July 2, 2014

RED Digital Cinema & YouTube Team Up to Stream 4K Videos

red youtube 4k open source vp9 codec channelRED is well-known as a proponent of 4K, and as a manufacturer of cameras capable of shooting at that resolution (and higher). It's also no stranger to the consumer 4K-viewing realm, a growing market in which the company's REDRAY streaming player competes. Now, RED has announced it has been working with YouTube to employ and improve the open-source VP9 codec for encoding of 4K media to select channels, as opposed to the comparably-efficient but legally-entangled H.265 (aka HEVC) codec. And, to kick off the party, RED has also opened up the new "Shot on RED" channel to host and aggregate RED-shot footage and films.

According to RED's Jarred Land (my emphasis):

We recently worked with YouTube engineers to enable 4K VP9 encoding, and we are very happy that all new 4k videos uploaded to select youtube channels will now be encoded with the updated VP9 CodecYou guys need to try it out, It is a considerable improvement.

To celebrate we are launching our own official Youtube channel " Shot on RED ". If you would like to be considered to have your footage in the channel spotlight email us at youtube@red.com with a link. Also, REDucation has been holding classes at the YouTube Space Los Angeles every other month and will be offering classes within YouTube's London, New York and Tokyo spaces later this year.

Here are some samples:

Peter Salvia, who works on the first daily end-to-end 4K (including distribution) YouTube series "YouTube Nation," stopped by the RED User thread to share part of his encoding workflow:

As far as best specs for creating a 4K YouTube upload, here's a link to my personal Adobe Media Encoder preset that we use on the show everyday... This is encoded on the server side to VP9 so I don't have a VP9 AME preset (yet).

Come to think of it, RED is also rather well-known for its compression -- shooters are likely familiar with the storage savings incurred by REDCODE RAW's novel wavelet compression, which in turn also makes the company's 4K REDRAY media player, and the .RED format at its heart, a feasible reality. Though users can encode for REDRAY freely, RED's codecs are important proprietary assets to the company's media ecosystem, so it's not surprising you won't be streaming .RED files to anything but a REDRAY. Then again, with VP9, why would you need to?

VP9 is an open-source codec developed by Google. As a proposed format to fill the role of "next-gen video" encoding, there's really no way around comparisons, and yes, even war analogies, to HEVC/H.265. Both H.265 and VP9 are said to be roughly equivalent in their efficiency at encoding video. This is around twice the efficiency of H.264, today's dominant delivery system of compressed video. In other words, VP9 and H.265 should reproduce the same quality as H.264 at half the bitrate -- or, allow double the resolution at the same bitrate. Contrary to a misconception I hope isn't very common, 4K or UHD is four times the resolution of 1080 HD, not double, because it is twice the resolution in both dimensions, horizontally and vertically. (3840 x 2160 = 8294400. 8294400 / 4 = 2073600. 1920 x 1080 = 2073600).

red youtube 4k open source vp9 codec channel

Even so, H.265 and VP9 are quite capable of making 4K streaming viable -- apparently Netflix streams 4K content in H.265 at a brisk bitrate of 15.6Mb/s. It's safe to therefore assume similar rates for 4K YouTube VP9 media. So what exactly is the difference, and why should we actually care? Despite a revision to its licensing agreement that ensures content creators will never have to pay royalties for media encoded in H.265, it's still a proprietary format which, I suppose, you're sort of "taking your chances" in using. (Who knows, the licensing agreement may change again?) VP9 is therefore a functional alternative which is also legally unencumbered, being open source and "royalty free."

VP9 still seems to be a work-in-progress -- in terms of encoders that support it, browsers that decode it and how well each does so, and the format itself, as demonstrated by RED's involvement here. Cinematographer Phil Holland also shared this set of plug-ins for encoding to VP9 in Adobe Premiere (in beta) by Brendan Bolles. Phil has done a lot of experimenting with VP9 on his own, and recommends playing around with FFmpeg for encoding directly to VP9 as well. Matters regarding VP9 (and surely, H.265) will likely heat up over the coming months, and it's nice to see a camera company lend a helping hand in ushering in an open-source 4K streaming future.

For more information, check the links below.

Links:

Your Comment

29 Comments

It's a shame that the RedRay units are EOL/dead in the water literally right after they shipped :/ It was such a good idea too.

