Category Archives: YouTube Blogs

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Enjoy your personal concert with VR videos on YouTube

Any music fan will tell you, there’s nothing better than seeing your favorite band live. But if you’re one of the millions of people who can’t make it to a show, YouTube is giving you the next best thing. We’re working with some amazing artists to bring you live performances and music videos in VR.

And today Gorillaz – hailed by “The Guinness Book Of World Records” as the planet’s Most Successful Virtual Act – have announced their return with the release of a new video directed by Jamie Hewlett, featuring four tracks from their highly anticipated forthcoming album “Humanz.” The epic six-minute animated film - titled “Saturnz Barz (Spirit House)” - provides an extraordinary cutting-edge VR experience to include the track “Saturnz Barz” in full, plus highlights of “Ascension,” “Andromeda” and “We Got The Power.” You can check it out here fresh from the oven.


With these new immersive experiences, you can transport yourself to top music festivals and killer concerts, without having to deal with the crowds. This weekend, you can check out Ultra Music Festival live, with a set from Hardwell live streaming in 360 degrees. And you can already experience highlights from Coachella on YouTube, without having to bear the heat of the desert.

We've also been working with some of your favorite artists to experiment with new ways to tell the story behind their songs and allow you to be immersed in the video. Sit next to Sampha on the piano bench while he performs “(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano.” Step into Hunter Hayes’ recording studio as he builds each musical component of his current single, “Yesterday’s Song.” Check out Young The Giant’s latest single, “Silvertongue,” as though you were in the audience. Watch The Naked & Famous official music video for “Higher” shot at the YouTube Space LA. And you can use VR to travel behind the scenes, too. Check out Florida Georgia Line as they shoot “May We All” at the Tennessee National Raceway in Hohenwald.


You can watch these videos using the YouTube VR app available on Daydream or with Google Cardboard. If you don’t have a headset, don’t worry, you can still get the 360-degree video experience on your mobile phone or desktop. It’ll be like you’re virtually there with your favorite band.

Vivien Lewit, Global Head Artist Relations, recently watched "The Range - Florida (Official 360° Video)."

Source: YouTube Blog


Visualizing Sound Effects

At YouTube, we understand the power of video to tell stories, move people, and leave a lasting impression. One part of storytelling that many people take for granted is sound, yet sound adds color to the world around us. Just imagine not being able to hear music, the joy of a baby laughing, or the roar of a crowd. But this is often a reality for the 360 million people around the world who are deaf and hard of hearing. Over the last decade, we have been working to change that.

The first step came over ten years ago with the launch of captions. And in an effort to scale this technology, automated captions came a few years later. The success of that effort has been astounding, and a few weeks ago we announced that the number of videos with automatic captions now exceeds 1 billion. Moreover, people watch videos with automatic captions more than 15 million times per day. And we have made meaningful improvements to quality, resulting in a 50 percent leap in accuracy for automatic captions in English, which is getting us closer and closer to human transcription error rates.

But there is more to sound and the enjoyment of a video than words. In a joint effort between YouTube, Sound Understanding, and Accessibility teams, we embarked on the task of developing the first ever automatic sound effect captioning system for YouTube. This means finding a way to identify and label all those other sounds in the video without manual input.

We started this project by taking on a wide variety of challenges, such as how to best design the sound effect recognition system and what sounds to prioritize. At the heart of the work was utilizing thousands of hours of videos to train a deep neural network model to achieve high quality recognition results. There are more details in a companion post here.

As a result, we can now automatically detect the existence of these sound effects in a video and transcribe it to appropriate classes or sound labels. With so many sounds to choose from, we started with [APPLAUSE], [MUSIC] and [LAUGHTER], since these were among the most frequent manually captioned sounds, and they can add meaningful context for viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing.

So what does this actually look like when you are watching a YouTube video? The sound effect is merged with the automatic speech recognition track and shown as part of standard automatic captions.


