Monday, March 3, 2008

Higher Resolution Videos on YouTube

CyberNetNews just featured a story on how YouTube has been quietly rolling out higher quality videos. While most the millions of videos are compressed at low quality settings (320x240 @ 300 Kbps) the example shown in the article, Watch High-Resolution YouTube Videos, offers a much higher quality version when you add a simple script to the URL of the video.

(Update: Photo credit - Cybernet News)

"Just add &fmt=6 onto the end of any YouTube URL. Using the skateboarding dog as an example you would take the normal URL:

and add the &fmt=6 onto the end:

The Google Operating System Blog added that, "If you append &fmt=18, YouTube downloads the video as a MP4 (H264 with AAC audio), encoded at 480x360."

Here's the Skateboarding Dog video with the "&fmt=18" added top the original URL.

This doesn't work on all YouTube videos because not all of them have a higher resolution version, but it worked on about half of the videos I checked (10:25), and I saw a noticeable difference in video quality in the number of videos. Although, the video playback choked up (on my DSL connection) due to the higher bit rate and larger file sizes and I had to pause the video and wait for it to fully download for a smooth playback.

There's a great technical discussion on the Forum on how it works and some of the common settings and file types people are using. A variety of compression techniques can be applied prior to uploading the videos to YouTube to achieve higher video quality video.