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Higher-Resolution YouTube Videos Currently In Testing 214

Posted by Zonk
from the someday-that-dog-shall-rule-the-world dept.
jason writes "YouTube has never really been known for streaming videos at a high resolution, but it appears that they are taking early steps at providing higher quality videos. The project was announced last year by the site's co-founder Steve Chen, and now appears to be in the earliest stages of deployment. By adding a parameter onto the end of a video's URL you're able to watch it in a higher quality (in terms of audio and video) that is actually quite noticeable. Not all videos have been converted at this point, but they do have millions upon millions of videos that they need to do."
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Higher-Resolution YouTube Videos Currently In Testing

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  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:12PM (#22625706)
    How will they handle the higher bandwidth needs???
  • Sweet (Score:5, Funny)

    by QuantumRiff (120817) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:13PM (#22625720)
    Cause dammit, I want crisp, clear flames when I'm watching a 15 year old set himself on fire!
  • Converting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RandoX (828285) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:13PM (#22625726)
    they do have millions upon millions of videos that they need to do.

    Really? I would argue that of the millions of videos on the net that I think need to be at a higher quality, very few of them are on YouTube.
    • by RobBebop (947356)

      they do have millions upon millions of videos that they need to do.

      Really? I would argue that of the millions of videos on the net that I think need to be at a higher quality, very few of them are on YouTube.

      I have uploaded to Google Video and seen noticeable quality degradation. My original filming was done with a Sony HDR-HD3, and my movies are in 3 formats. (a) HD, (b) DVD, and (c) GoogleVideo. But I can't complain because Google does me a wonderful service by letting me post streaming videos on their services for free. But in terms of quality... some of the scene that I filmed are qualitatively better with HD. I wish this was around 2 years ago. I would have had no reason to burn DVDs for my friends

    • by Rude Turnip (49495) <valuation@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:55PM (#22626340)
      Bah, I threw out my Youtube ages ago and only watch television now. I also make a point of mentioning it at every possible opportunity on message boards.

  • iPhone quality? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:16PM (#22625764)
    I'd noticed that using the iPhone to view videos on WiFi, gave a notable better picture than the web version. I think the flag is accessing the same video the iPhone makes use of.

    AppleTV also makes use of this higher level of quality I believe.
    • Re:iPhone quality? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by moderatorrater (1095745) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:27PM (#22625956)
      I think it's the resolution difference between the iphone, your tv and your computer monitor. On the iphone or your TV, the resolution is closer to that of youtube, so you don't notice the low quality, whereas on your monitor, they can devote 30 or 40 pixels to the aliasing on the low quality video. I noticed this effect a year and a half ago when watching youtube videos through a computer hooked to a tv - the video looked nearly perfect because of the resolution difference.

      Just goes to show you that sometimes, lower quality is better.
      • Re:iPhone quality? (Score:4, Informative)

        by nevali (942731) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:46PM (#22626232) Homepage
        It was widely reported (and by that I mean, Steve Jobs stood up on stage and announced it) that Google were storing all new videos as H.264 (and steadily converting old ones) for both the iPhone/iPod touch and Apple TV.

        I would imagine this initiative is related to that.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by brentonboy (1067468)
        That is why when I watch full-screen videos on my computer, I always resize the monitor resolution down to as small as it can go beforehand (800x600 for me)--it improves the quality a lot!
      • by evilviper (135110)

        on your monitor, they can devote 30 or 40 pixels to the aliasing

        It doesn't matter how many pixels there are. The combined content of those 40 pixels will look exactly the same as the equivalent 4 pixels on the smaller screen.

        I noticed this effect a year and a half ago when watching youtube videos through a computer hooked to a tv - the video looked nearly perfect because of the resolution difference.

        Your TV may look "better" because it's set for lower contrast/saturation/sharpness/etc. You can do the same

      • Nope (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday March 03, 2008 @03:59PM (#22627108)
        I carefully compared screen and iPhone versions side by side with the same video, some northern lights over the north pole. Some stars in the sky and other details were clearly visible on the iPhone that were not apparent in the web version. The resolution in terms of number of pixels, I think is actually about the same. A lot of that could just come down to compression artifacts but I thought it was interesting there was a noticeable difference.

      • The difference, though, is between watching it on the iPhone while connected to a WiFi network, and watching it on the iPhone on the Edge network. It's really a very noticeable difference in quality when I've tried the same video on both.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by anotherone (132088)
      iPhone loads the higher quality .MP4 video because it can't play .flv - Apple TV probably does the same thing for the same reason.
    • Re:iPhone quality? (Score:5, Informative)

      by dtfinch (661405) * on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:54PM (#22626322) Journal
      &fmt=18 gives you the h264 iphone video, also playable in the latest Flash 9.0 r115.
      &fmt=6 gives you the comparable quality but higher bitrate Flash video which works on older Flash players.