Click the CC button to see the sound effect captioning system in action

We are still in the early stages of this work, and we are aware that these captions are fairly simplistic. However, the infrastructural backend to this system will allow us to expand and easily apply this framework to other sound classes. Future challenges might include adding other common sound classes like ringing, barking and knocking, which present particular problems -- for example, with ringing we need to be able to decipher if this is an alarm clock, a door or a phone as described here.

Since the addition of sound effect captions presented a number of unique challenges on both the machine learning end as well as the user experience, we continue to work to better understand the effect of the captioning system on the viewing experience, how viewers use sound effect information, and how useful it is to them. From our initial user studies, two-thirds of participants said these sound effect captions really enhance the overall experience, especially when they added crucial “invisible” sound information that people cannot tell from the visual cues. Overall, users reported that their experience wouldn't be impacted by the system making occasional mistakes as long as it was able to provide good information more often than not.

We are excited to support automatic sound effect captioning on YouTube, and we hope this system helps us make information useful and accessible for everyone.

Noah Wang, software engineer, recently watched "The Expert (Short Comedy Sketch)."

Strengthening YouTube for advertisers and creators

At YouTube, we believe everyone should have a voice. Since our founding, free expression has been one of our core values, allowing creators to share their ideas with over a billion fans from around the world. We also believe that creators should have an opportunity to earn a living from their channels and we are proud that many do. For almost a decade, we’ve shared advertising revenue with our creators based on the success of their videos and that revenue has created a vibrant new economy, where anyone with a camera or a phone can turn their creativity into a career.

But there’s a difference between the free expression that lives on YouTube and the content that brands have told us they want to advertise against. Our advertiser-friendly content policies set the tone for which videos can earn revenue, ensuring that ads only appear where they should. To make sure we apply this process fairly, we also give creators the chance to appeal if they feel any of their videos have been unfairly demonetized. We take these steps because advertiser confidence is critical to the financial success of our creators.

After listening to strong feedback from our advertisers, today we announced a number of actions and we want to explain what these changes might mean for you, our YouTube creators:
  • Tougher stance on hate speech: Both creators and advertisers are concerned about hate speech and so are we. To protect the livelihoods of our creators and to strengthen advertiser confidence, we will be implementing broader demonetization policies around videos that are perceived to be hateful or inflammatory. This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is harassing or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories.
  • Strengthening advertiser controls for video and display ads: In the coming weeks, we will add new advertiser controls that make it easier for brands to exclude higher risk content and fine-tune where they want their ads to appear.
  • Accelerating appeals: Today, any creator whose video is demonetized can launch an appeal to have their video reviewed. Moving forward, we plan to improve the process so that reviews can happen even faster.
  • Safeguarding creators in our YouTube Partner Program: Since we rolled out the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) ten years ago, it has enabled millions of creators to earn revenue and build a new generation of emerging media businesses. We want to protect our creators so we will be introducing new YPP safeguards to prevent abuse that hurts their earnings, like the impersonation of their channels.
  • Restating our commitment to diversity: Groups that have long been underrepresented in traditional media have used YouTube to reach new audiences, increasing empathy and tolerance while providing a lifeline of support to diverse communities. We stand by our diverse creators and communities and their right to express themselves. Recently, we’ve heard concerns that some LGBTQ content may be restricted from the small subset of users who have optionally chosen to enable YouTube’s Restricted Mode. Earlier today we posted a blog that further explains how this feature works and we’re committed to ensuring our systems don’t discriminate.
We want YouTube to remain a place where creators can express themselves while earning revenue, where fans can discover new voices, and where advertisers have a place to reach engaged audiences. To keep that incredible dynamic going, advertisers have to feel confident their ads are only appearing where they should. Although ad restrictions can feel limiting, they’re essential to protecting the livelihood of creators. While YouTube will always be home to videos that meet our community guidelines, today’s measures will help ensure the virtuous cycle between creators, fans and advertisers remains strong for years to come.

