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The Future of Web Video, Part 1

Feb 16, 2010 12:00 PM, By Jan Ozer

HTML5? Someday. Ogg? Probably not.


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Figure 2. The basic Google Chrome player playing an Ogg Theora file.

Figure 2. The basic Google Chrome player playing an Ogg Theora file.

What does the player look like?

Let's spend a few moments on player appearance and/or features. If you go the bare-bones video tag route, you get a simple player that looks subtly different on each browser, like that shown in Figure 2.

Figure 3. Jilion's SublimeVideo HTML5 Video Player in Chrome. Still pretty simple, but it looks the same on all browsers.

Figure 3. Jilion's SublimeVideo HTML5 Video Player in Chrome. Still pretty simple, but it looks the same on all browsers.

Of course, you can customize the player using either CSS or JavaScript, which leads to a category of products like Jilion's SublimeVideo HTML5 Video Player, shown in Figure 3. Design in the SublimeVideo Player and your pages will look consistent on all HTML5 browsers, and the player will fall back to Flash for browsers that don't support HTML5, though Flash support is not yet incorporated in the company's web demo.

Figure 4. YouTube's HTML5 player.

Figure 4. YouTube's HTML5 player.

How far can you go design-wise with Javascript and CSS? Both Vimeo and YouTube recently released beta HTML5 players that support H.264 via the video tag. To try out the YouTube beta, go to www.youtube.com/html5 and opt in. For Vimeo, you can toggle from HTML5 to Flash on every page with video.

At least initially, YouTube's player doesn't work with videos that have advertising, annotations, or captions, and it doesn't offer Flash fallback, so if you're running Internet Explorer (without Chrome Frame) or Firefox, you'll get an error message when the video tries to play. Otherwise, the players are similar to the current shipping Flash Player, though obviously YouTube needs to get the advertising element working to keep the doors open.

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