YouTube Is Improving The Quality Of Its VR Videos

by Jamie Feltham • March 16th, 2017

YouTube offers thousands of hours of content for your VR headset with its 360 degree videos, but the massive amount of data these clips require means they often show up blurry. Google is working to fix that.

The search engine giant this week announced that its YouTube and Daydream divisions are working together as part of a new series looking at how to improve the quality of VR video. It makes sense; YouTube is one of if not the biggest providers of VR video content in the world and Google’s Daydream mobile VR ecosystem features a dedicated app for watching those videos.

This week, the company is talking about projection, which refers to mapping spherical content into the rectangular layout that you’ll see either in a YouTube window or through the limits of your own field of view inside a VR headset.

Since launch in 2015, YouTube has been using equirectangular projection, which renders pixels best at the top and bottom of an image, where a user normally isn’t looking, and has lower quality pixels closer towards the center of the screen, where they usually are looking. After comparing saturation of pixels with cubemaps, Google has come up with what it calls equi-angular cubemaps, which gives a more consistent image.

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A detailed run through is available on the Google blog, but the image above shows you some improvement, however marginal. Still, the company says this project method offers “better results” and “more efficient use of resources”.

Though the results are far from perfect, it’s great to see that companies are working to resolve VR video’s blur problem. YouTube is available across a range of VR headsets, including Sony’s PlayStation VR (PSVR), but the quality of the videos can often deter people from spending much time watching them. News that YouTube is doing something about that will come as a big relief to fans of the platform.

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  • alucardfuck

    They must do it cause now they are like shit

  • James Friedman

    How about dedicated Rift/Vive app

  • Brandon Smith

    I think Youtube needs a better content discovery system for 3D VR videos more than it needs better quality, in my humble opinion.

  • unreal_ed

    I feel like a lot of (but definitely not all) 360 videos clearly have one direction where you should be looking. They should let uploaders choose which direction that is and focus on improving image quality in just that direction. Ideally you could even change that “focus” at different points in the video

    That said, the main problem with 360 videos image quality is just that the required resolution is still too low on cameras. Even 4k still looks like crap, and 8k should be better, but still far from HD quality

  • sfmike

    Yes the poor quality is a very large determent to watching what turns out to be VHS quality 360 video. More needs to be done and quickly or consumers will drop 360 video. We are living in an HD era and are supposed to satisfied with VHS quality 360 video.

  • CazCore

    i think 360 videos are %99.5 inherently annoying.