Welcome to Front.Space Blog where we are going to discuss in detail about WebM (Google's revolutionary open-source and royalty-free video format) which is powering video streams all over the internet.
Our support team has been receiving many questions concerning WebM as it is the default output format in Front.Space and how they can perform on-the-fly video transcoding to other formats for their videos. Therefore, we decided to write this review in an attempt to answer all of the most asked questions like - What is WebM?
Are you ready to dive-deep into the journey of high-quality videos and lightning-fast loading speeds? Let's uncover the advantages of WebM in all its history!
What is WebM?
WebM is a video encoding format developed by Google in 2010. The thought behind it was to provide an open, royalty-free alternative to the H.264 video codec, which requires licensing fees for its use to be used in HTML 5 videos and HTML5 audio elements. It also has a similar project for the images, WebP.
WebM uses VP8 or VP9 as its video codec and Vorbis or Opus for its audio codec, which is also open-source and royalty-FREE. WebM format is based on the Matroska container, and it is known to support great video quality. Thus, it makes it an attractive option if you want high-quality video streaming without incurring a ever-increasing cost!
Full From of WebM
WebM stands for Web Media File.
Why did Google create the WebM format?
As the internet was booming with popularity and skyrocketing consumption of videos, there was a growing need for an open, royalty-free video codec that could be used across various platforms.
Hence, Google decided to take up the baton to launch WebM to address some of the limitations and challenges faced by existing video formats such as H.264 and Flash. Google recognized the importance of having a standardized high-quality video format that developers and content creators alike could use without worrying about licensing issues or concerns around compatibility.
Moreover, WebM also aligns with Google's vision for a more inclusive digital landscape where they want the technological barriers to be minimized and enable users across the world to harness the power of online video content seamlessly.
Why is WebM popular and what are the advantages of WebM in Video Encoding?
In recent times, WebM has gained immense popularity as a "preferred" video format, competing head-to-head with the widely used video formats MP4, MKV, AVI, etc.
Unlike MP4, WebM uses VP8 or VP9 video codecs and Vorbis or Opus audio codecs, offering superior compression efficiency without compromising visual quality. This makes WebM an excellent choice for streaming videos on platforms that prioritize fast loading times and minimal bandwidth usage.
Some of the key advantages are as follows:
- High Quality and Low File Sizes: WebM has ability to deliver high-quality videos with relatively small file sizes. due to its advanced compression techniques. It allows video files to stream smoothly over low-bandwidth connections without sacrificing on the quality. As a result, WebM has become popular on streaming platforms such as YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Twitch, and Vimeo etc.
- Accessibility: WebM is compatible with HTML5 web browsers, and built with core technologies such as HTTP , HTML and ICP/IP making it easy for developers to integrate into their websites or applications. WebM has a BSD-style license which also supports its open-source credibility.
- Low Computation Power: WebM does not require significant computational power to start playback on devices, whether smartphones and tablets, Connected TVs or PCs.
- Optimized for Web with Extensive Support: Due to its open-source nature, WebM supports a wide range of devices and operating systems without requiring additional plugins or software installations. This versatility ensures seamless playback across various browsers and devices.
While many browsers natively support MP4, due to licensing restrictions imposed by patents held by MPEG LA consortium members, some popular browsers don't have built-in support for WebM. While this can be resolved with the scaleable infrastructure by platforms like Front.Space, Now, even prominent browsers like Firefox are now taking up the stance against the compatibility issues of various formats
What Are WebM’s File-Format Specifications?
Let's get a bit technical and understand on how WebM multimedia container format combines video and audio streams into a single file?
The WebM file format specifications include the following components:
1. Video Codec: VP8 or VP9
WebM files primarily contain video streams that are compressed using VP8 or VP9 video codec. VP8 is the older codec, while VP9 offers improved compression efficiency and better video quality as compared to its predecessor. You may refer to more details on VP8 vs. VP9 Video Codec in our blog.
2. Audio Codec: Opus or Vorbis
WebM files also include audio streams that are encoded using either the Opus or Vorbis audio codec. Opus is known for its high audio quality and versatility, while Vorbis is an older codec that also provides moderate audio quality as compared Opus.
