Big Media companies are investing in and buying up YouTube based MCNs (Multi-Channel Networks) for hundreds of millions of dollars. Big time YouTubers are making the leap from online to TV. Some are even making direct deals with movie studios. These companies seem to be banking BIG on YouTube as a platform and more importantly as a talent “minor league”. What they may also be banking on is the next generation of streaming video codecs.
H.264 is the most ubiquitous streaming video codec on the planet. It can play on 98% of all devices. The visual quality is very good. It plays HD content flawlessly. Its so good that companies like YouTube and Netflix are the cause of much consternation for ISPs and cable companies. Sure, they claim that the issues come down to “too much bandwidth” and “piracy”. But we know that these companies are playing dirty. With content that looks as good as TV, how are these Old Media companies supposed to retain TV customers? That’s the real threat and its getting harder every day.
We are about to enter the era of next generation video codecs. H.265 and Google’s VP9 are going to revolutionize the streaming of Ultra HD resolution video over the Internet. These new codecs are reportedly twice as efficient as H.264. Practically, that means that HD video encoded with H.265/VP9 will be
halved fifthed in size. We’re looking at a vastly improved image quality and vastly reduced bandwidth. But don’t take my word for it, make sure to select 4K from the list of playback resolutions…
I am the Finishing Editor on a web show called YouTube Nation. This “Best of YouTube” show is co-produced by YouTube and Dreamworks Animation. As far as I know we are the only show delivering 4K content daily on earth. Our Post Production Supervisor Peter Salvia (my brother) worked with Google engineers to VP9 encode all of our videos. What you’re about to view is one of the only shows on YouTube/the Internet streaming in 4K that you can actually watch in 4K. Its mixed Red Scarlet Ultra HD footage and various resolutions/codecs upscaled to Ultra HD. It will play on your “crappy” laptop and even worse internet connection.
From working with the footage on ingest to finishing the show and creating the “look”, or what I like to call Digital Neon Sleaze, this VP9 encode looks almost visually lossless. 4K playback on YouTube is here. Now. Strap in. Or as my old math teacher Mr. Wallach used to say,
Punch all the buttons and out comes a big mac.