Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Accelerating YouTube Playback

The YouTube Players team’s goal is to make sure that watching videos online is as enjoyable an experience as possible. As a viewer, maximizing enjoyment usually involves some tradeoffs: sure, you can watch a 1080p high definition version of the newest movie trailer, but that might mean choppy playback as your computer strains to keep up with the more demanding processing required. We wanted to let you know about some changes we’re making to help minimize those tradeoffs, so that you can watch smoother, higher-quality video from your existing devices.

Adobe’s recently announced Flash Player 10.2 release supports a new, more efficient video display mechanism known as the Stage Video API. The full details of how and why Stage Video speeds up video display can be found in Adobe’s technical documentation. The Players Team will be gradually experimenting with Stage Video playbacks on YouTube.com in the coming weeks, but as a developer using the ActionScript 3 Player APIs, you can enable Stage Video playback for your embedded video right away; simply add the wmode=direct parameter to the player URL that you’re using to reference the YouTube video. You’ll need the Flash Player 10.2 installed to take advantage of the accelerated playback, but playbacks will work for users with older Flash Player versions as well.

The Players Team knows that Stage Video for Flash playbacks is just one path to take toward improving video playback performance across the web. For example, YouTube playbacks using the new <iframe> embeds will automatically benefit as more and more (and more) modern browsers add hardware acceleration for the native HTML5 <video> element.

Cheers,
-Jeff Posnick, on behalf of the YouTube Players team
(Updated 2011-02-09 to reflect the production release of Flash Player 10.2.)