FFhistory: Paul B Mahol

This guy appeared in 2011 from nowhere and in a sense he looks like an embodiment of the project. You can find in him the same productivity and unwillingness to meet other people as in Michael Niedermayer, the same talents to reverse engineer codecs as in many people mentioned in the post about them, the same diva behaviour as in Baptiste Coudurier, the same versatility as elenril, the same unwillingness to finish Bink2 decoder as Luca’s unwillingness to finish Opus decoder (I’m still waiting for both BTW) and the same abrasive personality as in many developers from MPlayer. In other words, a guy with strong positive and negative sides.

This Croatian came out of nowhere at the end of 2011 and started up contributing to libav with cleaning up Cirrus Logic AccuPak decoder and adding an encoder for it as well. Even if the codec is simple that’s not a bad start at all. Through the years he has implemented support for many various image, audio and video formats, sometimes after the textual specification, sometimes after the binary one. Actually we keep in touch because of this shared hobby as he sometimes asks me for an advice about some format but often saying “you can do it, I believe in you” is enough (in other times I have to start Ghidra to produce an answer).

With the time his behaviour made him drift to FFmpeg where he can enjoy more heated interactions with other people (and when he is really bored, start some). There he also wrote a good deal of filters for all kinds of data and various ways of processing it. Back in the day I had a semi-jocular goal of REing a codec or two for each letter of alphabet, probably he’s achieved the same by now and wrote a filter for each letter of alphabet as well.

For me he’s essentially the one who keeps the project at least somewhat interesting (beside the very rare contributions from Peter Ross) but it’s essentially galvanising a corpse. Maybe he’ll start his own fork as well. And as I said in the introduction, his positive and negative sides are both strong so make your own judgement on him taking all of it into account.

10 Responses to “FFhistory: Paul B Mahol”

  1. Kieran says:

    He is such a strong and powerful person!

  2. Kostya says:

    Strong – yes, powerful – no. To me it seems only three people in the project can do whatever they want and tell others what to do: Michael Niedermayer, Carl Eugen Hoyos and Nicolas George.

  3. Peter says:

    Also keen to see his AC-4 decoder published someday.

  4. Paul says:

    Please stop miss-typing name, its Nicolas.

  5. Kostya says:

    Fixed (and hopefully I don’t have to mention him again).

  6. Kostya says:

    I think it was public, just not merged for some reasons.

  7. Lena says:

    Is there a version of ffmpeg (or any similar program) that supports AC-4 decoding, preferably in real time, in other words it can take in a transport stream and re-encode the AC-4 audio to another format that supports at least 6 audio channels (5.1 audio)?

  8. Kostya says:

    Probably the one in Paul’s private tree (since I don’t see ac4 branch in his public repository).
    I guess somebody needs to pay him and offer protection from D*lby in order to make him work on it again.

  9. Gautam Bhat says:

    How do these developers start off? Is it just experimentation or is there some relation to the work that they do in their day jobs?

  10. Kostya says:

    Previously it was enthusiasts fixing their own problem (usually with transcoding or playing back an anime rip). Nowadays it’s mostly people sending work-related stuff from their corporate mails. Which is another sign for me that the project is essentially (un)dead.