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How To Encode and Playback AV1 Video on Ubuntu 18.04

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In this article, we will explore how to encode and playback AV1 video on Ubuntu 18.04, also known as Bionic Beaver. We will delve into the tools required for encoding and playback, as well as the steps to follow.

Quick Answer

To encode and playback AV1 video on Ubuntu 18.04, you can use the aomenc tool for encoding, but it has limitations and is not recommended for widespread usage. For playback, the stock standard installation of Ubuntu 18.04 offers limited support for AV1. Some media players like mediainfo, VLC, and Chrome have support for AV1, but others like SMPlayer, mpv, FFmpeg, Firefox, and MKVToolNix may not have full support or require additional steps. Overall, while it is possible to encode and playback AV1 video on Ubuntu 18.04, it can be a challenge due to limited support for the codec.

Introduction to AV1

AV1 is a highly efficient video codec that aims to provide better video quality at lower bitrates. However, the support for AV1 is still in its early stages, and not all media players and tools support it yet.

Encoding with AV1 Codec

To encode videos with the AV1 codec, the most practical tool currently available is aomenc. However, it’s important to note that this method has its limitations and is not recommended for widespread usage.

Using aomenc

aomenc is a tool that can be used to encode AV1 videos. However, it only accepts raw video in the .y4m format and cannot encode audio. This means you need a large amount of space to store the raw video.

To use aomenc, you need to compile it from source. You can follow the libaom section of the FFmpeg compilation guide or use the already-compiled aomenc from the FFmpeg build directory.

Please note that encoding speed can be an issue with aomenc. Even at the fastest speed setting, it can take a significant amount of time to encode short videos. It is recommended to wait for FFmpeg to gain better support for AV1 encoding, as it will make the encoding process more feasible.

Playback Support in Media Players

As of August 2018, the stock standard installation of Bionic Beaver 18.04 offers limited support for AV1 encoding or playback. Here’s a look at the support provided by different media players:

mediainfo

mediainfo, which can be downloaded from the Bionic Beaver Repository, offers out-of-the-box support for AV1 files.

VLC

vlc, also available from the Bionic Beaver Repository, does not support AV1 files by default. However, support can be compiled in from version 3.0 and greater.

SMPlayer and mpv

The versions of SMPlayer and mpv available in Bionic Beaver do not offer AV1 support.

FFmpeg

FFmpeg with extra codecs in Bionic Beaver does not support AV1, but full support can be gained by following the FFmpeg Trac Compile Guide since version 4.0.

Chrome

Chrome, which is not available from Bionic Beaver Repositories, and the dev version of Chrome have no problems with playing AV1 files.

Firefox

Firefox in Bionic Beaver cannot play AV1 files, but support for AV1 is expected to come with Firefox 63.

MKVToolNix

The version of MKVToolNix available in the Bionic Repository does not adequately deal with AV1. However, the latest version adds the required support.

Conclusion

Encoding and playing back AV1 video on Ubuntu 18.04 can be a bit of a challenge due to the limited support for the codec. However, with the right tools and a bit of patience, it is possible. As the AV1 codec continues to be developed and adopted, we can expect to see improved support and easier methods for encoding and playback in the future.

What is AV1?

AV1 is a video codec that aims to provide better video quality at lower bitrates compared to other codecs.

Can I encode AV1 videos using the `aomenc` tool?

Yes, you can use the aomenc tool to encode AV1 videos. However, it only accepts raw video in the .y4m format and cannot encode audio.

How can I install `mediainfo` on Ubuntu 18.04?

You can install mediainfo on Ubuntu 18.04 by running the command sudo apt-get install mediainfo.

Does VLC support AV1 files by default?

No, VLC does not support AV1 files by default. However, support can be compiled in from version 3.0 and greater.

Can I play AV1 files in Firefox on Ubuntu 18.04?

No, Firefox in Ubuntu 18.04 cannot play AV1 files. However, support for AV1 is expected to come with Firefox 63.

Can I play AV1 files in Chrome on Ubuntu 18.04?

Yes, Chrome can play AV1 files without any problems. However, Chrome is not available from the Bionic Beaver Repositories and needs to be installed separately.

Is there a recommended media player for AV1 playback on Ubuntu 18.04?

Currently, there is no recommended media player for AV1 playback on Ubuntu 18.04 due to limited support. However, VLC with compiled-in AV1 support or using Chrome can be good options.

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