YouTube videos to get spring clean?

Improved H.264 coding to improve YouTube viewing
Improved H.264 coding to improve YouTube viewing

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications have come up with a way to make YouTube videos cleaner.

Don't start flaming them about censorship just yet, though, as their efforts have nothing to do with reducing the number of nipples on everyone's favourite home-made naughtiness showcase.

The Berlin scientists have come up with a way to reduce the numbers of digital stutters, glitches and hiccups in YouTube videos and other clips based on the H.264/AVC MPEG-4 format – such as Apple's iTunes movie downloads and BBC HD satellite broadcasts.

Important packets

Digital video clips get jerky when packets of data are lost, when an internet node is overloaded or terrestrial transmissions are interrupted by a thunder storm, for example.

The Fraunhofer Institute has developed a new encoding technique for H.264/AVC called Scalable Video Coding (SVC) that adds additional data packets to just the important parts of the data stream, allowing video players to recover critical packets of lost data and give fault-free viewing of even High Definition signals.

Interruptions and internet bottle-necks will still degrade the quality of the signal but the video should never freeze up completely. Even better, the new SVC encoded clips will run automatically on all current players and devices.

Fraunhofer boffins will present the new technology at the IBC conference in Amsterdam next week.

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.