3. File Container: Matroska
WebM uses the Matroska (MKV) container format to hold the video and audio streams along with metadata. MKV is one of the most popular and flexible video container which supports various types of multimedia data and allows for the inclusion of multiple audio and subtitle tracks, making it suitable for complex multimedia projects.
WebM files contain metadata that provides information about the video and audio content, such as the title, author, and creation date. This metadata can help users organize and manage their media files effectively.
5. File Extension: (.webm)
WebM files are commonly identified by the ".webm" file extension. This extension is used to distinguish WebM files from other video formats and indicates that the file uses the WebM container format and contains VP8, VP9, Opus, or Vorbis encoded content.
What are the advantages and Disadvantages of using WebM?
WebM despite its popularity certainly has room for improvement and most of them are around the wide-spread adoption. We have listed the advantages and disadvantages of the Google's open-source Video format below:
|Advantages of WebM||Disadvantages of WebM|
|1. Royalty-Free: WebM is open and free from licensing fees, making it cost-effective.||1. Limited Hardware Support: While support is growing, not all devices and platforms fully support WebM playback.|
|2. High Quality: Offers excellent video and audio quality, even at lower bitrates.||2. Compatibility Challenges: Some older browsers and devices may struggle with WebM playback.|
|3. Efficient Compression: Utilizes VP8 and VP9 codecs for efficient compression, reducing bandwidth usage.||3. Encoding Complexity: Achieving optimal compression settings may require more computational resources during encoding.|
|4. Wide Browser Support: Major browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Opera natively support WebM playback.||4. Competition from H.265: While competitive, H.265 (HEVC) codec also offers efficient compression and is widely adopted.|
|5. Adaptive Streaming: Supports adaptive streaming for smooth playback on varying network conditions.||5. Lack of Standardization: WebM is not as standardized as other formats in some professional video production workflows.|
|6. Open Source: Being an open format encourages collaboration and innovation.||6. Quality vs. File Size Balance: Achieving the perfect balance between video quality and file size can be challenging.|
|7. Future Potential: WebM's open nature and efficient compression position it well for future video trends.||7. Variable Ecosystem: The support and development of WebM tools and libraries can vary.|
|8. Community Support: WebM benefits from a growing community, contributing to its ongoing development.||8. Subpar iOS Experience: Playing WebM on iOS devices requires additional software installations.|
Is WebM the latest Video Format?
There has been a constant innovations happening in the world of Video Formats. Some of the notable video formats and codecs that have gained attention after WebM in the technology ecosystem are as follows:
- AV1: Developed by the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia), AV1 is an open and royalty-free video codec that aims to provide improved compression efficiency over existing codecs. It's designed to be suitable for various applications, including streaming, video conferencing, and more.
- H.266/VVC (Versatile Video Coding): It is the successor to H.265/HEVC. It's designed to achieve significantly better compression while maintaining video quality, making it well-suited for high-resolution content such as 4K and 8K videos.
- LCEVC (Low Complexity Enhancement Video Coding): LCEVC is a codec-independent enhancement technology that can be used in conjunction with existing codecs to improve compression efficiency. It achieves this by enhancing the encoded video stream with additional information.
- MPEG-5 EVC (Essential Video Coding): It is a video coding standard developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG). It aims to provide improved compression efficiency compared to H.265/HEVC while being compatible with existing devices and infrastructure.
- VP10 and AV2: These are potential successors to VP9 and AV1, respectively. While VP10 was expected to improve VP9's compression efficiency further, AV2 aimed to advance the state of the art in open video coding technologies.
- H.264 and H.265/HEVC (Ongoing): While not "latest" in terms of new development, H.264 and H.265/HEVC remain widely used video codecs for various applications. H.265/HEVC, in particular, provides a good balance between compression efficiency and video quality.
History: How did we get to where we are today with video encoding?
The first video was known to be captured by humans was in the late 1800s and video encoding technology has come a long way since then. From analog to digital, from VHS tapes to Blu-ray discs, we have come a long way.
What is Video Encoding?
Video encoding is the process of converting a raw video file into a compressed format that can be easily transmitted or sent over to different networks, nodes, browsers, devices and platforms. The early formats were not very efficient and resulted in poor-quality videos with huge and bulky sizes making it difficult for people to collaborate.