      And &fmt=17 gives you a crappy low bitrate very low resolution mpeg4 video for older/cheaper phones, but it isn't playable in Flash.
  • by gilesjuk (604902) <giles,jones&zen,co,uk> on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:19PM (#22625804)
    At the moment the quality is ropey at times, you can say that it's no substitute for a real DVD (When there's a copyrighted file on the site, not that that's allowed).

    Once it approaches DVD quality the lawyers will argue it's like DVD on demand.
  • by MouseR (3264) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:20PM (#22625838) Homepage
    iPhone users have been enjoying H.264-encoded YouTube for many months already.

    To be frank, I've not been on YouTube.com ever since I've gotten the iPhone. The video quality is SO much better on H.264 than crap^H^H^H^H flash players that it's worth wasting time with it. Plus, you can actually pause, fast-forward, rewind and skip to any point without it failing like flash players always do.
    • Technically.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Junta (36770)
      Flash 9 supports h264 video codec.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Knowing Flash, it may or may not be worth it.

        Apparently, recently, they've added the ability for video decoding to be hardware-accelerated, but only when the video is fullscreen. I'm still amazed that the vector graphics aren't accelerated, even if it's when Flash is a plugin -- at this rate, we'll have hardware-accelerated SVG in Firefox before we'll have properly hardware-accelerated Flash.

        Now, when YouTube has the option to also serve the video in a straight mp4 container (or similar)...
        • Flash isn't hardware accelerated because it risks breaking content already on the net, IIRC. The problem is that drivers may or may not render the same content in the same way, and designers who rely on pixel-perfect rendering will find that their stuff breaks depending on the vagaries of hardware and/or drivers.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Skuld-Chan (302449)
          Oh? http://labs.adobe.com/wiki/index.php/Astro [adobe.com]

          Not only does FlashPlayer 10 have 2D/3D acceleration, but also supports gpu's. Search youtube for Flash Player Astro for videos of it in action - its pretty cool.
    • by MostAwesomeDude (980382) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:30PM (#22625986) Homepage
      Youtube is free, and it's not worth $400 just for a little piece of black plastic that plays the same H.264 video that VLC and mplayer have had for years.

      Also Apple's Quicktime MPEG4 library has some significant deficiencies; they don't implement the entire standard.
      • by MouseR (3264)
        How can you go through life being so unloved?

        Youtube is as-free on the iPhone. And the 400$ NON-plastic thing actually lets me avoid dragging a 1000$+ laptop around, a phone and a music player all at once. So, what's your point?

        My point was that YouTube has been converting their videos to H.264 for MONTHS. In fact, they've even mentioned months ago that every new videos uploaded to YouTube was being simultaneously H.264 -encoded on-the-fly. Initially, iPhone users have seen the benefits before other viewers
  • I have a plenty fast internet connection with Verizon. Every site works great. But whether a YouTube video will cache fast enough for flawless playback- that's always up for grabs. I'd say they should take care of their own bandwidth issues before upgrading.

    Secondly- If they've got millions of videos that still need converting- I'm assuming that doesn't mean upscaling horrid quality videos- does that mean they've been keeping the originals this entire time?
  • And Google video? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zebslash (1107957) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:24PM (#22625904)
    What about Google Video? Would that work too?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by The Queen (56621)
      The project I'm involved with [thehousebetween.com] uploads to Google Video and Veoh simultaneously; we had to quit using YouTube because we're doing half-hour episodes and they have size limitations. (Where do they get off putting limits on their free service? Bah!) The director was having to chop things up into 10-minute chunks. Hence, Veoh, which is good quality but apparently not as popular.

      Google Video is a markedly lower quality than what we get on Veoh; but for folks who don't want to be forced to sign up (or who have old
  • Quality problem (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sunderland56 (621843)
    Note to YouTube: forcing your users to upload a crappy resolution compressed/downsized video, and then upsampling it to a higher resolution, does NOT produce a high-quality video. How about allowing people to upload decent quality videos in the first place??
  • by PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:35PM (#22626062) Journal
    When Youtube upgrades the quality of their VIDEOS and not the quality of the video FILES ... then I'll be interested. For now, as so many others have said ... Youtube is adequate for watching 15 year olds set themselves on fire ;)
    • by owlnation (858981) on Monday March 03, 2008 @03:06PM (#22626460)
      ... actually there is high quality content Youtube -- the copyrighted stuff.
    • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Monday March 03, 2008 @03:37PM (#22626816)
      Actually I would argue that there is plenty of worthwhile content on YouTube (and I'm not talking about unauthorized uploads of TV shows). The thing is that YouTube is like the Internet at large: there is lots of crap so if you just randomly poke around you will of course see a predominance of crap.

