4chan adds WebM support for “better animated images”

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Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 9.53.39 am

Google’s WebM video format now has an unlikely backer. The infamous imageboard 4chan has announced that it will allow users upload WebM videos to the site, in order to provide “better animated images” support.

Because the file format is being used as an alternative to the traditional animated GIF, 4chan will only accept WebM video with no audio, that are shorter than 120 seconds long, no larger than 2048×2048 pixels, and less than 3 MB in size.

“While WebM is technically a video file format, it offers many advantages over animated GIFs – namely superior image quality, support for more than 256 colours, and reduced file size,” 4chan’s founder Christopher Poole – or moot – said in a blog post explaining the decision.

One of the biggest limitations of WebM has been browser support. Opera, Firefox and Chrome natively support the video format, while Internet Explorer and Safari do not. This is largely because the W3C were unable to decide on a file format for HTML5 video that all browsers should support to maintain interoperability, and Microsoft and Apple are backing the alternative H.264 video format.

Poole, however, notes that 86 percent of visits come from browsers that “include full or partial support for WebM” – so it’s not much of a problem for them. As well, plugins exist for Internet Explorer and Safari to support WebM.

4chan has also provided a quick guide (warning: potentially NSFW) on how to encode videos for the site.