YouTube VR Videos To Get More Realistic With Better 360-Degree Projection

YouTube #VR Videos To Get More Realistic With Better 360-Degree Projection

  • YouTube is attempting to improve the quality of its virtual reality (VR) videos, and it aims to do so using improved projection technology, the company announced Tuesday.
  • Read: YouTube VR App Now Available On Play Store

    Quality is a crucial determiner in VR videos as they use 360-degree projection on a VR headset and project the videos in the form of three-dimensional images.

  • All these factors make creating engaging VR videos a tough balance to achieve, and therefore, it is interesting to see what the company has on offer going forward.
  • But regular VR projection, called the equirectangular projection, generally gets the fit wrong, which results in the video looking different from different angles — high quality at the top and bottom, but lower in the middle (which is actually what people largely see when they watch a video).
  • Given the growth of the VR industry, with companies such as HTC selling more than 100,000 VR headsets, it makes sense for YouTube to invest in creating more engaging VR videos.

The company is working with the Google Daydream team to make VR videos more realistic, it said Tuesday.

@RickKing16: YouTube #VR Videos To Get More Realistic With Better 360-Degree Projection

YouTube is attempting to improve the quality of its virtual reality (VR) videos, and it aims to do so using improved projection technology, the company announced Tuesday.

“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,” Anjali Wheeler, software engineer, YouTube, said in the official blog post.

Read: YouTube VR App Now Available On Play Store

Quality is a crucial determiner in VR videos as they use 360-degree projection on a VR headset and project the videos in the form of three-dimensional images. This makes frame drops and fuzziness in videos more evident than it would be in regular YouTube videos.

These videos also need a large number of pixels per video frame to create an engaging viewing experience for the consumer without distortion. The ideal ratio is 60 pixels per degree of VR videos. Another factor, which determines the quality of VR videos, is internet speeds, as these videos tend to consume more bandwidth than regular videos.

All these factors make creating engaging VR videos a tough balance to achieve, and therefore, it is interesting to see what the company has on offer going forward.

To project VR videos on a headset, a 360-degree view needs to be fit on a rectangular video surface. But regular VR projection, called the equirectangular projection, generally gets the fit wrong, which results in the video looking different from different angles — high quality at the top and bottom, but lower in the middle (which is actually what people largely see when they watch a video).

So, YouTube is switching to a new technology it created called the “Equi-angular Cubemap” or EAC. This technology will distribute pixels across the video surface equally, resulting in a uniform video watching experience.

In addition to this, the company is using a Projection Independent Mesh, a 3D mesh that will help in texture mapping. In simple terms, the viewer will have a wider field of view while watching VR videos. The company said that has customized the mesh so it can run EAC projection smoothly on varying data speeds. 

It claimed that in tests it conducted without informing the subjects about the technology, a majority found the EAC projection to be much more engaging.

The changes in VR video quality have been rolled out for Android smartphones and will be soon rolled out for iOS devices and PCs.

Read: Google Chrome Gets WebVR Functionality

VR has been slowly picking up since the second half of 2016, with more companies announcing their VR-based products and coming up with more VR offerings such as games and movies. Sony, Samsung, Oculus, HTC and Google already offer their VR headsets, while Microsoft is expected to come out with HoloLens-based VR headsets in 2017. Given the growth of the VR industry, with companies such as HTC selling more than 100,000 VR headsets, it makes sense for YouTube to invest in creating more engaging VR videos.

The company announced Feb. 27 that users watched over 1 billion hours of videos on the video-sharing platform every day, which is close to the number of hours of content watched on TV every day in the U.S. It also dwarfed 116 million hours watched on Netflix and 100 million hours streamed on Facebook daily.

YouTube VR Videos To Get More Realistic With Better 360-Degree Projection

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