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YouTube has been testing higher bitrate encodings of it videos, which you can see if you add a &fmt=8 or &fmt=16 to the video url. Historically, all videos have been delivered to the lowest common denominator: sorenson encoded 320×240. By adding &fmt=6 to the URL, the video is served up in 448×336 resolution and I’m guessing it’s using the VP6 codec (can anyone confirm?). &fmt=18 gives you the iPhone-style MP4 stream.

What videos will actually look better in the higher res format is completely dependent on the material that was uploaded to YouTube, obeying the rules of garbage in garbage out. I’ve looked at a number of videos where you can’t really tell the difference between the low and high-res versions, presumably because the uploaded video was already heavily compressed or pre-scaled to 320×240. There are a few, however, that are strikingly better, such as the skateboarding dog above.

A greasemonkey script is available which will cause Firefox to automatically load the fmt=18 version, if available. A quick install and you can be wasting time at twice the bitrate.

Watch High-Resolution YouTube Videos – [via] Link
YouTube HD Greasmonkey Script – Link


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Comments

  1. Fred says:

    Thanks. That’s a good thing to know. Also do you have the link to the skateboarding dog.

  2. Roger says:

    I believe you need the latest version of Flash to see the higher-res versions and they’re encoded in H.264 (not VP6)…

    Lately YouTube has been encoding more and more videos in H.264 for use by Apple’s products. This was announced last year.

  3. Mike says:

    Great. I can now watch a bulldog ride a skate board at slightly better quality than I could last week. And Google paid how much for this company?

  4. Diego Massanti says:

    Thanks, i have been looking for this for a while, even doing TCP dumps from an iPod.
    Thanks again.
    Diego.

  5. steveking says:

    YouTubeRobot.com today announces YouTube Robot 2.0, a tool that enables you to download video from YouTube.com onto your PC, convert it to various formats to watch it when you are on the road on mobile devices like mobile phone, iPod, iPhone, Pocket PC, PSP, or Zune.

    YouTube Robot allows you to search for videos using keywords or browse video by category, author, channel, language, tags, etc. When you find something noteworthy, you can preview the video right in YouTube Robot and then download it onto the hard disk drive. The speed, at which you will be downloading, is very high: up to 5 times faster than other software when you download a single file and up to 4 times faster when you download multiple files at a time.

    Manual download is not the only option with YouTube Robot. You may as well schedule the download and conversion tasks to be executed automatically, even when you are not around. Downloading is followed by conversion to the format of your choice and uploading videos to a mobile device (if needed). For example, you can plug in iPod, select the video, go to bed, and when you wake up next morning, your iPod will be ready to play new YouTube videos.

    Product page: http://www.youtuberobot.com
    Direct download link: http://www.youtuberobot.com/download/utuberobot.exe
    Company web-site: http://www.youtuberobot.com
    E-mail: support@youtuberobot.com

  6. Hippykitty says:

    Does anyone know how to improve the audio?

  7. Ryan Becker says:

    &fmt=22 works now because YouTube has rolled out widescreen

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