Posted by Ariel Bardin, VP Product Management

Restricted Mode: How it works and what we can do better


Over the last several months, and most definitely over the last few days from LGBTQ and other communities, we’ve gotten lots of questions around what Restricted Mode is and how it works. We understand that this has been confusing and upsetting, and many of you have raised concerns about Restricted Mode and your content being unfairly impacted. The bottom line is that this feature isn’t working the way it should. We’re sorry and we’re going to fix it.

We introduced Restricted Mode back in 2010 as an optional feature to help institutions like schools as well as people who wanted to better control the content they see on YouTube. We designed this feature to broadly restrict content across more mature topics, whether these are videos that contain profanity, those that depict images or descriptions of violence, or discussion of certain diseases like addictions and eating disorders. Today, about 1.5 percent of YouTube’s daily views come from people who have Restricted Mode turned on. But we know this isn’t about numbers; it’s about the principle of anyone having access to important content and different points of view. You can read more about how Restricted Mode works here.

Our system sometimes make mistakes in understanding context and nuances when it assesses which videos to make available in Restricted Mode. For instance, the following videos are examples of where we got it wrong: Ash Hardell’s “Her Vows,” Calum McSwiggan’s “Coming Out To Grandma,” Jono and Ben’s “Woman interrupted during BBC interview,” and Tegan and Sara’s “BWU [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO].”

While the system will never be 100 percent perfect, as we said up top, we must and will do a better job. Thanks to your feedback, we’ve manually reviewed the example videos mentioned above and made sure they’re now available in Restricted Mode -- we’ll also be using this input to better train our systems. It will take time to fully audit our technology and roll out new changes, so please bear with us. There’s nothing more important to us than being a platform where anyone can belong, have a voice and speak out when they believe something needs to be changed. We truly appreciate your help keeping the YouTube community active and engaged on topics that matter to creators and YouTube fans alike.

Posted by Johanna Wright, VP of Product Management, YouTube

Keep fans engaged with Cards & End Screens as we say goodbye to Annotations Editor


We’re committed to helping you reach more fans and keep them engaged. That’s why we built products like Cards and End Screens, which are mobile-friendly tools that let you poll your audience, link to merchandise, recommend videos, and more.

Based on your feedback, we’ve made Cards and End Screens even better over time. You told us you wanted Cards to link to videos within a playlist. So we made it happen. For End Screens, you asked for the ability to import End Screens from other videos and use smart elements. So we incorporated it. We’ll continue to listen to your inputs, as always.

As adoption of End Screens and Cards has grown, the use of annotations has decreased by over 70 percent. For this reason, the time has come to discontinue Annotations Editor. Effective starting May 2, you’ll no longer be able to add new or edit existing annotations, only delete them. Existing annotations will continue to show when using a desktop computer. We wanted to give you advanced notice so you can adjust. So why now?

  • End Screens and Cards work on mobile: Annotations Editor launched in 2008, before the world went mobile. With 60 percent of YouTube’s watchtime now on mobile, why go through the work of creating annotations that won’t even reach the majority of your audience? End Screens and Cards work on mobile and desktop, giving you more bang for your buck.
  • End Screens and Cards are more engaging for your viewers: End Screens and Cards generate seven times more clicks across YouTube than annotations. In fact, viewers generally don’t love annotations, and on average they close 12 annotations before they click on one of them. And more and more viewers turn off annotations altogether.
  • End Screens are easier to create: You told us that adding annotations at the end of your videos is hard. With End Screens that process is now much quicker and easier -- in fact, up to ten times quicker. You can now import End Screens from other videos or use dynamic overlays to save yourself even more time.

If you haven’t already, join the many creators who are using End Screens or Cards. As always, thank you for helping build a better YouTube.

Posted by Muli Salem, Product Manager, recently watched "Asian Safari Adventure."

Improving VR videos

At YouTube, we are focused on enabling the kind of immersive and interactive experiences that only VR can provide, making digital video as immersive as it can be. In March 2015, we launched support for 360-degree videos shortly followed by VR (3D 360) videos. In 2016 we brought 360 live streaming and spatial audio and a dedicated YouTube VR app to our users.

