Home Video Goes Open Source on Wikipedia: New Format, New Player, New Editing/Sharing Tools

Video Goes Open Source on Wikipedia: New Format, New Player, New Editing/Sharing Tools

In a Beet.tv interview posted yesterday, Wikimedia deputy director Erik Moller gave a few clues as to the Foundation’s train of thought when it comes to video editing and distribution.

In the interview clips, included below, Moller hints at the site’s upcoming suite of editing tools and sharing options. He compares video to text and image content, subtextually posing the question: If other kinds of non-video content are so easy to grab, remix, and reuse, why not video, too?

“The typical video that we see on the web is basically a black box format in a Flash container. I can’t easily manipulate it; I need to buy proprietary tools to really do things with it or even to rebroadcast it.” All these factors go harshly against the free-as-in-beer, Creative Commons grain of Wikipedia/Wikimedia, so it should come as no surprise that the Foundation’s video player and tools are to represent a dramatic shift from current web video standards.

Although videos have been part of the Wikimedia stable for a couple years through the open-source Ogg Theora format, the offering has been limited. Now, however, a Firefox 3.5 plugin called Firefogg will allow for server-side transcoding to the Ogg format. In addition to allowing for downloading and editing, the Ogg format also consumes significantly fewer resources during video playback.

Of course, any open-source technology that makes information free (both free-as-in-beer and free-as-in-free-to-move-about-the-Internet) is not without controversy. The Ogg codec’s role in HTML 5 is of particular interest to those concerned with the evolution of web-based video.

Of particular interest to those concerned with the evolution of content ownership, however, is the Foundation’s proposal, as stated by Moller, to allow users to “take a video, to crop it, to edit it, to take different assets and mix them into a single video – not just video… a text slide or… a slide show. You can mix videos, tag them with audio, obviously. So we want to build a completely open standards-based environment that people can use to remix video.”

As we reported last month, when news of the new player was breaking, hundreds of thousands of public domain videos from sources such as the Internet Archive and Metavid will be available in the new format.

The editing tools to be made available later this year are led and funded by open source video company Kaltura. Moller also revealed to Beet.tv that Wikimedia is looking for a CDN partner to ensure streaming video performance.

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