      If you browse YouTube a bit, and subscribe to the channels that are actually worthwhile, you will quickly build up a feed of interesting stuff with new videos every day. You can use featured videos to get some ideas of new channels to consider. On the other hand, using "most viewed" and "currently watching" to find good stuff is a waste of time. As a random example of something "worthwhile" (in my opinion), consider Wallstrip [youtube.com]--a show that does profiles on companies and stock trends, and is infused with sarcasm and wit. There are also channels that discuss science, that do decent original comedy, there is a national geographic channel, etc.

      Frankly I think YouTube is dropping the ball a bit by not providing a more useful method of finding the best content. An Amazon-like "people who subscribe/rate like you also like..." would help alot. Just as Slashdot uses various tricks (moderation, friends/foes, etc.) to bring attention to the quality material, YouTube should work harder to bring the good material to the top. The current star-ratings, comment-ratings, and ranking-by-viewing are not working very well. Frankly I don't care about the ratings of YouTube at large; I care about the ratings of a finite subset of like-minded users.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:38PM (#22626102)

    YouTube has never really been known for streaming videos at a high resolution,

    The problem isn't necessarily resolution- it's the unbelievably low bitrates, and the fact that they insist on re-encoding everything that's uploaded to them. It's apparently possible to upload FLV in a very precise way such that they don't re-encode, but they could make it a lot easier (and it's to their advantage- every video given to them ready-to-go is a video they don't have to waste incoming bandwidth, temporary disk storage, and bandwidth on.)

    What youtube *should* be doing is offering paid accounts which allow for higher bitrate videos; say, a low-end for the camwhores who want better pixels for their whining, a mid-level for guys like Will It Blend, and a top-end account for big companies that want to push their ads out on Youtube. Will It Blend, for example, would probably plunk down $20/month to get better videos.

    Sadly, though- companies like blip.tv have already filled the niche of high-quality videos, and they're getting attacked left and right by other sites like metafilter which already does revenue sharing...and there are a billion and one embedded FLV hosting sites...

    • by Klaruz (734)
      Sadly, though- companies like blip.tv have already filled the niche of high-quality videos, and they're getting attacked left and right by other sites like metafilter which already does revenue sharing...and there are a billion and one embedded FLV hosting sites...

      I think you meant metacafe [metacafe.com] the video site, and not metafilter [metafilter.com] the community weblog.

      That aside, I once read somewhere that web 2.0 companies don't want paying customers. They want eyeballs, they're easier to get than cash, and much less of a hassle
    • by tilandal (1004811)
      That doesn't make any business sense. The ones who stress the bandwidth are the viewers not the up-loaders. I'm sure Coke would love to have unlimited hosting for high res videos for just a few dollars a month. I don't think Google enjoys paying for all that extra bandwidth.
  • Conversion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tavor (845700) on Monday March 03, 2008 @02:38PM (#22626104)
    I must say, it looks nice for the most part. Though I would prefer my videos be higher resolution to begin with, not "converted" down then back up -- it would prevent those little slight things you see in the video.
  • CPU Loading (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Detritus (11846) on Monday March 03, 2008 @03:02PM (#22626414) Homepage
    High-resolution is great and wonderful, but what about the unwashed masses with older systems? I'd rather see a video play smoothly in medium resolution, rather than see it stutter in high resolution. The newer codecs seem to choke on older systems. My Mac can handle MPEG-2 without problems, but it has difficulty with some of the newer videos.
    • This has more to do with the fact that the OS X Flash Player is a steaming pile of crap, and will load even a reasonably powerful system to 100% for no reason whatsoever.

      *VLC* of all things plays FLVs considerably more efficiently than Adobe's official Flash Player.
    • by tyme (6621)
      Detritus wrote:

      High-resolution is great and wonderful, but what about the unwashed masses with older systems?


      <voice age=old disposition=grumpy politics=conservative>
      They should take a shower and get a job! Damn hippies: GET OFF MY LAWN!
        </voice>
  • I couldn't see any difference in quality between the regular version and the "fmt=6" version of the skating dog.

