YouTube goes widescreen

Youtube wide with 4:3 contentYouTube has gone widescreen (note: this link currently breaks if your YouTube preference is for a non-US locale, eg for Aussies you end up here, which currently displays nothing).

The only catch of course is that 4:3 videos now appear letterboxed… or whatever the vertical term for letterboxed is.

My question is: why? Why not just make the player (at least on the YouTube web site) the aspect ratio of the video that it's playing?

In fact at the moment, embedded 16:9 videos still appear letterboxed; 4:3 videos “full screen” … what should happen is that the embedding code should define the player size and so match the video's aspect ratio.

Surely it can't be that hard to avoid those black bands?

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8 thoughts on “YouTube goes widescreen

  1. Chris Till

    About bloody time, and I see they’ve increased the resolution while they’re at it. Yay!

    Question is whether we have to re-upload our videos, or whether existing videos that were uploaded in full quality will automatically be re-rended (like they did when launching the high quality format)?

  2. Chris Till

    >> My question is: why?

    There’s been rumours circulating all year that YouTube are working to establish deals with movie studios, so they can provide streaming copies of movies. Seems logical to me this switch to 16:9 means this is getting darned close…

  3. daniel Post author

    That makes sense. But I still think the player should just size itself to fit the content. It’s not like a physical screen which can’t change size.

  4. Ben

    I agree this is good, but implemented badly. Why can’t the user at least decide what aspect ratio they want? Besides that most digital cameras and web cams don’t shoot native 16:9 video, plus you loose resolution if you try and crop it to shape (at 640×480 which is the best my digital camera can do).

  5. Chris Till

    >> Besides that most digital cameras and web cams don’t shoot native 16:9 video

    Not sure where you’ve been shopping, but name brand cameras have been 16:9 for a few years now. I bought mine two years ago and even then you’d have to be buying an old used camera to not see 16:9 cameras everywhere. Let alone wind forward to today and it’s standard issue – the question is whether you are getting SD or HD, 24fps or 25fps, etc… not whether it’s 16:9.

    What’s a 4:3 camera worth these days? $50? Not sure I’d even waste that much on one.

    >> Why can’t the user at least decide what aspect ratio they want?
    I’ve noticed you can be playing with URL parameters, but not via their interface. Weird…

  6. deme

    What is wrong with having a few black bars? Do you really want the player to change every time you see a new video? Because that is really messed up. I’d rather have the black bars.

  7. Ben

    I was talking about digital still cameras with video functionality and webcams, which from my experience is what most videos on youtube are captured with. And there is of course mobile phone videos galore. Sure dedicated video cameras have 16:9, but it hasn’t really trickled down into the devices most people have.

  8. Chris Till

    >> Question is whether we have to re-upload our videos, or whether existing videos that were uploaded in full quality will automatically be re-rended (like they did when launching the high quality format)?

    Turns out no, you need to re-upload your videos – not only for an even higher resolution now (720 – woohoo!) but to now send in anamorphic rather than letterbox.

    Unfortunately though, by uploading a higher resolution the lower quality version that YouTube makes ends up looking quite crap. Compare my Wedding Montage video for example, here’s the 720 “high definition” version:
    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=Own57qVcOTI

    And here’s the regular “high quality” version:
    http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=DoqJwVtxTaU

    If you watch both in their “regular” quality mode, which is what I’ve left both links to default to, the high definition version is inferior. In their respective high quality modes, however, the high definition quality is amazing.

    Shame you can’t manually upload the individual versions of a single video so that you can better tweak the quality – my original “regular” quality version outdid both of the above in regular quality mode.

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