What is GPAC?

GPAC is the leader in video streaming and next-generation multimedia transcoding, packaging and delivery. By packaging we mean taking media (eg, audio, video, subtitles, images, metadata, etc) and putting them together for a purpose. This purpose can be local mezzanine storage (for later processing), playback (single file), streaming, encryption or archiving.

Essentially, GPAC today is for packaging what FFmpeg is for encoding, (except that GPAC leverages FFmpeg to enhance it with streaming superpowers).

After 20+ years, GPAC has stood the test of time as an open-source ultramedia project focused on packaging, modularity and standards compliance. Furthermore, in the academic realm, GPAC serves as an invaluable tool for researchers and students alike, offering a comprehensive platform for multimedia studies, experiments and innovations.

Why Should I Use Open Source? 

GPAC open-source means you don’t rely on a third party for your fixes or experiments. This is the core of innovation. Open-source lowers the friction. In a business where most companies lose money, you need to be smart and flexible whether we are speaking about an ad-based tier or live streaming, or developing interactive formats.

GPAC has been designed to be standards compliant, and GPAC developers contribute to standards bodies. GPAC relies on the ISO Base Media File Format, more widely known as MPEG MP4 or fMP4, CMAF. ISOBMFF is now the leading technology for packaging, and while there is no consensus on video distribution codecs, contribution protocols, or the future of audio, GPAC has created a safe harbor for packaging.

GPAC also has some excellent support for accessibility and metadata. This makes GPAC a perfect solution for content distribution but also for small creators who wish to simplify their workflows. 

What do you mean when you say MP4Box is the industry standard MP4 muxer?

There are many MP4 demuxers, but only a few MP4 muxers, and most of them are not interoperable. The MP4 standard is architectured around a core specification called Iso Base Media File Format (ISO-BMFF, MPEG4 part 12) and several interoperability standards (such as MPEG4 part 15 for H264/AVC integration) and then recommendations (such as CMAF). 

GPAC goes even further as it serves as a reference implementation and experimentation platform in the standardization field. We feature GPAC and MP4Box, our packaging tools, and a full playback infrastructure.

How Can I Customize GPAC?

For customisations please visit Motion Spell.

I Already Use GPAC. Why Would I License It?

There are both business and legal considerations. Further information.

How Does GPAC Save Costs?

GPAC, as an open-source platform, offers the freedom to use and deploy under the LGPLv2 license, ensuring minimal costs.  However, it’s essential to consider content distribution expenses. The repercussions of an inefficient packager can be substantial, both in terms of cost and performance. This is where GPAC stands out – it’s not only free but also efficient and adaptable.

The beauty of open-source lies in its vast community. With more users and reviewers than typical closed-source projects, the technology becomes universally accessible and refined over time.

Developed by experts who understand the foundational technology, GPAC’s code undergoes rigorous scrutiny from a vast community, ensuring its reliability and efficiency. We’re proud advocates of the ISO-BMFF, a standard file format we played a role in developing at MPEG. Our independence ensures we remain unbiased, and our flexibility allows us to be codec and protocol neutral.

GPAC seamlessly integrates with various ecosystems, making it a versatile choice for any workflow. Storing and distributing content can be expensive. Multiple packaging and streaming formats exist to cater to end-user delivery needs, such as DASH and HLS, or to facilitate internet streaming. While CMAF aimed to bridge HLS and DASH, it’s crucial to understand your audience and metrics to select the optimal formats. Motion Spell can guide you through these decisions.

Can you give us some additional back story about GPAC Open Source?

The seeds of GPAC were sown over 20 years ago in New York City, by Jean Le Feuvre, who was serving as a CTO at a tech company at the time. He was championing the innovative ideas behind MPEG-4. This was a time when creativity in the tech world was flourishing, marked by the likes of QuickTime VR, Macromedia Flash and Second Life.

While much of that pioneering spirit was overshadowed by the dot-com crash, GPAC stood resilient, proving to be ahead of its time. 

Recognizing its potential, researchers collaborated with Jean Le Feuvre, (now at Télécom Paris), ensuring that the GPAC codebase would remain available for diverse applications, and be developed, indefinitely. At this point it became a fully open source project. For more info, see Jean Le Feuvre’s ACM Video Presentation from 2020.

This commitment to longevity and adaptability was a driving force behind open-sourcing GPAC under a GNU license, chosen by Télécom Paris for intellectual property considerations.

Today, GPAC is renowned for its security, scalability, and versatility. It’s compatible with a myriad of platforms, including embedded systems. For instance, GPAC is frequently employed in Set Top Boxes (STBs) as an IP gateway or integrated into phone middleware for applications like 5G Broadcast and Multicast ABR scenarios.

