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VP8 Video Codec

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Format Description Properties Explanation of format description terms

Identification and description Explanation of format description terms

Full name VP8 Video Codec

VP8 is a video data compression codec format, originally released as a proprietary format by On2 Technologies in 2008, but after acquiring On2 in 2010 Google announced the VP8 codec software open source under the WebM Open Web Media Project. According to WebM Project, VP8 Data Format and Decoding Guide (RFC 6386) was published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in November 2011. The RFC 6386 document describes the VP8 format, stating "this document is not an Internet Standard Track specification; it is published for informational purposes." IETF also has published an Internet Standards Track document, RTP Payload Format for VP8 Video, describing the RTP payload specification used in VP8 codec, RFC 6386.

VP8 Compressed Video Data Format:

Per RFC 6386 document, "Like many modern video compression schemes, VP8 is based on decomposition of frames into square subblocks of pixels, prediction of such subblocks using previously constructed blocks, and adjustment of such predictions (as well as synthesis of unpredicted blocks) using a discrete cosine transform (DCT)." One special case uses Walsh- Hadamard transform (WHT) instead of DCT. “Unlike some similar schemes, VP8 specifies exact values for reconstructed pixels. This greatly facilitates the verification of the correctness of a decoder implementation and also avoids difficult-to-predict visual incongruities between such implementations. VP8’s use of basic concepts and sophisticated usage of contextual probabilities results in a significant reduction in data rate at a given quality.”

Google developers' paper, Technical Overview of VP8, an Open Source Video Codec for the Web, 2011, provides a review of the VP8 format and its technical features, stating “Compared to other video coding formats, VP8 has many distinctive technical features that help it to achieve high compression efficiency and low computational complexity for decoding at the same time.

VP8 Design Assumptions for an Internet/Web-Based Video Application:

  • Low Bandwidth Requirement – operate in quality range from “watchable video” to “visually lossless”.
  • Web Video Format – 420 color sampling, 8-bit per channel color depth, progressive scan, and maximum image dimensions 16383 x 16383 pixels. (VP8 works exclusively with an YUV 4:2:0 image format).
  • Support Wide Range of Client Hardware, connected to the Web, from low power mobile devices to advanced desktop computers.

VP8 Technical Features:

  • Hybrid Transform, adaptive quantization.
  • Flexible Reference Frames (Intra Prediction).
  • Efficient Intra/Inter Prediction.
  • High Performance Sub-Pixel Interpolation.
  • Adaptive In-Loop Deblocking Filtering.
  • Frame Level Adaptive Entropy Coding.
  • Parallel Processing in Decoders.

Uses of VP8:'s, What is a VP8 File?, states “VP8 is announced by Google as one of the best video formats having the best picture quality data rate and encoding speed. The best advantage of VP8 is that it is a royalty-free substitute for H.264. It is a specific format for encoding and decoding high-quality video as a file or a bitstream.”

Per the Wikipedia VP8 page, “VP8 is mainly used in connection with WebRTC and as a format for short looped animations, as a replacement for the Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).”

Production phase Generally, a final-state (end-user video delivery) format.
Relationship to other formats
    Used by WebM, WebM., “WebM files consist of video streams compressed with the VP8 or VP9 video codec.”
WebM Wikipedia page, WebM - Container for VP8/VP9/AV1 (video) Vorbis/Opus (audio).
    Used by WebP, WebP.
WebP Project Page, “WebP file consists of VP8 or VP8L image data.”
    Used by AV1, AOMedia1. P8 Wikipedia page, “The emerging royalty-free internet video format AV1 from the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) are based on VP8.” Not described separately on this website at this time.
See links for information: AV1 Wikipedia (, (, GitHub AOMedia Codec (
    Used by HMTL_5, HyperText Markup Language (HTML) 5.
As stated on's Document, Web Video Codec Guide, "There is good browser support for VP8 in HTML content, especially within WebM files...Web browsers are required to support VP8 for WebRTC, but not all browsers that do so also support it in HTML audio and video elements."
    Has earlier version VP7, VP7 Video Codec.
Per VP8 Wikipedia page, VP7 is the predecessor to VP8. Not described separately on this website at this time. See Notes for more information on previous versions.
    Has later version VP9, VP9 Video Codec. Per VP8 Wikipedia page, VP8’s direct successor is VP9.

