Producing VP6 Video – What You Need to Know

*/]]>Though overshadowed by H.264 in the news, On2’s VP6 is still the most widely used streaming codec in the world today. In this short article, you’ll learn what you need to know to produce video using the On2 VP6 codec, including the relevant configuration options and the cost of producing VP6 video.

On2, VP6 and VP8

By way of background, the first big time Flash Codec was Sorenson Spark, which YouTube still uses for their lowest resolution videos. Then VP6 hit the scene, first as a single codec, then as a codec with multiple options, as you can see in Figure 1. Later, On2 announced, but never really seemed to ship VP8, primarily because Adobe never incorporated VP8 playback into the Flash Player.

Figure 1. The two most relevant VP6 configuration options.

On2 claimed that VP8 delivered 40% better quality than H.264, but never proved it with comparative videos. The one key advantage that VP8 clearly enjoyed over H.264, however, was that there was no royalty obligation, as there will be with H.264 in 2011, and Microsoft’s VC-1 in 2013.Ditto for VP6, which for most casual producers, is entirely royalty free.

In August 2009, Google bought On2, though the reasons are unclear, and the impact on VP6 or VP8 similarly murky. You should be able to continue producing VP6 video as before, while we’ll just have to wait and see what Google plans to do with VP8.

Producing the FLV file

When you produce a video file for Flash using VP6, you almost always want to produce an FLV file, which can contain VP6, Spark or even H.264 encoded video, though the F4V extension is increasingly used for H.264 encoded files for Flash distribution. The audio codec for the FLV, however, is always MP3.