx Says:

    Does anyone actually read that page? I revised it just in case. 😉

  5. Utah Web Designer Says:

    That’s some good solid information, thanks for posting it! 🙂