The MPEG-LA License Agreement

Google’s recent decision to drop h.264 support from Chrome has scared and infuriated the web! People on both sides are laying down their arguments.

The short version of my stance is I am for it. I think h.264 is set up to make MPEG-LA’s partners a lot of money and I find it scary.

I asked MPEG-LA a while back what was involved in licensing an open source implementation of h.264 (x264/ffmpeg, for example). They were very quick to get back to me and said they’d send me the contract with all the details.

A few days later I got the contract, a beautifully presented document that arrived by Fedex (I would have been happy with a soft copy that would have cost them practically nothing to send).

The document is big – 56 pages long. Here’s a quick photo:

Not sure how many small software developers – or anyone of the many, many people using open source video encoding solutions – have the time or inclination to wade through and agree to a contract like that.

New Versions of MediaCoder No Longer Open Source

In addition to my below post, I was surprised to find the source for the latest version of MediaCoder is not available. Poking around on the forums I found a bunch of people that point out it hasn’t been open source for ages, which I didn’t realise. Articles like this one on their blog – asking for nomination in’s Community Choice Awards – make this a little confusing.

It looks like you can still get the source for old (pre v0.7) versions, so I guess it still qualifies as open source in that regard, but Vic has pointed out MediaCoder is listed on ffmpeg’s Hall of Shame and there’s an ongoing ticket to try and get it removed from SourceForge.

I’ve always loved MediaCoder; it’s an awesome piece of software for video transcoding and takes a lot of the headaches. But really, all it does is provide a nice front-end to a bunch of open source tools and chains them together in a useful way. It seems the developers of MediaCoder have decided they’d rather pursue it as a commercial project now, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens from here.

MediaCoder Removes NeroAAC, tsMuxeR

Noticed today when I loaded MediaCoder to convert some videos to h264 that in the release notes they’re about to remove NeroAAC and tsMuxeR. I always wondered when this would happen as it was a pretty clear license violation of the NeroAAC stuff (at least, from my IANAL point of view).

Presumably it won’t cause any problems, other than making it slightly more of a pain in the ass as you’ll have to download those things seperately. NeroAAC is still available for a free download as long as you’re using it for non-commercial uses, but frustratingly there’s no obvious path to upgrade or license it if you actually do want to use it for a commercial purpose.

Trojan in On2 Flix Pro v8.545? Where da md5s at?!

I just loaded On2 Flix Pro (video conversion software to create Flash videos) and was told there was an update.

The application doesn’t have the smarts to update itself directly, instead sending you to the website to download a zip file containing the new update.

It installed successfully (well, the first attempt failed trying to register itself online to make sure I wasn’t copying it – super annoying DRM ties each install to a particular piece of hardware, making it hard to move between computers), but then when I went to run it I got an AVG error informing me that there was a trojan horse in the file winprojector8.exe – PSW.Ldpinch.VKM to be exact.

I’m fairly confident this is a false positive, but I can’t be sure, because there’s no digital signature or md5 or anything for this file, OR the zip file that I downloaded the application in, OR the self-installing .exe that came out of the zip file.

In case anyone else is running into this error, here are the md5s for each file:

577cbe65ae7f718b365b560e5109773b SetupFlixProPC_8_545.exe
260e655dd577e54cd3a215feb60aa021 winprojector8.exe (the allegedly infected file)

Currently Googling for the md5 of the infected file yields this URL, which indicates a few other applications detect a trojan in this file as well.

I have contacted On2 support (usually I get a response within 24 hours) and await what I hope will just be a ‘false positive’ response.

If they’d published an md5 hash of these files, I wouldn’t need to be worried. But they didn’t, so I am.

If you’re putting a file on the Internet up for download, please always publish a hash of the file – md5sum or sha1sum would be best – so that people can verify that what they think they’re getting is what you want them to be getting.

