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Friday, May 04, 2018
ECMA Proposes Royalty-free Animated JPEG Standard

The Ecma International is planning to launch a standardization project on animated JPEG-1 (aJPEG) pictures, a format said to be superior to conventional the animated gif.

This standard will be an extension to the popular standard of JPEG (ITU-T T.81ŽISO/IEC 10918-1) on the analogy of animated GIFs. At present JPEG-1 does not offer that functionality yet, which is particularly popular on pictures taken by smart mobile phones.

The proposed topic and architecture was originally presented to the JPEG Committee in 2016. Though it has received general support for the idea, due to resource problems the work could not be carried out there. Therefore ECMA proposal is to create a joint independent group called "aJPEG Alliance" of Ecma, ISO/IEC and ITU experts that would work as a Royalty Free Task Group (RFTG) with the Ecma working methods and rules under an Ecma TC.

The Animated Portable Network Graphics (APNG) file format is an extension to the Portable Network Graphics (PNG) specification. It allows for animated PNG files that work similarly to animated GIF files, while supporting 24-bit images and 8-bit transparency not available for GIFs. It also retains backward compatibility with non-animated PNG files.

The first frame of an APNG file is stored as a normal PNG stream, so most standard PNG decoders are able to display the first frame of an APNG file. The frame speed data and extra animation frames are stored in extra chunks (as provided for by the original PNG specification).

Animated GIF supports up to 256 colors per frame and only lossless compression. Currently, there are also the APNG and the Multiple-image Network Graphics (MNG) formats, but they are not so popular.

ECMA's target is to complete the aJPEG specifications by September 2019.

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