Google starts converting YouTube videos to WebM

By on April 20, 2011, 9:49 AM
Google has announced that all new videos uploaded to YouTube are now transcoded into the WebM codec, in addition to the H.264 codec. Google developed WebM, an open media file format for video and audio on the Web, and its goal is to push the world towards using it exclusively.

The search giant says it is also working to transcode YouTube's entire video catalog to WebM, focusing first on the most viewed videos on the site. So far, the company has transcoded videos that make up 99 percent of views on the site or nearly 30 percent of all videos. Using its cloud-based video processing infrastructure, Google is constantly transcoding: at busy upload times, processing power is mainly dedicated to new uploads, while at less busy times, it automatically switches some of the processing to encode older videos into WebM.

Google promises to continue to support H.264 as an important codec for video on YouTube, but we wouldn't be surprised if that changes one day. The company has been making moves to get more and more users to use WebM over H.264.

Three months ago, Google announced that it would be dropping support for H.264 in Chrome and only support WebM going forward. Days later, the search giant promised to offer WebM plug-ins for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 and Apple's Safari. The search giant has since released a WebM plug-in for IE9 but not yet for Safari.

Microsoft and Apple are betting on H.264 since it is much more widely adopted and because it has hardware decoders, which allows mobile devices to get long battery life and smooth performance for video playback. Google developed WebM as an alternative, and it has managed to get Mozilla and Opera on board because the platform is more open and is free. Microsoft has said that IE9 would only support H.264, but that it would make an exception for WebM, as long as the user installs the corresponding codec. Apple has so far stayed silent and is sticking solely with H.264.

"The world of online video is incredibly complex and dynamic," a Google spokesperson said in a statement. "Yet, our goal is to ensure that nothing stands between you and the great content you’ve always enjoyed. We’ll continue to invest in new video technology that improves the experiences for all users, builds a better infrastructure for online video, leads to greater access of information and spurs continued innovation."




User Comments: 9

Got something to say? Post a comment
Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I was thinking that, Can I test a video in the format?

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Sorry go to: http://www.youtube.com/html5

and I think you can access them through there?

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Actually it tells you how to there, use the "more search options" and change the format to WebM.

Guest said:

I'm not excited about this at all. I just started enjoying much better battery life on my notebook while watching youtube because adobe finally started using my GPU. Now I have to go back to software decoding? Uncool.

Guest said:

@guest - I'm not excited about this at all. I just started enjoying much better battery life on my notebook while watching youtube because adobe finally started using my GPU. Now I have to go back to software decoding? Uncool.

The article states it encodes in both formats, so you can use WebM or still use flash on future videos.

gobbybobby said:

How will veing able to use both work? Will there be a setting in youtube, or while watching a video can you switch format? Also is this new coding ment to be easier on us with under 1 Meg connections who struggle to Steam 380P let alone upping the quality?

Guest said:

@gobbybooby

If you don't have WebM installed, I have not doubt flash will be the default. I'm going to assume they give you an option to switch on the movie, or in the settings which version to be the default.

Jurassic4096 said:

just tested the HTML5 player (trial) using a 720p video on youtube. with it on, CPU usage goes up to 32%, usually staying around 22%. using flash, usage goes up to 18%, staying mainly in the single digits. i'll stick with flash for now.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.