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Web Video Creation and Optimization Forum

4K Video Comes to YouTube
That's not a typo....
travelin cat

 7:05 pm on Jul 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Today at the VidCon 2010 conference, we announced support for videos shot in 4K, meaning that now we support original video resolution from 360p all the way up to 4K. To give some perspective on the size of 4K, the ideal screen size for a 4K video is 25 feet; IMAX movies are projected through two 2k resolution projectors.

Wow! I'm not sure why you would need that much resolution, but kudos to YouTube for offering it.




 8:28 pm on Jul 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

You need a lot of bandwidth to watch a 4K video, but reports says the results are amazing. It's too much for my home connection, but I'm looking forward to trying it when I get to the office Monday.


 8:45 pm on Jul 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

Impressive, but the current bitrate Google is using is too low for a 4K video. It looks incredibly pixelated when viewed full screen on my 2560x1600 display.


 8:51 pm on Jul 10, 2010 (gmt 0)

My new PC handled the 4k video decently. However, I believe 1096p was enough.

*No complains.* A nifty addition though.

Robert Charlton

 9:36 am on Jul 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is a significant step forward.

About 10 years ago, at a "giant screen" format film conference, I saw a 4K digital image projected onto a 90-foot IMAX screen... but the technology at the time was such that it was a single frame only. The image was so sharp and clear that the audience burst into applause. It's still the sharpest digital image I've seen projected that large.

IMAX movies are projected through two 2k resolution projectors. [en.wikipedia.org]

Note that the YouTube blog isn't quite accurate here. In the quote above, I've restored the link that the YouTube blog post had to the Wikpedia entry for IMAX, which provides some clarification. YouTube is talking about digital IMAX only. Within the large format industry, IMAX digital is considered to be inferior to traditional IMAX and to other giant screen formats. Traditional IMAX is projected using a proprietary projector showing 15-perf 70mm film, with larger screens and a different aspect ratio than digital IMAX.

So, YouTube isn't going to be outdoing traditional IMAX... but the 4K line resolution (eventually with less compression) may eventually enable YouTube to compete with the 1080-line Blu-ray disc, which is the home theater competition for foreseeable future. I think this makes it very clear that Google intends to move YouTube from the desktop into the living room.

As a footnote... for a comparison of giant screen formats, see these references in the Large Format Examiner...

Large Formats [lfexaminer.com]

Digital systems have begun replacing film projection in many conventional multiplex theaters, and in a few giant-screen theaters as well. However, no existing digital system matches the image quality of any of the giant-screen film formats above.

The Shrinking IMAX Screen [lfexaminer.com]


 2:08 pm on Jul 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

So now youtube is even more of a bandwidth black hole?


 4:45 pm on Jul 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's not just bandwidth, but CPU power too. I'm going to build a new machine in Q4, but this dual CPU box maxed out when trying to run 4K.

travelin cat

 4:54 pm on Jul 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

I tried to watch one of the 4k videos on my very fast 24" iMac at full screen with a screaming cable connection and had it buffer so often that it was unwatchable. What I could see though was beautiful.


 5:06 pm on Jul 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

Hmm, my computer handled it fine...I did give the loading process a 30 second headstart though.

It looks very nice, but as far as streaming content goes I'd rather go the 1080p route with no buffer then 4k with buffer. I'm shocked YouTube is even implementing this though. Don't they lose enough money already?


 5:59 pm on Jul 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

What a gimmicky waste of time. Numbers for the sake of numbers.

Increase the standard HD formats' bitrate and encoding quality if they want to up quality. - Their 4K examples are a joke, even on a 1920px monitor the compression artifacting is terrible, worse than any 1080p should be let alone higher resolution.


 11:16 pm on Jul 11, 2010 (gmt 0)

It's not just bandwidth, but CPU power too. I'm going to build a new machine in Q4, but this dual CPU box maxed out when trying to run 4K.

funny, I guess you couldn't watch this movie on your Chrome OS netbook! google wants to take all the processing power off your desk...but pulls a move like this. haha


 5:06 am on Jul 12, 2010 (gmt 0)

Comcast's oft debated 250 gig monthly bandwidth cap isn't seeming so reasonable these days is it? :-)

but this dual CPU box maxed out when trying to run 4K

The problem there is Flash, which doesn't do a good job of using hardware acceleration.


Very, I completely agree that a better solution would be to increase the bitrate on regular HD in order to use less compression.


 3:26 pm on Jul 13, 2010 (gmt 0)

What a massive waste of network resources.

No one has a monitor or screen that is capable of showing a stream with a resolution of 4096 x 2304, so why are they offering this to the public at large?

And setzer makes a good point. Resolution is worthless if the compression needed to pipe it is so aggressive that it looks uglier than a stream with a much lower resolution.

This is premature to say the least.


 10:47 pm on Jul 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

On my 2048*1152 monitor it doesn't simply scale to half (there's a black border around image) so I was dissapointed by that. As for the compression level, that really shows when you compare the moving parts of images with those parts that are static and can show finer detail - it's a taster of what's to come years down the line (dissapointing now, but with higher bit rates it'll be amazing).

I look forward to the day when we have 4K monitors/TVs and an optical disc format that can do 4K at almost lossless quality (surely the physical media will arrive before download speeds are fast enough for all - unless BT find a way to finance 4K VOD at an exchange level). Maybe movie buffs will end up going to a local blockbuster store with a high speed SSD to rent digital copies of such movies - let's say a move is 300GB, you'll be looking at 10 minutes to transfer at top SATA III rates (probaly not fast enough, so a faster interface would be required - maybe external PCIe x16 v3 = 16GB/sec >> 20 seconds but that would need a very fast SSD).

I suppose it all comes down to who will pay enough of a premium - it'll be a long time before we see the average Joe being bothered to invest in anything beyond 1080p.


 11:33 pm on Jul 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

For many years our old CRT TVs made very little progress. Now we see new features every month. After spending nearly $1,500 on my plasma, I'm not going to run out and buy a new TV every three years.


 1:16 am on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Glad to hear that. Nothing bugs me more than the iPhone generation that rush out to buy the ever-so-slightly-different, newly released version of the perfectly working device they already have.

And let's face it, most of the time the weak link is the rubbish on TV, not the resolution in which it's showing.


 3:25 am on Jul 15, 2010 (gmt 0)

Because of the way the overzealous compression currently used for online video works, even though a movie or clip might claim (approximately) 720 or 1080 vertical pixels, the compression stops those pixels from actually being used.

So really it's a kind of marketing BS, playing to the popularity of the HD acronym among consumers.

I'm not sure if this is the case, but if YouTube's 4k video uses the same compression algorithm that they use for 720 and 1080 HD, then it is, effectively, a bitrate increase. It is not legitimate 4k video by any means... But a 4k video stream played fullscreen on, say, a 19201080 screen would appear less compressed than a regular 1080p stream on the same screen.

Unfortunately there's no way it will ever work with current versions of flash, doesn't matter how powerful your system is. Perhaps upcoming versions of flash will solve the problem.

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