GPAC shares its lineage with iconic tools like VLC, FFmpeg, and MediaInfo, all of which have French origins. 

How Has GPAC Technically Evolved Over the Years?

GPAC used to be a satellite tool of existing workflows. Now GPAC can also be your master tool orchestrating your workflow. In 2012 people built a better-FFmpeg with some GPAC packaging.

In 2020, we celebrated the release of v1, a testament to GPAC’s commitment to modularity and serving its ever-growing community. This evolution was not only a response to the escalating complexity in the multimedia domain but also a technical feat that many other projects have found challenging to replicate.

GPAC is also pilotable from scripting languages such as Python or JS. That’s why we jumped from version number 1.0 to 2.0 in 2022. Now it is possible to leverage FFmpeg from GPAC.

And in 2023, GPAC can now run in your web browser.

What Does The Future Hold for GPAC?

Open-source software stands as a robust pillar for innovative content. At GPAC, innovation is deeply ingrained in our DNA. With a plethora of ideas from both our team and our supportive community, our commitment to pioneering advancements remains strong.

The value of open-source extends beyond its credibility. It represents an optimal strategy to pool technical resources, addressing potential talent gaps. This approach is not only sustainable but also strategic.

In the fiercely competitive realm of talent acquisition, where technology doesn’t always translate to direct business advantages, there’s a strong inclination to standardize tech resources. Open-source software, with its inherent social responsibility, offers a compelling proposition to attract and retain talent.

However, it’s crucial for companies to transition from a passive “freerider” mindset to a more proactive, infrastructure-centric approach. Recognizing this need for active participation and collaboration, we invite companies to sponsor GPAC. By doing so, they can play an instrumental role in shaping the future of open-source innovations.

How Does GPAC Adapt to Emerging Use Cases?

Whenever innovative use-cases arise, we typically see two scenarios unfold:

  1. A community naturally forms around the new use-case, driving its development and implementation autonomously.
  2. In the absence of a driving force, the responsibility falls on the GPAC contributors.

From here, two paths emerge:

  • If the use-case resonates with our vision, we prioritize it on our roadmap.
  • Alternatively, for tailored solutions and integrations, we provide professional services and customisation can be provided via Motion Spell

What is GPAC’s Commitment to Sustainability ?

At its core, GPAC is rooted in open-source principles, representing a collaborative endeavor that inherently reduces redundancy. Our focus is not just on creating, but on creating efficiently. The packaging solutions we offer are streamlined, and our modular design approach curtails unnecessary intermediate processes, saving both storage and bandwidth.

Our technological choices further underscore our commitment to sustainability. Predominantly crafted in C, GPAC is designed to be compiled and executed directly by your processor. This choice, initially made to cater to platforms with constrained resources, resonates with our ethos of simplicity and fostering genuine human connections.

While our primary role is software development, we ensure that our practices don’t dictate or restrict our contributors and users in any way. We don’t mandate specific processes or device usage. Such impositions would not only exceed our purview but would also contradict the very essence of Free Software. In essence, GPAC’s approach is a testament to sustainable, efficient, and inclusive software development.

Useful Links:

Motion Spell on Sustainability

2023-06-13 Leveraging the Value of Open Source Software

How Can Content Creators Maximize the Benefits of GPAC?

GPAC presents a unique blend of technical prowess and creative flexibility, making it an invaluable asset for content creators.

Rooted in Creativity: GPAC emerged during an intense period of creative innovation. It’s not just limited to traditional TV-style formats. With GPAC, creators can access features akin to web browsers but with the added advantages of being more lightweight and easier to use for storing and streaming your content.

Comprehensive end-to-end: GPAC provides an all-encompassing approach to content, from the moment of creation to the final playback. For example, the ISOBMFF format is versatile enough to support production (like ProRes), intermediary stages (such as CMAF), streaming (via DASH/HLS), and even archiving (using plain MP4).

In essence, with GPAC, content creators have a singular, open-source tool that seamlessly integrates into their entire workflow.

Why Should I Consider Becoming a Sponsor of GPAC?

It is a full-time job to keep GPAC updated, and it’s one of the main reasons why GPAC seeks the support of sponsors. Professional users bring invaluable assets to GPAC: expertise, vision, contributions, financial support and innovative ideas. 

Collaborating with GPAC offers an opportunity to elevate your projects to new heights. While GPAC thrives on the dedication of its community, it also relies on the financial backing of its user base.

The generous contributions of our sponsors have been instrumental in sustaining the GPAC project. To learn more about sponsorship, click here.