Today is the Free Software Foundation's "Day Against DRM" and it seems like an auspicious time to launch a Kickstarter campaign to support the completion of the Lib-Ray standard for publishing high-definition videos on fixed media. I've been posting my progress on the prototypes here in Free Software Magazine, and it's clear to me that this is now just a matter of being able to dedicate the time and resources to finish the job.
I'm willing to spend that kind of time to the project if there's enough interest in promoting this alternative to Blu-Ray. The result will be a niche standard that will be optimized for the particular needs of free-culture and independent filmmakers and their fans, and it will be built entirely using free software and the software will of course be released under the terms of the GNU GPL.
Kickstarter Page - "Lib-Ray: Non-DRM HD Video Format Standard"
The First Two Lib-Ray Releases
I'm going to be producing two high-definition Lib-Ray releases:
- Blender Foundation Open Movie Collection ("Elephants Dream", "Big Buck Bunny", and "Sintel")
- Sita Sings the Blues
Both will be made from the bit-perfect 1920x1080 master files, showing the full capability of the Lib-Ray standard. This edition of "Sita Sings the Blues" will be the first time the title has been released in high-definition, since Nina Paley refused to release on the DRM-laden Blu-Ray standard, and this will be a "creator endorsed" edition (a portion of the proceeds will be shared with her once we get past the minimum needed to support the development of Lib-Ray).
I did speak earlier to Ton Roosendaal about making a similar arrangement with Blender Foundation, but he was not interested in pursuing such an arrangement, although, of course, they are happy with people using their videos for projects like this one.
Building a Player
One thing that has become clear to me is that we need to have a player created in order for Lib-Ray to be taken seriously, and I've got a plan which involves Python, Gstreamer, and Webkit. I will be producing a software player and that is also one of the rewards.
I'm also willing to produce a limited number of hardware "players" by installing the software player package on a Home Theater PC system that I will build for the purpose. High-end backers of the project will have the option to get one of these.
I Am a Writer After All
Naturally, seeing as I am a writer, I will be fully documenting all of this in a book tentatively named the "Complete Guide to Lib-Ray". This will include the formal specification and tutorials on how to create and use Lib-Ray releases and player software (including the ugly command-line based approach as well as using the slick "Lib-Ray Wizard" tool I will be developing as part of the project).
This project has gotten more attention than I originally expected -- it seems there are some people who want to see it happen. I'm hoping this will translate into the backing I need to see it through, and it's certainly going to be fun to find out. So if you're looking to have HD media without the DRM hassel, please give my project a look. Thanks!