July 2, 2014 at 2:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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john jeffries

The first B&W piece was a little underwhelming.

And the second piece, with the RED ass kissing festival...I mean wow can those guys pat themselves on the back anymore? They're so humble....NOT

...On another note..... that's awesome YouTube will be doing more 4K content. Looking forward to that.

July 2, 2014 at 3:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom

You thought the first one was underwhelming? I thought it was visually stunning.

The second one is a customer testimonial. What else do you expect from that? By definition, it's supposed to be people saying good things about Red.

I'm not trying to defend them, but you're clearly just trying to find things to hate about these spots.

July 2, 2014 at 9:15AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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That first on e was stunning.

Yeah, it takes much more energy to hate than love. People should do themselves a favor and try love.

July 2, 2014 at 10:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Geno

You will NEVER see a RED post on NFS without someone taking a shot at them.

July 2, 2014 at 5:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ian

I think he was talking about the people not the camera.

July 2, 2014 at 6:00PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Alex

them,....as in people

July 9, 2014 at 5:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ian

Just streamed the full 4K and compared to the 1080 version. I'm really not getting it. The tiny improvement in sharpness is absolutely not worth it. Specially when you can't get constant playback in 4K on an ADSL 2 connection here in metropolitan Australia. This was the final conformation for me that 4K is not worth my money in equipment and workflow :-)

July 2, 2014 at 3:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Carsten Orlt

What are you watching it on? It makes a big difference in full screen on a larger display (monitor or TV).

July 2, 2014 at 3:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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I would recommend against using Chrome to watch anything on YouTube because it will often offer an inferior streaming speed/bitrate as an alternative to longer buffering. Firefox will just buffer for a little longer.
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As to not being able to spot differences between 1080p and 4K ... (presuming it's actual 4K), it can be monitor, its settings or the viewer. I have a pretty crappy eyesight and a very old monitor ( ~ 100 pixels per inch) and I can clearly see the difference even between 1080p and 1440p - less between 1440 and 2160 - to the point that any 1080p "pro" footage I see on YouTube is disappointing.
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PS. There was an Israeli software company that promised a 4K at 12 Mbps with their plug-ins. They were at the NAB'14 too.
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PPS. IMO, the market is waiting for the Blu-Ray 4K to hit the shelves to really take off. The prices on TV's and monitors have come down significantly but the 4K needs just a little extra push. Now right, it's sort of a chicken and egg thing - why buy a TV if there's no 4K content.

July 2, 2014 at 5:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

I didn't say that I did not spot the difference, but it's not big enough for me to justify the expense and hassle working in 4K.
Maybe for the big screen but than I saw all the films shot in 2k in the cinema and it didn't look bad at all.

July 2, 2014 at 10:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Carsten Orlt

i want to troll luke..... cause i know how he gets lol.......... ps i am buying your new product luke

July 2, 2014 at 4:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Ha! Thanks!

To me, YouTube 1080p always looks kind of bad when you enter full screen mode. 4K is when it starts to look pretty good IMO.

July 3, 2014 at 3:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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24' BenQ computer monitor full screen right in front of my nose :-)

July 2, 2014 at 10:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Carsten Orlt

A 24 foot screen??! Dang man.

July 3, 2014 at 4:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Anon

I'm not aware that BenQ makes anything with a higher resolution than 1920 x1080, not really 4K.

July 3, 2014 at 6:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Tom M

I remember when HD first came out and the jump from 640x480 to 720/1080 was a HUGE visible improvement. I remember going to electronic stores and being amazed at the difference. Not so much with 4k. Capturing in 4k makes a difference is fantastic but viewing in 4k....ehhh...... There needs to be some other feature for consumers to benefit from viewing in 4k. I think broadcasters/cable providers should implement a system to where consumers are able to manually select zoom distances and alternate camera angles for sports events instead of being locked to what ever is being shown. Give more control to the home viewer because resolution will only be a factor as everyone starts to increase the size of their home tv sets.

July 2, 2014 at 4:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Wow out 6 posts so far only 2 bash Red. Lol. Must be from the gh4/A7s crew. "it's nice to see a camera company ushering in an open-source 4k streaming future" great line, no doubt about it.

