I’ve posted a couple of articles here about Google’s WebM project to create an open Web video standard, one unencumbered by patents. Google appears to have been making steady, if unexceptional, progress on the project.
Google, of course, owns one of the Internet’s major video sites: YouTube, which has been making WebM versions of some recently uploaded content available. Now, in a post at the official YouTube Blog, the company has announced that it is in the process of making all of its video content available in the WebM format; this is, obviously, a very considerable project.
Transcoding all new video uploads into WebM is an important first step, and we’re also working to transcode our entire video catalog to WebM. Given the massive size of our catalog – nearly 6 years of video is uploaded to YouTube every day – this is quite the undertaking. So far we’ve already transcoded videos that make up 99% of views on the site or nearly 30% of all videos into WebM.
Google is one of the few firms in the world with the computing infrastructure to undertake this sort of job as a sort of background task. It enables them to shift processing resources in response to user demand.
It works like this: at busy upload times, our processing power is dedicated to new uploads, and at less busy times, our cloud will automatically switch some of our processing to encode older videos into WebM.
Google also says that it will continue to support the H.264 codec, as well as an HTML 5 video player now under development. (H.264 is covered by patents, and subject to royalties, at least potentially.) Even with Google’s resources, transcoding the entire YouTube video inventory is a sizable undertaking. It is another indication that they are very serious about WebM.