Now, in a joint effort between YouTube and Daydream, we're adding new ways to make 360 and VR videos look even more realistic.

360 videos need a large numbers of pixels per video frame to achieve a compelling immersive experience. In the ideal scenario, we would match human visual acuity which is 60 pixels per degree of immersive content. We are however limited by user internet connection speed and device capabilities. One way to bridge the gap between these limitations and the human visual acuity is to use better projection methods.

Better Projections

A Projection is the mapping used to fit a 360-degree world view onto a rectangular video surface. The world map is a good example of a spherical earth projected on a rectangular piece of paper. A commonly used projection is called equirectangular projection. Initially, we chose this projection when we launched 360 videos because it is easy to produce by camera software and easy to edit.

However, equirectangular projection has some drawbacks:

  • It has high quality at the poles (top and bottom of image) where people don’t look as much – typically, sky overhead and ground below are not that interesting to look at.
  • It has lower quality at the equator or horizon where there is typically more interesting content.
  • It has fewer vertical pixels for 3D content.
  • A straight line motion in the real world does not result in a straight line motion in equirectangular projection, making videos hard to compress.




Drawbacks of equirectangular (EQ) projection

These drawbacks made us look for better projection types for 360-degree videos. To compare different projection types we used saturation maps. A saturation map shows the ratio of video pixel density to display pixel density. The color coding goes from red (low) to orange, yellow, green and finally blue (high). Green indicates optimal pixel density of near 1:1. Yellow and orange indicate insufficient density (too few video pixels for the available display pixels) and blue indicates wasted resources (too many video pixels for the available display pixels). The ideal projection would lead to a saturation map that is uniform in color. At sufficient video resolution it would be uniformly green.

We investigated cubemaps as a potential candidate. Cubemaps have been used by computer games for a long time to display the skybox and other special effects.

eqr_saturation.png


Equirectangular projection saturation map

cubemap_saturation.png


Cubemap projection saturation map

In the equirectangular saturation map the poles are blue, indicating wasted pixels. The equator (horizon) is orange, indicating an insufficient number of pixels. In contrast, the cubemap has green (good) regions nearer to the equator, and the wasteful blue regions at the poles are gone entirely. However, the cubemap results in large orange regions (not good) at the equator because a cubemap samples more pixels at the corners than at the center of the faces.

We achieved a substantial improvement using an approach we call Equi-angular Cubemap or EAC. The EAC projection’s saturation is significantly more uniform than the previous two, while further improving quality at the equator:

eac_saturation.png


Equi-angular Cubemap - EAC

As opposed to traditional cubemap, which distributes equal pixels for equal distances on the cube surface, equi-angular cubemap distributes equal pixels for equal angular change.

The saturation maps seemed promising, but we wanted to see if people could tell the difference. So we asked people to rate the quality of each without telling them which projection they were viewing. People generally rated EAC as higher quality compared to other projections. Here is an example comparison:

EAC vs EQ


Creating Industry Standards

We’re just beginning to see innovative new projections for 360 video. We’ve worked with Equirectangular and Cube Map, and now EAC. We think a standardized way to represent arbitrary projections will help everyone innovate, so we’ve developed a Projection Independent Mesh.

A Projection Independent Mesh describes the projection by including a 3D mesh along with its texture mapping in the video container. The video rendering software simply renders this mesh as per the texture mapping specified and does not need to understand the details of the projection used. This gives us infinite possibilities. We published our mesh format draft standard on github inviting industry experts to comment and are hoping to turn this into a widely agreed upon industry standard.

Some 360-degree cameras do not capture the entire field of view. For example, they may not have a lens to capture the top and bottom or may only capture a 180-degree scene. Our proposal supports these cameras and allows replacing the uncaptured portions of the field of view by a static geometry and image. Our proposal allows compressing the mesh using deflate or other compression. We designed the mesh format with compression efficiency in mind and were able to fit EAC projection within a 4 KB payload.