Local use Explanation of format description terms

LC experience or existing holdings The Library of Congress has VP8 in containers, including WebM, in it's collections.
LC preference See the Library of Congress Recommended Formats Statement for format preferences for moving image works.

Sustainability factors Explanation of format description terms


Open source, royalty free format. Per VP8 Wikipedia page, “VP8 was released as an open and royalty-free format in May 2010 after Google acquired On2 Technologies.”

Per, “VP8 and VP9 are highly-efficient video compression technologies (video "codecs") developed by the WebM Project. Anyone may use these codecs for no charge.”


VP8 Data Format and Decoding Guide (RFC 6386)

According to WebM Project, VP8 Data Format and Decoding Guide (RFC 6386) was published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in November 2011. The RFC 6386 document describes the VP8 format, stating "this document is not an Internet Standard Track specification; it is published for informational purposes."

Technical Overview of VP8, an Open Source Video Codec for the Web

VP8 Source and Contribute Code downloads at

Adoption, the WebRTC Glossary VP8, states “VP8 is available in all browsers that support WebRTC. It is one of the mandatory to implement video codecs in WebRTC.”

According to the, “VP8 and VP9 deliver high-quality video while efficiently adapting to varying processing and bandwidth conditions across a broad range of devices. High-efficiency bandwidth usage and reduced storage requirements can help publishers recognize immediate cost savings. Also, the relative simplicity of VP8/VP9 makes it easy to integrate into existing environments, and requires comparatively little manual tuning in the encoder to produce high-quality results.”

VP8 Wikipedia page states, “Opera, Firefox, Chrome, and Chromium support playing VP8 video in the HTML5 video tag...VP8 can multiplexed into the Matroska-based container format WebM along with Vorbis and Opus audio. The image format WebP (fdd000577) is based on VP8’s intra-frame coding.”

The Reference Implementation, libvpx, the free software video codec from Google, provides software implementation for the VP8 and VP9 codec formats., VP8 Implementations, provides list of encoders and decoders, software and hardware.

Up-to-date browser support for VP8 (WebP image format, based on VP8 video format) on

5KPlayer is a downloadable VP8/VP9 video player for decoding and playback of MKV/WebM files on Mac and Windows.

Comments welcome.

    Licensing and patents

VP8 Patent Cross-License, “The VP8 Cross-License Agreement helps create a royalty- free ecosystem for VP8 and allows the web community to further support the WebM Project.”

According to Sean Cassidy's An Analysis of VP8, a New Video Codec for the Web, available for download from RIT Scholar Works, 2011, VP8 has a “perpetual patent grant – something which gives the implementor a no- charge, royalty-free, irrevocable patent license to use or sell VP8, and the official reference implementation is open source.”

Comments welcome.


Depends upon algorithms and tools to read. Per, VP8 File Editor, “To edit a file with the VP8 extension, we usually need dedicated software.”

Flixier is an online WebM Editor.

Zoom Player Max media player and CodecVisa analyzer are downloadable software that support VP8 video codec.

Comments welcome.


Supports the inclusion of metadata, but little to no information found describing VP8 metadata.

In An Analysis of VP8, a New Video Codec for the Web (available for download from RIT Scholar Works, 2011, Sean Cassidy wrote “In VP8, a plane is a set of two-dimensional data with metadata describing the type of that data.”

Comments welcome.

External dependencies

None beyond availability of supporting software.

Comments welcome.

Technical protection considerations


Comments welcome.