The video encoding has got revolutionized by the introduction of MPEG-1 in the early 1990s as it allowed for better compression without significant loss of quality (there was still perceptive quality loss as compared to modern standards). This inspired the development of more advanced standards like MPEG-2, which is still used today by many TV Broadcasters around the world. In recent years, new technologies like H.266, H.265, H.264, AVC-Intra and VP9 have emerged that offer even higher compression rates while maintaining excellent quality.
What are the Limitations of WebM Format?
WebM has tons of benefits but it still has some limitations that can potentially hinder the widespread adoption. Some of them are mentioned as follows:
- Inability to handle high-quality videos efficiently: While WebM supports high-definition resolutions, it struggles to process large files at higher bitrates, resulting in a laggy playback experience. Additionally, some video editing software does not support WebM files, making it challenging for content creators to work with this format.
- Compatibility Issues with Some Hardware Devices: VP8 and VP9 codecs in WebM have led to compatibility issues with other hardware devices like TVs and mobile phones. The newer models are gradually embracing these codecs, older devices may not have the necessary hardware capabilities required for supporting smooth playback.
While these limitations are bound to exist for almost all the new formats. We recommend developers make the most of the latest technologies to be at pace with the future. Especially for digital products, you don't have to worry about deciding which format/codec to transcode and deliver your videos with platforms like Front.Space. It automatically detects and delivers videos in the most optimal format across devices and browsers.
WebM vs MKV: Which Format Should You Choose?
When deciding between using WebM vs MKV, it's important to consider your specific needs and the compatibility of these formats with your audience's devices and browsers. Here's a comparison of WebM vs MKV to help you make an informed decision:
Features of WebM:
- WebM is a multimedia format primarily designed for use on the web. It's an open, royalty-free format developed for web video.
- It uses the VP9 video codec and Opus audio codec by default, which provides high-quality video and audio compression.
- WebM is well-supported by modern web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.
- It's known for its efficient compression and good quality-to-file size ratio, making it a popular choice for web-based video content.
- WebM videos tend to play seamlessly in HTML5 video players, making it suitable for blogs and websites.
Features of MKV (Matroska):
- MKV is a flexible and open multimedia container format. It can hold video, audio, and subtitles in various formats.
- It doesn't specify a particular video or audio codec, so the quality and compatibility can vary depending on what codecs you use.
- MKV is not specifically designed for web use, and it's not supported by all web browsers without the use of third-party plugins or extensions.
- MKV is typically used for offline content or distribution of video files that don't need to be embedded directly in a web page.
Consider the following factors when deciding between WebM vs MKV for your use:
Compatibility: If you want to ensure that your videos are easily viewable by most visitors to your blog, WebM may be a better choice due to its native support in major web browsers.
File Size: WebM often provides good quality at a relatively small file size, which can be beneficial for web delivery as it reduces load times and bandwidth usage.
Customization: MKV allows you to use a wider range of codecs, which can give you more control over the quality and features of your videos.
Use Case: If your use-case includes downloadable video files for offline viewing or if you have a specific need for a particular codec or feature, MKV might be more appropriate.
WebM is a better choice for web-based content due to its compatibility with major browsers and efficient compression, while MKV offers more flexibility and customization but is typically used for offline or downloadable content.
How To Open an WebM File?
To watch a WebM file on your PC:
- Simply use a web browser (like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Opera (note that Safari doesn't support WebM Video files fully)), as it's a format commonly employed for video streaming within HTML5.
- Open the file browser using a keyboard shortcut—Windows users can press Ctrl + O, while Mac users can use Cmd + O.
- Or, Double-click your WebM video file to play it
In case your browser isn't compatible with WebM videos, you can opt for WebM player. However, not all video players support WebM. Fortunately, in this article, we can cover a list of the top five best free WebM players for both macOS and Windows 10.
Which Media Players Can Open WebM Format?
- VLC Media Player: Requires no introduction, VLC is a widely used open-source cross-platform multimedia player that supports a wide range of formats, including WebM. It's available for various Operating Systems like Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, & iOS.
- ffplay (by FFmpeg): FFmpeg which is a powerful multimedia framework, includes a media player called ffplay. It can also support a wide range of video formats, including WebM.