The projection independent mesh allows us to continue improving on projections and deploy them with ease since our renderer is now projection independent.

Spherical video playback on Android now benefits from EAC projection streamed using a projection independent mesh and it will soon be available on IOS and desktop. Our ingestion format continues to be based on equirect projection as mentioned in our upload recommendations.

Anjali Wheeler, Software Engineer, recently watched "Disturbed - The Sound Of Silence."

Step into the games with new VR videos

YouTube’s become a global destination for people who love watching gaming videos. And we want to take gamers’ viewing experience a step further by exploring how VR videos can put them right at the center of the action. That’s why we partnered with gaming creators and publishers to experiment with the production of 360 and VR videos. What’s come out of those experiments, from “League of Legends” to “Minecraft,” was pretty exciting.

From Let's Play to trailers, there’s a really wide range of gaming content on YouTube, and a lot of these different style videos are now also becoming available in VR. You can check out gameplay from global creators as well as gaming-themed live action videos celebrating games like “Call of Duty.”

Game publishers are also getting involved in VR gaming videos in a big way, from the immensely popular “Clash of Clans” 360-degree video by Supercell to documentaries uploaded by “World of Tanks” publisher Wargaming. Even eSports organizations are producing content for VR, uploading 360-degree content from top events like the “League of Legends” World Championship Finals.

But what if you just want to chill and watch some gaming-themed entertainment content? We got you covered with videos ranging from the classic “Red vs. Blue” series to Stampy’s “Wonder Quest.”


To give you a taste of gaming experience in VR, check out the playlist above for some of our favorite videos so far. It’s a good cross section of the kind of gaming videos we offer in VR, many of which can make you feel like you’re standing inside the game itself. You can watch these videos using the YouTube VR app available on Daydream or with Google Cardboard. If you don’t have a headset, don’t worry, you can still get the 360-degree video experience on your mobile phone or desktop.

Ryan Wyatt, Head of Gaming Content, recently watched “Clash of Clans: Hog Rider 360°.”

Source: YouTube Blog


Celebrating inspirational women around the world: #HerVoiceisMyVoice



At YouTube, we believe that voices matter. We’re committed to fostering a community where everyone’s voice can be heard. These voices inspire millions, and for so many, these stories are more than just words. From Lilly Singh on the power of girls and women supporting each other, to Kumamiki on confidence and perseverance, to Dina Tokio on embracing her identity, the more we listen to and share each other’s stories, the more we can help empower women’s voices everywhere.

That’s why, this International Women’s Day, we’re turning up the volume on female voices and honoring the impact they have on all of us. #HerVoiceIsMyVoice is a moment to celebrate and share the voices of inspirational women from around the world.


Every day around the world, women are sharing their stories, wisdom and inspiration. These everyday and extraordinary moments are at the heart of YouTube, and you can find more of them here.

Today, we invite you to share a video of a woman whose voice speaks to you. Let’s use our favorite brave, bold, or downright beautiful stories to remind our communities and ourselves just what we’re capable of. Happy International Women’s Day!

Danielle Tiedt, Chief Marketing Officer at YouTube, recently watched these amazing women.

Source: YouTube Blog


Finally, live TV made for you

There’s no question that people love TV, from live sports to breaking news to sitcoms and dramas. But the truth is, there are a lot of limitations in how to watch TV today. Unlike online video, people can't watch TV when they want, on any screen and on their terms, without commitments. Consumers have made it clear that they want live TV without all the hassle. They don’t want to worry about their DVR filling up. They don't want to miss a great game or their favorite show because they’re on the go. They tell us they want TV to be more like YouTube.

Well, we’ve got some good news! We’re bringing the best of the YouTube experience to live TV. To do this, we’ve worked closely with our network and affiliate partners to evolve TV for the way we watch today.

Meet YouTube TV. It’s live TV designed for the YouTube generation—those who want to watch what they want, when they want, how they want, without commitments.

