I recently discovered the EU parliament life video stream. But I found that there is no open standard. They only provide WMV and MPEG4. This sounds weird, because the EU ist struggling for year against Microsofts monopoles in different sectors. But when it comes to the coverage of the heart of the EU they depend on Microsoft technology without alternative.
One technology that should be used ist OGG Theora. It would allow everybody, even with free software to watch the debates. It cant be that you are forced to use Windows, just to participate as a citizen of the european union!?
A quote from their website:
What formats are available and why?
Two video formats are available:
- WMV (Windows Media Video)
- MPEG-4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)
These two formats both meet the following requirements:
- Streaming: Each event is broadcast in real time, which requires the use of Streaming. Progressive downloading, often used for broadcasting videos on the web, is not sufficient.
- Multilingualism: Each event is broadcast in all the official languages of the European Union (when interpretation is available).
- Simultaneity: Parliament currently broadcasts up to 6 events simultaneously and will soon be able to broadcast up to 13.
- Multi-bitrate: Each event is broadcast in three different qualities to allow access by the largest possible number of citizens, depending on their internet infrastructure.
But none of these two format meet the requirements that everybody can use them as they are patented. Anybody has an idea how to change policy, so that every Linux user can participate in european democracy. Some organisations already do that, thankfully. I like to point out german Deutschlandfunk
radio who provide a OGG Vorbis Audio stream
for some years now as an alternative to MP3. I dont quite know if it is possible with Theora to meet all the above requirements. But maybe we can find out or work on it and pressure the EU to add Theora as an alternative?
As I wanted to (for the first time) convert an MP4 video to a patent free version with OGG Theora I found that the solutions is simple. There is a command line tool “ffmpeg2theora” for Unix systems. This is part of “OggConvert” and sure is available for many Unix based operating systems.
I started “GNU Screen” from command line which enables me to close the terminal at every point without ending the conversion process. This is often smarter than using some GUI tools which might break more easily. With this process you can even reset your session without stopping the conversion. I then just typed “ffmpeg2theora filename.mp4” and it will produce a file named “filename.ogv”.
What I just describes is no magic at all, but plain and simple.
Again Why Theora?
Because Theora is patent free. So nobody who is watching the file will ever need a license to play it. You should consider using Theora. Firefox 3.5 will support playing it without any plugins! Its the new free video standard of the internet.