YouTube Is Experimenting With Ultra High Def, Ultra Smooth Video Playback — Here Are The Examples


Just a few months back, YouTube bumped up the quality of the videos it hosts by allowing for gorgeous, 60 FPS video playback.

Now they’re cranking things up to an almost absurd level. 60 FPS video, on YouTube… at 4K.

The catch? It’s just something of an experiment, for now, and is limited to a reaaally tight batch of clips.

That’s okay, though — the very vast majority of videos on YouTube aren’t shot at anywhere near this resolution/framerate yet, anyway. Cameras capable of shooting 4k/60FPS footage aren’t impossible to find, but they’re generally crazy expensive and are far from the standard.

YouTube’s selection of clips are all pretty gorgeous… if your computer can handle them. You’ll need a display capable of handling 3840×2160 to take advantage of the resolution to begin with — but if the rig behind the display isn’t up to snuff, these videos will look way worse than they usually do. On a brand new Retina iMac, they’re mindbendingly beautiful. On my one-year old MacBook Air? They’re a chunky, choppy mess.

Here are some examples of 4K/60FPS on YouTube (make sure you tap that cog that shows up after you hit play and select the 4k/60FPS option. Expect buffering):

If these videos don’t run too hot on your system, don’t feel too bad: most of the computers in our office choked on them, too.

Aaaand that’s why it’s a limited experiment, for now.

If you’re wondering how to get your own videos to play back on YouTube at 4k/60FPS, the simple answer is: you can’t. It’s only enabled on 6 hand-picked videos, for now.

You can check out YouTube’s full kinda-sorta-hidden 4k60FPS playlist here.

So why are they tinkering with this now? Because they can, really — or, more accurately, because they can now. Some tweaks they’ve made as of late to their codec and processing pipeline allows them to stream video like this within reasonable bandwidth constraints, whereas before it just wasn’t feasible.