Could an open-source video format unseat Flash as the vehicle of choice for video on the web? That's what Mozilla seems to hope. The organization behind Firefox has given a $100,000 grant to the Wikimedia Foundation so it can improve the Ogg Theora video codec.
The Wikimedia folks already make extensive use of the Theora codec for videos on Wikipedia, where a Java applet (and not a browser plugin) acts as the video player. Mozilla has different plans, though. In a recent blog post, Mozilla evangelist Christopher Blizzard says the upcoming Firefox 3.1 release will support Theora video through the HTML 5 <video> element. And that's not the only thing on the roadmap:
The other thing we're able to do is to make video a first class citizen on the web. This means we can do things with video and let it interact with other types of content (SVG, Canvas, HTML) in ways that haven't been possible to date. We hope that by releasing video from the plugin prison and letting it play nice with others we'll be able to open up a new wave of creativity around video. But more on that in another post.
Blizzard admits that Theora and its companion audio codec, Vorbis, currently "aren't perfect formats," but he says they're "certainly good enough for how video is used on the web today." He also sees an upside in offering a web video format that doesn't require expensive proprietary software, fees, or royalties to use.