Archive for January, 2023

FFhistory: Summer of Code students

Monday, January 16th, 2023

Since 2006 FFmpeg (and libav when it existed and was active) has been participating in the Summer of Code program. Essentially it’s students working on tasks for different project with one corporation paying for the successful completion of the task during summer (back in the day it was $4.5k, no idea what happens now). While the sum is not remarkable by American standards, it was high by Central European and Asian standards. And of course there were students who were after money and disappeared after they got them (in one case with unbelievable claims about why the health problems prevented him from the completion). In one case there was a student who essentially plagiarised another project, in another case a student dumped a lot of code with unknown functionality so it was hard to understand or review. But here I want to talk about the students who actually stuck around after the program was over and even did something else.

FFhistory: the new generation

Sunday, January 15th, 2023

The original FFmpeg developers were mostly the people developing the project for fun and for personal reasons (i.e. being able to watch anime encoded in some weird format), the newer generation might’ve come for that reason but as often as not they were employed by some large company (or got employed by it soon after they started contributing) so their subsequent work was done mostly on behalf of their employer.

FFhistory: Luca Barbato

Saturday, January 14th, 2023

He claims to have started his career by writing Altivec optimisations, being spotted by Gentoo developers and asked by them to apply his skills at certain opensource projects… Originally he worked on MPlayer but eventually, in 2005, he turned his attention to FFmpeg as well.

FFhistory: optimisations

Friday, January 13th, 2023

There has never been an official explanation for FFmpeg name but people agree it has something to do with being fast (Stefano Sabatini had an output of some program trying to decipher this acronym in his mail signatures but it was just a joke). So we need to mention the people who made FFmpeg really fast by providing various optimisations.

FFhistory: Måns Rullgård

Thursday, January 12th, 2023

Finally I can pay homage to a man whose contributions to the project are rivalling Fabrice’s and Michael’s. Of course I’m talking about Måns.

FFhistory: audio

Wednesday, January 11th, 2023

Today I’d like to talk about people responsible for the specific audio components. For example, FFmpeg had AC-3 encoder right from the start but the decoding had to be done via third-party GPLed library so somebody had to write a native decoder. Or who is responsible for the majority of speech codecs support in libavcodec? And who has made a terrible audio encoder that was still in use by a major video hosting (not me)? Read on to find out.

FFhistory: divas and rock stars

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023

Any sufficiently large project (not necessarily a software one) will eventually get one or more persons of significant talents and even more significant personality. Initially they’ll bring good work to the project but eventually they’ll feel they don’t get enough credit for it and then scandals start. This is usually called diva or rock star behaviour since the effect was most commonly (and easily) observed with these categories of people. FFmpeg though its history also had some people deserving the title: Ronald Bultje, Baptiste Coudurier and (to a lesser degree) Kieran Kunhya. Paul B. Mahol seems to try to get into the company or maybe he’s bored so today we’ll review just the first three guys.

FFhistory: early reverse engineers

Monday, January 9th, 2023

What attracted me to FFmpeg as well as e.g. video hosting providers was its ability to decode various formats that were often tricky to decode even on their native platforms let alone in other circumstances (for instance, I remember the official Indeo 5 decoder freezing Windows system when trying to play perfectly valid Indeo 5 videos encoded with a beta Indeo 5 encoder). So let’s remember the names of those who made the project truly versatile.

FFhistory: zeal and passion

Saturday, January 7th, 2023

Before moving to people who have contributed greatly to the functionality of the project let’s talk about the two people who have made an extremely large impact on the perceived image of FFmpeg. Of course I’m talking about Diego Biurrun (the passionate one) and Carl Eugen Hoyos (the zealot).

FFhistory: early contributors

Thursday, January 5th, 2023

There are still many prominent people worth separate posts but for now I’d like to give a shout-out to the various developers (mostly coming from MPlayer) who worked on FFmpeg before 2006. Why 2006? This was a time when the project started participating in Summer of Code program that drew some students in. Plus 2005-2006 was the time when a lot of video hosting sites were found (a couple of them even surviving to this day) and you can guess what technology they started to use…

So here’s the list and remember: if somebody is not listed here that means he is likely to appear in some other post. I’ll try to add some description of the work but in many cases if I have nothing to say assume it’s “provided bugfixes, tried to improve things and so on”.