- Windows Media Player: Comes bundled with Microsoft OS, this lightweight media player also offers support for WebM files. However, if your version doesn’t have the necessary audio and video codecs installed, you cannot open WebM files. To be specific, Windows Media Player 12 users need to install WebM Media Foundation Components, and the earlier users need to install WebM DirectShow filters
- Media Player Classic - Home Cinema (MPC-HC): This lightweight media player also offers support for WebM files. It is an open source media player for Windows and 100% spyware & ads-free.
- 5K Player: It is a powerful media player that can play almost all commonly used audio file formats including 360-degree and 8K videos. 5K player can add your entire computer video library for you to select a video from the player itself.
How Do You Convert MP4 (or any other video format) to WebM Format With Front.Space?
Front.Space, a powerful cloud-based media management platform, offers a seamless way to convert MP4 videos to WebM format using their URL-based transformation API. Follow these detailed steps to effortlessly make the conversion for your images.
Step 1: Sign Up and Log In
If you haven't already, sign up for a FREE Front.Space account. Log in to your Front.Space Console to access the necessary tools.
Step 2: Upload Your mp4 Video
Upload the mp4 video you want to convert to your Front.Space media library.
Step 3: Access the Transformation URL
Once the video is uploaded, navigate to the video in your media library. Click on the video to open its details.
Step 4: Modify the Transformation URL
In the video details, you'll find a "URL" field that represents the URL of your MP4 video. To convert the mp4 to WebM, you'll need to modify this URL to include the necessary transformation parameters.
For example, if the original URL is:
You'll need to modify it to:
In this modified URL:
f_auto: Automatically detects the best format for the Video (WebM in this case).
Step 5: Test the Transformed URL
Open the modified URL in your browser to ensure that the mp4 video is successfully converted to WebM format.
Step 6: Customization (Optional)
Front.Space's URL-based transformation API offers a range of additional customization options. You can further adjust parameters like width, height, cropping, and more to tailor the converted WebM image to your specific requirements. Refer to Front.Space's documentation for a full list of transformation options.
Other Helpful Links:
- How do WebM and MP4 Differ?
- Which is better MKV or WebM?
- WebM to MP4 Converter for FREE
- WebM vs MP4
- WebM vs MP3
- WebM vs AVI
- WebM vs MOV
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):
1. What's the full form of WebM?
WebM stands for Web Media File
2. Is WebM Open source and royalty-free?
Yes, WebM is completely Open Source and Royalty Free
3. Is WebM compatible with macOS and iOS devices?
Safari features support for WebM video playback in the second beta of macOS Big Sur 11.3 Beta. Apple's browser will finally support the format after failing to do so for almost 11 years.
4. What is the maximum framerate supported by WebM?
WebM Video format support framerates up to 240 FPS, making it suitable for both standard and high-speed video playback
5. Why 4k video is in WebM format?
4K resolution videos are often in .webm format because it is an open-source, royalty-free and is designed to be efficient for streaming and high-resolution video playback. Moreover, the .webm format is supported by most modern web browsers, making it a popular choice for online video distribution.
6. Does YouTube use WebM?
YouTube accepts WebM videos for uploading from users and plays them back as MP4s for a viewer.
7. Is the WebM project owned by Google or is it independent?
The WebM project was initially developed by On2 Technologies, a company that Google later acquired in 2010. As a result, Google became the owner of the WebM project. However, Google positioned WebM as an open and royalty-free multimedia format, allowing anyone to use it without licensing fees. The WebM project is managed by the WebM Project Team, which includes developers from Google and the broader open-source community.
In essence, while Google acquired and initiated the development of WebM, the format itself is intended to be an independent and open standard accessible to all, rather than being solely controlled by Google
8. Can WebM be used for videoconferencing?
Yes, WebM can be used for videoconferencing. The efficient compression and good video quality of WebM make it a viable option for real-time communication applications like videoconferencing.
9. Why create a new file type (.webm)? Why not use .mkv?
The creation of .webm was to specifically target open and royalty-free video use cases, whereas .mkv is a versatile container not focused solely on web content, and WebM was designed to be more streamlined for web-related application.
10. What if someone gets the code from Google and gives it to me without changes? Do I have a patent grant from Google?
Yes, you still have the right to redistribute and you still have a patent license for Google's patents that cover the code that Google released. You may refer more FAQs related to patent and rights on the WebM Project Official Website