Friday, November 28, 2008

YouTube Goes Widescreen

If you visit YouTube often you might have noticed something new recently, the most popular video sharing site on the planet has (finally) gone widescreen 16x9 aspect ratio.

As all HD cameras shoot 16x9 this only makes sense. Also, most of the newer sites Out There such as or, etc are widescreen too. And even some of the ones that have been around a while like Blip.TV and Vimeo are widescreen (and this made them more popular with filmmakers and film fans).

YouTube still accepts 4x3 video - it just letterboxes it with side bars. This is what it's doing with all the legacy video on the site as well, including the entire first season of "Pink". Although we shot "Pink" Season 1 the exact same way as Season 2, we uploaded to YouTube and other places in a 4x3 letterboxed file (per their instructions at that time). So all those earlier episodes play back fine, but not full widescreen like the new content.

Here's a link to the most recent episode of "Pink" in widescreen:

And here's the embed:

Notice the embeded video is still 4x3 letterboxed. It doesn't appear they allow widescreen embeds yet - or maybe they're using it to drive traffic to their site? A good idea if so.

Another cool thing is you can select the "Watch in High Quality" link on the bottom right below the video box (on YouTube only, not embedded video). It takes a tad bit longer to download, but the resolution looks twice as good. BTW, it is NOT HD though. It is downconverted to an SD resolution, but it still looks very good.

(To see "Pink" in HD the only current way is on And we are also putting some sample HD episodes on Vimeo as well.)

In a small, weird way this is similar to re-watching your favorite movies in Blu-Ray. We just re-watched "Pink" Season 2 in widescreen (and in High Quality mode) on YouTube and it was a much better viewing experience (one note too: you can also click the "full screen" button and watch that way and it looks pretty darn good).

Sooner than later most online video will be 720p HD, but for now at least YouTube and other sites are taking steps to make the current viewing experience the best it can be.

UPDATE: Since we posted this you can now actually embed the widescreen videos. Here's the same episode above, but in widescreen (although this blog layout is narrow and it crops the right side off):

UPDATE #2: You can now watch select videos on YouTube in HD. Our last two promos we uploaded in 720p HD - and now there's a "Watch In HD" button on the bottom right of videos. So look for it and definitely watch in HD!

No comments:

Site Meter