Quality and functionality factors Explanation of format description terms

Moving Image
Normal rendering

Good support. provides the VP8 Encode Parameter Guide detailing some encoder controls, along with a sample encoder, command line usage, and parameter summaries. “Different encoders or tools will map these controls in different ways,” but they are provided to give users “idea of what to look for.”

Vivid Labs Team a, wrote in Proof of Transcoding as a New Consensus Mechanism, 2019, “Today some of the most utilized codecs are H265. H264, VP9, and VP8 because they achieve high degrees of compression... High-quality compression is essential because it transforms large video files into smaller files while preserving a majority of the quality of the original file. Smaller video files require less storage, which makes it easier to distribute them across many platforms, and makes the end-user playback experience seamless.”

According to Mike R. in RTMP Streaming without Flash: Why the Real-Time Messaging Protocol Still Matters, Updated May 2021, “The media server does important transcoding work behind the scenes to make this smooth cross-platform experience possible. In a process known as transmuxing, the server repackages the original media into many different versions of varying resolution, quality, and bitrate, and even outputs multiple delivery protocols like HLS, m3U8, and VP8 to meet the needs of different playback devices.” When users switch from one resolution to another (I.e., 480p to 720p) on a streaming service ( they are asking the service to play back the same video but a different (resolution in this example) file.

Comments welcome.

Clarity (high image resolution)

Varies according to encoding. Per RFC 6386 document, “In a complete video playback system, the displayed frames may or may not be identical to the reconstructed frames. Many systems apply a final level of filtering (commonly referred to as postprocessing) to the reconstructed frames prior to viewing. Such postprocessing has no effect on the decoding and reconstructions of subsequent frames (which are predicted using the completely specified reconstructed frames) and is beyond the scope of this document. In practice, the nature and extent of this sort of postprocessing is dependent on both the taste of the user and on the computational facilities of the playback environment.”

Comments welcome.

Functionality beyond normal rendering, Alpha Channel - defines method supporting WebM video with VP8 alpha channel information on supported browsers.

File type signifiers and format identifiers Explanation of format description terms

Tag Value Note
Filename extension Not applicable.   
Internet Media Type video/vp8
Per VP8 Wikipedia.
Pronom PUID See note.  No PRONOM PUID as of May 2023.
Wikidata Title ID Q1063970
VP8, open and royalty-free video coding format. RFC 6386On2, TrueMotion VP8. (
Wikidata Title ID Q26259220
libvpx, codec library implementing VP8 and VP9 encoders and decoders. VP8/VP9 Codec SDK, WebM Project VP8/VP9 Codec, vpxenc, vpxdec. (
Wikidata Title ID Q47303825
RFC 7741: RTP Payload Format for VP8 Video. Request for comments publication, RFC7741, RTP Payload Format for VP8 Video. (
Wikidata Title ID Q47483716
RFC 6386: VP8 Data Format and Decoding Guide. Request for comments publication, RFC6386, VP8 Data Format and Decoding Guide. (
Wikidata Title ID Q111586188
ffvp8, FFmpeg decoder for the VP8 video format. (

Notes Explanation of format description terms


Previous Format Versions:

According to’s On2 page, “Founded in 1992 as The Duck Corporation, it was combined with another company in 1999 to become In 2001, it was renamed On2 Technologies, and in 2010 was acquired by Google. On2's TrueMotion was its first codec line for full-screen CD and DVD compression. Subsequent codecs used the VP designation such as VP3, VP4, VP5, VP6, etc.”


VP8 was initially developed by On2 Technologies and released September 13, 2008, as On2 TrueMotion VP8. According to Wikipedia, On2 Technologies was a small, publicly traded company that designed video codec technology. It was acquired by Google in February of 2010. On2’s VP8 technology became the core of Google’s WebM video file format.

Format specifications Explanation of format description terms

Useful references


Last Updated: 05/18/2023