Here’s what YouTube TV offers:
  • Live TV streaming from ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, regional sports networks and dozens of popular cable networks. YouTube TV gives you the best of live TV, from must-see broadcast shows like “Empire,” “The Voice,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Scandal,” to the live sports you want. YouTube TV includes major sports networks like ESPN and regional sports networks like Fox Sports Networks and Comcast SportsNet, so you can watch your favorite NBA or MLB teams. We’ve also partnered with local TV stations, so you’ll also get sports and local news based on where you live. And YouTube TV offers dozens of additional cable channels, so you won’t miss out on the latest news from MSNBC or Fox News, popular shows and movies from USA or FX, kids programming from the Disney Channel or Sprout, or reality TV from E! or Bravo. You can also add Showtime, or Fox Soccer Plus to your networks for an additional charge. In total, YouTube TV gives you access to more than 40 networks, listed below.
  • A cloud DVR, with no storage limits. With YouTube TV, you’ll be able to record live TV and never run out of storage. Your cloud DVR can record as many shows as you want, simultaneously, without using precious data or space on your phone and we’ll store each of your recordings for nine months.
  • A service that works great on all your screens. You can watch YouTube TV on any screen—mobile, tablet or computer—and you can easily stream to your TV with a Google Chromecast or Chromecast built-in TV. YouTube TV works on both Android and iOS. And your cloud DVR goes with you, so you can stream your recordings on any device, whenever and wherever you want.
  • YouTube Red Originals. With a YouTube TV membership, you can watch all of our YouTube Red Original series and movies right on the new YouTube TV app.
  • Six accounts, one price. Every YouTube TV membership comes with six accounts, each with its own unique recommendations and personal DVR with no storage limits. You can watch up to three concurrent streams at a time.
  • Half the cost of cable with zero commitments. A YouTube TV membership is only $35 a month and there are no commitments—you can cancel anytime.
YouTube TV will be available soon in the largest U.S. markets and will quickly expand to cover more cities across the country. Visit tv.youtube.com and sign up to find out when we’ll launch in your market.

With so much great content available on TV, we’re thrilled to build an experience that lets you enjoy it as easily as you watch YouTube. We can't wait for you to tune in.

YTTV_05_Blog.png

Christian Oestlien, Product Management Director, recently used YouTube TV to watch “The Oscars” live on ABC.

Source: YouTube Blog


You know what’s cool? A billion hours

A few years back, we made a big decision at YouTube. While everyone seemed focused on how many views a video got, we thought the amount of time someone spent watching a video was a better way to understand whether a viewer really enjoyed it. It wasn’t an easy call, but we thought it would help us make YouTube a more engaging place for creators and fans. And last year, we hit a big milestone on that journey: people around the world are now watching a billion hours of YouTube’s incredible content every single day!

Let’s put that in perspective. If you were to sit and watch a billion hours of YouTube, it would take you over 100,000 years. 100,000 years ago, our ancestors were crafting stone tools and migrating out of Africa while mammoths and mastodons roamed the Earth. If you spent 100,000 years traveling at the speed of light, you could travel from one end of the Milky Way to the other (and you wouldn’t age a day!). And if you searched for 100,000 years on YouTube, you’d find a really killer KISS track.

That’s the great thing about this milestone. It represents the enjoyment of the fantastically diverse videos that creative people make every single day. Around the world, people are spending a billion hours every day rewarding their curiosity, discovering great music, keeping up with the news, connecting with their favorite personalities, or catching up with the latest trend.

We’ve worked hard behind the scenes to make that billion-hour journey possible, but this isn’t just our milestone. It belongs to all of you, too—the global audience that tunes in every day and the creators whose videos have made YouTube the original, surprising and limitless source of entertainment it is. From all of us here at YouTube, please accept our heartfelt thanks.

Cristos Goodrow, VP of engineering at YouTube, recently watched “Secret Billionaire: The Chuck Feeney Story.”

Source: YouTube Blog