UPDATE: 9/14 5 PM ET: Adding information regarding Netflix videos transcoded using AV1.

YouTube has uploaded about a dozen videos that were transcoded using the AV1 codec, whcih was introduced earlier this year. The test sequences are expected to give Google as well as developers of browsers, decoders, and encoders an understanding how to better use the new royalty-free codec. Netflix is also testing AV1 codec and offers everyone a video in different resolutions and featuring various color depth.

To date, YouTube has added 14 videos transcoded using the AV1 codec to a special playlist. The list includes various types of content, including a talking-head program, musical clips, action videos, and demo footages from RED and Blackmagic Design. YouTube says that this type of content represents a large share of videos hosted by the service, so it makes a lot of sense for the company to learn how they behave on various devices in terms of performance, power consumption, and overall stability.

At present, AV1 support is available only in those Chrome 70 and Firefox Nightly builds released after September 12th. Meanwhile, the test videos use AV1 for resolutions that are lower than 480p, underscoring the fact that they are meant to test decoders that, for the moment, are going to be anything but optimized. This is on top of the fact that at the moment there are no hardware decoders that support AV1, so everything is being handled in software by the CPU to begin with. Eventually the codec will be used for content in 4K+ ultra-high-def resolutions, along with HDR and wide color gamuts.

Netflix's approach to the AV1 codec is a bit different. The company is offering just one video, but in from 432p all the way to 1080p and featuring 8 or 10 color depth.

Finally, YouTube is promising to expand the collection of AV1-transcoded videos over time.

Related Reading:

Source: YouTube (via SH SOTN)



View All Comments

  • LMonty - Saturday, September 15, 2018 - link

    Hey npz, thanks for the tips! I used handbrake with hardware encoding (Intel Quicksync or QSV), crf 21, and didn't tune grain (I didn't even notice any setting for it). There was plenty of grain in the MPEG videos, and the result was a cleaned-up look that lost detail. Will definitely try your suggestions, cheers.

    PS. I just upgraded my laptop and was so eager to try QuickSync as my previous laptop didn't support hardware encoding. :)
  • ikjadoon - Sunday, September 16, 2018 - link

    For all the coolness of QuickSync (I had exactly the same eagerness as you), I come away disappointed every time by unusual quality problems and/or just-unacceptably large file sizes. This is exporting with Adobe Premiere Pro CC, so maybe Handbrake is better. (not OP, but your comment reminded me of all my experiences). Reply
  • t.s - Monday, September 17, 2018 - link

    I've had using Qucksync with ivy bridge on Handbrake. The quality is so-so, and the generated file is much larger than if I'm using CPU encoding. Reply
  • Santoval - Monday, October 21, 2019 - link

    Hardware encoding (like Quicksync) is faster but its quality is quite lower. It needs to produce quite larger files to match the quality of software encoded video files, so if you try hardware encoding you need to forget halving the size when you transcode from H.264 to H.265, unless you are OK with the lower quality. It is a trade-off between high speed at lower quality and lower file sizes and high speed at higher quality and larger file sizes, but you can't have all three (high speed, high quality and small files).

    I suppose you are aware of the associated trade-offs of software encoding, so I won't go into them. You can play in Handbrake with various settings to find out what is more compatible to your needs. As a general rule if you prefer quality over transcoding speed (at 50 - 60% file sizes when you convert from H.264 to H.265) you should stick with software encoding. And if you prefer quality at larger file sizes (at a good speed) choose hardware encoding.
  • kludj - Saturday, September 15, 2018 - link

    I don't experience it. These are almost entirely PC recordings and animations, though, not a conversion from a video camera, so I don't worry much about a gigantic palette of murky colors. Reply
  • Stochastic - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    Is AV1 expected to improve image quality over VP9? Or is the benefit purely the 30% greater efficiency? Reply
  • mooninite - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    Yes, it is supposed to improve everything across the board. Reply
  • scott967a - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    What's the status of GPU hardware decode / Windows and Linux APIs for AV1? Reply
  • timecop1818 - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    You gotta wait about a decade or so until the standard is obsolete, and by the time everyone stops caring about it, lunix will get some pre-alpha support. Reply
  • Rocket321 - Friday, September 14, 2018 - link

    Completely absent. You'll need to buy a new Gpu/smartphone/streamer in a couple years down the road for hardware decode. Start saving up now. Reply

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