July 2, 2014 at 7:19AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Anthony Marino

Well, on the one hand, this is a PR attempt to make the brand name more popular with the masses and less exclusive/snob oriented. On the other hand, Red isn't coming out with $1,500 4K cameras either. So, really what's the point of this channel? With all the 4K amateur and prosumer models out there, there are plenty of 4K clips out on YouTube already and, so far, the percentage of truly hideous video is very small since these 4K pieces found their ways into many competent hands. It will obviously change soon as prices keep falling and sub-$1,000 products make their way to the retail shelves.

July 2, 2014 at 10:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

As a DSLR shooter, my thinking went to putting H.265 into our cameras; not for the same quality at half the size, I want twice the quality at the same size. I have no idea if that's even possible, it's just my wishful thinking.

July 2, 2014 at 11:18AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Sean K

All codecs deliver different quality at different bit rates. Netflix was streaming some of their movies in what they called "Super HD" or ~ 6 Mbps rather than a traditional 3.5 and that gave their videos a Blu-Ray quality.
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Insofar as the recording goes, they are a zillion iterations of MP4/H.264, from the older camcorder 8 and 17 to the newer ProRes 4444 at about 500. The in-camera trends depend on the computational ability, the heat buildup and the media speed. The big leap toward H265 on the internal recording will probably happen with the next round of Intel chips, which are much more efficient per given level of calculation and will thus comprise the building blocks for everything from portables to laptops to servers.

July 2, 2014 at 1:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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DLD

Dig it.... Loved all three and Red does make a behemoth camera. But, I would rather have a GH4 hands down. I've learned that you can do a LOT more storytelling with a smaller camera when the bells and whistles are in place and you aren't weighed down with assistants, crew, and heavy gear. There are times you want a team, but there are times you need to be stealth.

It's not about what camera you are using, it's how you use it. It's what you do with it that matters.

The real push in the industry should be who can make as small, ergonomic, weather sealed, internal 4k / stills camera with in body IS, high ISO, and high quality internal preamps. I'd be first in line to buy several. I don't get why the writing isn't on the wall.

July 2, 2014 at 4:07PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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There were really only two technological jumps that have actually made a difference in visual quality in the past century: B&W -> Color and SD -> HD.

The brands are really trying to sell everyone on 4K, but I just don't see how anyone really cares in the smartphone/Youtube-era world.

July 2, 2014 at 5:17PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Swissted

So you're saying because 1080p to 4K is not as big a jump as black and white was to color that 4K is a gimmick?

July 2, 2014 at 7:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Enjoying Some G...

Second clip (from Red channel ?) tells us that Red Epic is very good documentary / sports etc. camera.

Why would any professional documentary maker choose Red Epic say over Sony F55 ? Or over Amira / Sony F5 ?

Here is a trailer for Disney nature film, shot entirely with Sony stuff:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xasvQYdvSD0

What benefit one would get, if one has used Red cameras for that film ?

July 2, 2014 at 8:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Juhani-i

Pretty simply reasoning actually. If you want to shoot 4K and higher RAW you're going to get far more recording time for your money since you can adjust the compression ratio more than you can with Sony 4K RAW.

July 2, 2014 at 8:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Ok I may be kind of showing off my own work here, but since it is relevant I thought I might as well.
My short film which was uploaded in 4K was selected earlier on to receive the upgraded codec and was shown on various TV's at CES this year (along with 4 other videos). So it's also technically an example. Although things may have changed between then an now. I can't be sure.
Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpNp8WdQOoo

July 3, 2014 at 3:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Jannards ethics as a company leader have always bothered me. http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-02/sponsor-turned-blind-eye-to-lan...

July 3, 2014 at 3:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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phil

"Contrary to a misconception I hope isn’t very common, 4K or UHD is four times the resolution of 1080 HD, not double, because it is twice the resolution in both dimensions, horizontally and vertically. (3840 x 2160 = 8294400. 8294400 / 4 = 2073600. 1920 x 1080 = 2073600)."

That would be true if resolution were a measure of area, but it's not; it's a linear measurement, specifically of horizontal resolution. So twice the resolution of 2K is correct, because 3840 is 2 x 1920.

July 8, 2014 at 5:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Robert England