Thursday, February 26, 2009

YouTube Goes AVC

In the course of my analysis of the new YouTube processing, I noticed the new videos are flash videos with AVC video and AAC audio. (Yes, I know that's redundant since the acronyms already contain a letter for video and audio.) On one hand it's a pain because it's so new it's very difficult to find a program that can play them (after download; they play fine on YouTube's player). On the other hand, the quality is much better!

For those of you that don't know, AVC is Advanced Video Coding, the standard where H.264 operates. In the past, viewers could watch an MP4 (with H.264) version of a YouTube video by typing &fmt=18 to the end of the video's link. Now the same technology is used in the now improved normal quality videos. AVC has replaced YouTube's not so impressive Sorenson H.263.

I was hoping they'd go this route. They haven't really increased the bitrate, but they have improved the technology - and due to this upgrade, you can see videos in significantly better quality - with the same connection speed. This is a wise decision, in my opinion. As I've said before: bitrate ain't everything. Better, more advanced codecs can show higher quality videos at lower bitrates.

To see the difference between the old YouTube and the new YouTube, upload a video. As soon as it goes live, you will see a temporary version with the old technology. It will look awful. After a few minutes, it will be replaced with an AVC flash video, which looks much nicer. Be happy.

YouTube is also processing videos differently, based on the content of the video. After I'm done interpreting data from test videos, I'll explain more. Stay tuned.

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