December 13, 2015

More on Vimeo's 4K Playback, Adaptive Streaming, and Higher Frame Rates

Vimeo Adaptive Streaming 4K 2K Playback Stars Still
While the news wasn't broken by Vimeo, they have finally confirmed it: 4K playback and adaptive streaming are rolling out on their player.

If you missed the previous post, essentially it means we are getting the option to not only select which resolution we want to watch a video in (including 2K and 4K), but the player will also adapt to the internet connection and screen size of the viewer. Here's more on that from Vimeo:

Adaptive streaming means that instead of loading the video as a single, large file, we load a bunch of much smaller files as the video plays. We can then choose from all the qualities available, factoring in your Internet connection speed and screen size, to make sure that playback is always the best it can be and is never interrupted.

We’ve already implemented adaptive streaming on iOS, Apple TV, and Xbox 360, and over the next few months, we’ll be updating the rest of our mobile and TV apps to use it. We’re still in the process of testing the performance of these features, but everyone will have access to them within the next few months or so.

It's important to note that Vimeo's 2K is not traditional DCI 2K, but is instead a 1440p mode like YouTube. Here are Vimeo's recommended compression guidelines so far:

  • 2K (2560×1440): 20-30 Mbit/s
  • 4K (3840×2160): 30-60 Mbit/s

Obviously there will be kinks to be worked out, especially as the adaptive streaming isn't being rolled out for everyone yet. Most videos will simply have the resolution selection option under the "HD" part of the play bar, and not the Auto option yet. Some users have complained about videos defaulting to 360p, though this really shouldn't be happening according to Vimeo, and as part of the adaptive streaming they will strive to give the highest quality within the constraints of the user's internet connection. At the moment according to Vimeo staff, for those who don't have adaptive streaming enabled yet, if a user selects something like 720p or 1080p, it should default to that for all videos they are watching on the site. Once adaptive streaming rolls out though, you'll get the highest quality possible based on where you're watching from and your connection.

4K and 2K For All

As for 4K, here's how that rollout is going to happen:

  • PRO members: Any 2K or 4K video files you’ve uploaded since August 4, 2015, or anytime thereafter, will be streamable in 2K and 4K on compatible devices and connections.
  • Plus members: Any 2K and 4K video files you’ve uploaded since yesterday, December 8, 2015, will also be transcoded and ready for ultra-HD viewing.
  • Basic members: Hold tight: we’ll start transcoding your 2K and 4K uploads very soon!

They are currently showing off two examples that have both adaptive streaming and 4K:

Basic Member Accounts Get More

Free accounts will get access to HD embedding outside of just Vimeo.com:

In addition to adding 2K and 4K resolutions, for Plus and PRO members, we’re automatically making both 720p and 1080p versions of the videos you upload (no need to upgrade each individual video any longer), and we’ll do the same for Basic members starting next year. And to make sure that adaptive streaming works well for all, we’ve also removed the HD embedding restriction from Basic members’ videos — which means people can watch your HD videos outside of vimeo.com, too!

While this is taking away some of the features users were paying more for, it does mean that free accounts will be able to have their HD videos embedded anywhere. This is great especially for people who did have paid accounts in the past but have chosen to no longer pay — their videos will still show up in HD embedded on third party sites. 

60fps Has Arrived

While cinema has traditionally avoided 60fps (played back at 60fps), it's something that has been explored for sports and other extreme sports activities to avoid motion blur (and it's great for video games). Even some nature and other documentary-type shows have utilized the frame rate to give a crisper image. It may not work for all videos, but if you happen to be shooting in 1080p 60fps, Vimeo will now support it, just like YouTube has already done so far. 

For more on all of these features, check out the Vimeo post    

Your Comment

12 Comments

Well, for those that can view more than a few frames at a time...how does the compression look compared to YT?

December 13, 2015 at 9:10PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
2893

Great news. Since reading the comments on the last post I decided to cancel my plus subscription. With these news I have another reason to. Thanks for this rather weird decision vimeo.

December 13, 2015 at 10:13PM

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Paul-Louis Pietz Pröve
director / dop / editor
591

Very true, but I'm sure plus members still will have a bigger upload capacity compared to basic users.

December 14, 2015 at 1:23PM

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Spencer Whiteman
Director/Cinematographer/Editor
171

I'll hope it will correct the playback problems i encounter everytime despite having great internet connection ! It seems better and being able to choose is good news.

December 14, 2015 at 1:36AM, Edited December 14, 1:36AM

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hippase
83

Ok, but can the basic users upload 1080p finally instead of 720p?

December 14, 2015 at 5:28AM

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ReinisK
Cameraguy, editor
34

1080p for Basic users is planned, as noted in the blog post.

"In addition to adding 2K and 4K resolutions, for Plus and PRO members, we’re automatically making both 720p and 1080p versions of the videos you upload (no need to upgrade each individual video any longer), and we’ll do the same for Basic members starting next year."

December 14, 2015 at 6:12AM

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Justin Ruggles
Lead Video Encoding Engineer, Vimeo
74

Thanks for the reply! Great news :)

December 15, 2015 at 6:29AM, Edited December 15, 6:29AM

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ReinisK
Cameraguy, editor
34

I think it's a little inconsistent that they list them as 2K and 4K rather than 1440p and 2160p considering all the other resolution names on the list.

Other than that, awesome!

December 14, 2015 at 6:04AM

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Mike Tesh
Pro Video / Indie Filmmaker
821

I find that 4K looks much, much better than YouTube. YouTube doesn't handle finer details very well and it all becomes a bit mushy, particularly with distant foliage etc. It does however require a little buffering and that's even on my 152mbps connection. I see that a lot of people have issues with playback in HD but I've always had excellent playback here in the UK on both mobile 3G/4G and broadband, even on crappy connections like hotel and train wifi etc. I do however really wish they didn't change the default resolution settings. Or at least change it so that there is a visible indication that the viewer isn't watching at 1080p (the HD icon is lit up for 720p and above). I think it's reasonable to say that if you aren't a "Vimeo user" then you would just assume that you are already watching the highest quality already if the HD icon were lit up. I think it would be much better if the icon were more dynamic (maybe the icon fills up from top to bottom depending on how high your resolution settings are?). Other than that it's good to see them start to catch up!

December 14, 2015 at 6:23AM, Edited December 14, 6:23AM

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Vimeo needs a PS4 app. It's the best-selling games console this generation and the PS4 is a great media consumption device. It has most of the other video apps I need including YT. With millions of units having been sold and with no signs of slowing down they're missing out on everyone on the platform.

December 14, 2015 at 6:35AM, Edited December 14, 6:35AM

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Jamie Sergeant
Selfshooting Filmmaker, Writer
189

4K is nice but it took them quite a while just to get 4K, I'm afraid it will be a long wait till they accept more modern codec like H.265.

December 14, 2015 at 10:06PM, Edited December 14, 10:06PM

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Jason Han
Cinematographer
265

Vimeo made a big deal out of their preference for HTML5 over Flash. That's an easy thing to implement when you use progressive download. I am curious if they are going to try to pull off MBR using only HTML5 video tags. That would require an immense effort on their end, and would still leave out a significant number of browsers.
Also, Vimeo's major marketing point is the quality of their video. Users may be confused when the video starts to artifact as their connection forces a lower bitrate, or if it starts up a low bit rate while the browser performs connection heuristics. Of course, buffering video during progressive download is awful, too, but at least it doesn't affect the quality of the video, just the experience.
It would be cool if their engineering and marketing team open up some of their thinking on their blog.

December 16, 2015 at 8:17AM, Edited December 16, 8:17AM

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Tim Beynart
Master of None
81