Youtube starts test with open royalty-free AV1 codec

Posted 17 September 2018 17:21 CET by Jan Willem Aldershoff

Google has launched the first beta of video playback using the AV1 codec on YouTube. Initially, the amount of videos encoded with AV1 will be limited, and only Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox users will be able to playback the AV1 encoded videos.

After the first tests of Mozilla and Google to support the free AV1 video codec, Google now also offers a playlist of 14 videos on YouTube. The streaming video service itself calls it a beta and offers the experiment as part of its Testtube program.

Chrome supports AV1 playback since pre-release version 70 and support for the codec can be enabled through the Chrome #enable-av1-decoder flag. Also, nightly build of Firefox 63 are able to playback AV1 encoded content. Support for the codec has to be enabled through the media.av1.enabled option. Besides that, users also need to set their preferred display in the YouTube Testtube program to AV1 for SD quality. When all these requirements are not met, the videos on the AV1 beta test will play, but with the default codec.

With the free AV1 video codec, the Alliance for Open Media (Aomedia) is trying to create a high-quality successor to the free VP9 video codec. AV1 should compete with patented codecs from the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and is regarded as a candidate for standardization as the internet video codec of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

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