    • by sfraggle (212671)
      Here [youtube.com] is [youtube.com] a more dramatic example that should be a lot more obvious (one of my own videos :-).
  • by FunkyELF (609131)
    It is nice to see that they kept the originals around.
    Wonder if other sites like flickr, myspace, and facebook keep the original pictures around that are uploaded or if they're just converted (resized) once and thrown away.
    Now if only they could get the audio and video in sync.
  • by hairykrishna (740240) on Monday March 03, 2008 @03:11PM (#22626520)
    Now stage6 has gone, there's no site that provides decent quality streaming content. Youtube should get rid of the 10 min length cap and up their quality to fill the gap in the market.

    Obviously, when I say market, I mean enormous money hole...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by AutopsyReport (856852)
      I think YouPorn.com has this enormous gap / money hole thing you talk about filled already...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by digitalhermit (113459)
      Yup. Same here.

      Funny thing is that I would gladly pay $40/month for a site like Stage6. I pay around $60/month currently for cable television but rarely watch it because the shows I like are inconvenient to watch. Yeah, there's MythTV and Tivo, but there's rarely a time when I'll sit down and plan what I'm going to watch. I'd much rather browse and get that instant gratification. It would be great if the producers of these shows could come to some advertising/subscription agreement. I have looked at iTunes,
    • by pavon (30274) on Monday March 03, 2008 @04:22PM (#22627382)

      Obviously, when I say market, I mean enormous money hole...
      At Google's next shareholder conference call:

      Google: Good news! By increasing video quality and duration we've managed to double YouTube's profits over the last quarter.
      Investor: Wait, didn't YouTube have negative profits last quarter?
      Google: Ah yes, that would be the bad news.
    • You have to be a paying subscriber on it, but it looked like they got rid of it according to this [google.com].
  • vimeo.com has had hi-def for a long time, in fact I don't think you can even upload lo-def there.
  • you're able to watch it in a higher quality (in terms of audio and video)

    Damn, and I thought that parameter would make the videos funnier.
  • The DSL provider for my area is finally solid enough to handle Youtube videos reliably. I finally felt like I was part of this internet community for the first time. But now if everybody starts uploading bigger files to the web, I can see myself having to go back to living in the "Downloading, Please Wait" ghetto.

    Video quality means very little to me. I mean, how high-resolution does anybody really need John Stewart's head?


    -FL

  • I don't see it.

    But it looks like the Skateboarding Dog video is pretty poor quality [imageshack.us] to begin with. Big blurred deinterlaced frames are still blurred deinterlaced frames, regardless of the number of bits you throw at it.
  • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Monday March 03, 2008 @04:15PM (#22627270) Homepage Journal
    I was checking out anime OP/ED videos a while back for a series I had started watching and came across someone that has somehow tricked youtube into letting ultra-high resolution videos on the site.

    Here's an example: http://youtube.com/watch?v=2Vtrmpol390 [youtube.com]

    Notice that the "clock" on the player says its 9:59 long. Note that the streaming hiccups and stutters because the actual video is only 1:30 long -- just like any other anime OP. The time-code computation appears to be totally off for this video, but the quality is fantastic. Listen with good headphones -- the audio and video quality are both fantastic in this video.

    Now compare to a "normal" youtube version: http://youtube.com/watch?v=B5PoF34qM0o [youtube.com]

    This person's other movies are all other anime OP/ED sections that all say they are around 10 minutes long, but in reality are all 1:30 or so.

    So it seems this person has figured out how to exploit something in youtubes video analysis/recoder to get ultra-high quality audio/video, at the expense of breaking the media-length calculations.
  • I watched the linked video and was not impressed. Yes, it looked slightly better than most YouTube vids, but that is like saying TacoBell tastes slightly better than dog poop. My complaints:

    1) Poor interlacing. This may be a result of the source video, but the skateboarding dog video suffers from heavy interlacing artifacts - ghosting and double images.

    2) Still looks like crap full-screen. This has little to do with hardware acceleration and scaling support, and a lot to do with me having a 30" 2560x
  • Actually - I would be more supportive if youtube came up with a way to make the comments section in a lower definition.
  • Oh great... (Score:5, Funny)

    by coolhaus (186994) <coolhaus@gmail.ELIOTcom minus poet> on Monday March 03, 2008 @04:53PM (#22627730)
    Now I can get rickrolled with more pixels than before.
  • ... all my ISP needs to do is upgrade their network enough to stream the low quality videos at peek times and we will be getting somewhere!

    BTW, my ISP is Virgin. 20 meg, my arse.
  • Competition (Score:3, Informative)

    by Monsieur_F (531564) <ffx@hot m a i l . com> on Tuesday March 04, 2008 @05:27AM (#22633472) Homepage Journal
    Dailymotion announced HD support some weeks ago [dailymotion.com], so I guess Youtube wants to have that too.

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