Linux users care as little about standards as Microsoft.

For the past two weeks I’ve been researching on how to convert DVD subtitles to MPEG-4 TTXT (Timed Text) using both Macintosh and Linux tools, and arrived at a curious realization when reading various HOWTO‘s on the Linux side of things.

The interesting thing about most of them is that they advocate the use of .ogg or .mkv containers. For those of you who don’t know, a ‘container’ is the file format that stores the video sound and text components of a movie.

Additionally, for those of you who don’t know, one of the biggest goals of the open source community is to push non-proprietary file formats that allow for the widespread adoption of free and open software.

While .ogg and .mkv containers may be described as open formats, they couple together audio and video streams in such a way that most playback software not based on ffmpeg, mplayer or VLC will never play them. Similarly, Microsoft is busily promoting its own VC1/WMV format in the interests of its bottom line. The goals are different but the lack of regard for open standards is the same. There are industry standards to follow here which guarantee compatibility not only with multiple operating systems but all modern hardware playback devices.

And yet, militance on the part of members of the open source community shoves standards roughly aside in their bold efforts to promote what they believe to be “freedom”. This attitude is so pandemic that the above Wikipedia article has had a section inserted into it listing alternatives to MPEG-4, as though these were relevant to the discussion of worldwide standards in multimedia.

To summarize, there are standards to follow. All modern guides to encoding personally generated video for playback in a widespread variety of devices should be teaching people to encode MPEG-4 video in MP4 containers, using standard video streams (MPEG-4/AVC H.264), audio streams (MPEG-4/AAC) and text streams (MPEG-4/TTXT).

I am in the process of piecing together such a guide. And once I’m done with it, I sure hope those who may find it see past their ideologies long enough to realise interoperability is key.

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2 comments

  1. I have a hard time finding programs which can imbed MPEG-4 ttxt in a film container – any recommendations?

    Markus

  2. I can’t wait to see your MPEG-4 with TTXT guide. I have been fiddling with various tools (project-X, mplayer, ffmpeg, gpac etc), and I just can’t get it to work.

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