VC-1 Codec for Windows Server 2003

This seemed to be way harder to find than it should be. There’s a bunch of threads about manual installation of the codec all over the place, including a few on Doom9, but none of them seemed really clear about how to just get the VC-1 codec installed on Windows Server 2003 for playing back/decoding VC-1 content.

After some enterprising Google searches (like “vc-1 codec for windows server 2003”), I finally found this KB article which includes links to x86 and x64 versions of the codec as “hotfixes”. Here’s the links and their md5sums as I downloaded them:

de8a19b41b0d4dbe5e4c243f5d8c273d windowsmedia-kb942423-x86-intl.exe

0af30dbc5f7ec947f5e1f618722c57c1 windowsmedia-kb942423-x64-intl.exe

Adventures in OSS with a Canon HF-10, AVCHD, and Transcoding

We bought a Canon HF-10 video camera in July, mostly to take to E3 to shoot the occasional video. It’s a great camera – small, light, easy to use, nice build quality, SDHC cards, etc.

The software that comes with it – something called ImageMixer 3 SE – is surprisingly not sucky. I mean, it still sucks in the sense that almost all OEM software does, but I was impressed that it supported three export types (DVD-quality MPEG2, iPod-quality h264 MP4, and Youtube). Unfortunately since installing the software my laptop is prone to bluescreen, but I guess that happens.

Sadly, those export options aren’t enough for me – I want more control over the formats.

So, that created the still-ongoing saga of trying to find an path to convert the camera’s native .M2TS or .MTS files into any random format (preferably h264 MPEG-4 for use in a Flash video player) – using open source software.


The first thing I tried was MediaCoder, which I’ve had some success with in the past. It’s under active development by a dude in China and is relatively reliable, updated frequently with the latest versions of things like ffmpeg and x264 – so it can generally read just about anything.

I was further stoked when I read on their blog that it had AVCHD support in a recent update. Unfortunately, try as a I might, I couldn’t get it working (along with just about everyone else). You can read about some of the saga here, but the short version is I could only get it working after reading some random post on the forums with some information about specific settings.

I’ve compiled those settings into a sort-of-working MediaCoder preset profile, which you can download here:

* Download HF-10/AVCHD MediaCoder preset

Note, however, that it doesn’t work reliably for me. The longer the file the more likely it is to fail, crashing randomly at some point in the file. For short files though, it seems to work fine. I’ve posted about this on the forum.

Other OSS software:

I tried just about everything else I could find in various combinations. The only thing that came close to working was installing a recent version of ffdshow-tryout and using AviSynth and VirtualDub to read via a simple DirectShowSource script – but ffdshow looks like it still isn’t reading the AVCHD format 100% cleanly; there were a lot of visual artifacts – not enough to totally ruin it but enough to make me not want to use it.

Basically everything else I tried was the same as MediaCoder – using some variant/combination of ffmpeg, x264, mplayer, mencoder – all came close but didn’t cut the mustard.

The (sadly closed source) solution

In the end I just shelled out for a copy of the CoreAVC Professional Edition. Installed that, fired up VirtualDub and AviSynth and (using DirectShowSource again) had it working perfectly. In about 10 minutes I had a beautiful looking HD xvid encoded that made the previous weeks of effort looking for an open source solution completely wasted.

The verdict

I’m by no means a video expert, so I might have missed something. I think I know more than the average bear though, so I figure if I can’t get it working, most people aren’t going to have much of a shot.

I was about to give up and buy Nero Vision, which I think is one of the few commercial products that a) doesn’t COMPLETELY suck, b) isn’t ridiculously priced, and c) actually fucking works, but the CoreAVC option integrates happily and more effectively with the rest of my OSS tools, so I think that’ll be what I do for a while.

If you’re trying to do something similar with OSS tools, I’d give up for now and drop the ~US$15 on CoreAVC and use VirtualDub and/or other solutions that can read from a DirectShow source.

I’ll be keeping an eye on it; I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before MediaCoder (or its dependent components) are updated to work effectively.