Saturday, February 21, 2009

YouTube HD didn't last long

Back at the end of November YouTube made a big announcement about their newly enhanced support for High Definition videos: Bigger Isn't Always Better... But in This Case, We Believe It Is

Over the years we've heard a lot of feedback from you about what you'd like to change about YouTube, and the size of our video player is always top of mind. That's why today we're excited to announce a bigger YouTube player.
We're expanding the width of the page to 960 pixels to better reflect the quality of the videos you create and the screens that you use to watch them. This new, wider player is in a widescreen aspect ratio which we hope will provide you with a cleaner, more powerful viewing experience. And don't worry, your 4:3 aspect ratio videos will play just fine in this new player.

So I was surprised tonight when I uploaded an HD screencast and couldn't find an HD viewing option. I went looking for an answer and found this buried in the YouTube site issues forum:

We made improvements to standard quality for video uploads! Unless there is a large difference between standard quality and HQ , the upload will produce standard quality by default (and not HQ as before).

So, YouTube just arbitrarily decides that your HD video isn't worthy of being displayed in HD format? They may have made some improvements to their standard video format, but it still sucks in comparison to the HD versions. Screencasts shot for HD consumption are blurry and much lower quality when not viewed in HD. There is a large difference. A huge difference. That's why people produce HD in the first place.

For this reason I'm moving my screencasts to Vimeo where they can be viewed at the higher quality I intended. I know they won't have as many views as they receive on YouTube, but what are you supposed to do? I'm not going to produce them for less than optimal viewing when I know I can do better.

You can compare the quality of the videos for yourself:

Vimeo: Gmail: Displaying your geo-location in your signature.

YouTube: Gmail: Displaying your geo-location in your signature

UPDATE: Googl is now making it available in HD-- so who knows. They read my blog post? :)


RG said...
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RG said...

You are getting high quality and high definition mixed up. They are not the same thing. The change only affects people who are unable (or choose not) to shoot and upload HD video.

If you are shooting and uploading TRUE high definition video - 1280x720 (16:9) - then your videos will still show the "Watch in HD" link. Keep in mind that depending on how busy YouTube's servers are, it might take a long time for the link to show up.

Also keep in mind that the higher the bitrate the video is encoded at, the better the video quality will be. I don't upload HD video to YT, but to compensate for the new changes and keep my videos showing at a good quality, I have found that if I encode at between 3000-5000kbps, coupled with whatever "enhancements" YT has implemented, my standard quality videos look high quality by default.

Now that I've figured out a new "recipe" that works for me, I'm quite pleased.

Kevin Gamble said...

RG, agreed I had this mixed up some. But that still doesn't explain why the HD wasn't showing when it was uploaded in HD format. It did eventually show-up as HD some 14 hours after being uploaded.

Something is going on with the HD format. At least I wasn't the only one to notice this:

I might have jumped the gun in complaining, however.

RG said...

Kevin, the link you gave is to the thread about the HIGH QUALITY links being missing from videos. Again, you are confusing high quality and high definition.

To get the high definition link, the video needs to be:

Size: 1280x720
Bitrate: 3000-5000kbps
Codec: H.264*, MPEG-4, MPEG-2

Anything less is NOT high definition.

*H.264 only works with the .mov (Quicktime) video format

Kevin Gamble said...


There is discusion of HD in that thread. The comments about how something wasn't right with the HD not being an option for HD videos is talked about in that thread.

My video was absolutely HD, and it is being displayed with that option. Wy it took 16 hours for the "Watch in HD" option to be displayed is what I was questioning.


RG said...

Oh, okay. Sorry. I didn't remember the parts about the HD. I guess it's because I decided not to do HD on YT... it just takes too long and I'm not patient enough, LOL.

If you don't need or have a large YT following, there is an alternative you might want to try. It's called Viddyou. Their premium account is half of what Vimeo (where a lot of YTers are fleeing to) costs and they have more options.

At any rate, I hope things work out to your satisfaction with YT. Take care.