Announced earlier this year, 60 frames per second support has finally rolled out to YouTube worldwide for videos in HD resolutions! If you follow a lot of the more professional gaming channels, you’ve probably seen it in wide use already. I have to say, I was skeptical if YouTube could make it work well but they seem to have pulled it off very nicely.
I’d been considering whether utilising this new presentation method was a good fit for my channel. I principally cover retro games, many of which don’t run at 60fps or HD resolution for that matter. I also archive all my captured footage and project assets and am into multiple terabytes already, even though most of my first year of videos were only done in SD resolutions. The thought of doubling the bit rate made me wince at how much space that may require. Hard drives are cheap but they ain’t that cheap. One major limitation of this feature as well is that if a video is uploaded to YouTube at 60fps, you are forced to play back at that speed, unless you drop to SD resolutions. This means you have to have a faster connection and download more data in order to view those videos and I was concerned that would be an issue for some of my viewers.
After much thought, testing, reflection, testing, testing and more testing, I’ve decided what I’m going to do and I think it will balance everything out nicely. Going forward, I will record videos in 60fps and 1080p where it makes sense. If a game doesn’t run at 60fps the majority of the time, I won’t waste time and space recording at that rate. Also, if a game doesn’t run natively at 1080p, I also won’t record at that resolution.
I was actually surprised how little additional space is required to record 60fps footage, especially off consoles with my AVerMedia ExtremeCap U3. The files are most certainly larger but not twice the size at all and it’s quite manageable. Even at 1080p, YouTube downscales most of the video on their site to a much lower bit rate in order to save on storage and bandwidth costs. This is why you often see super high quality and most “artsy” videos on Vimeo, where the bit rate can be much higher, thus allowing much higher levels of quality. Most people watching videos on YouTube don’t care though. By recording at the bit rate YouTube uses, even 1080p/60fps files are much smaller than I expected which is fantastic.
Similarly, I did some testing and while watching a YouTube video at 60fps definitely requires a faster connection and more data, it is also far less than I expected it to be. Clearly, YouTube has spent a lot of time optimising their player to make this possible, which makes sense when you consider they also have to send you more data and again, bandwidth is cheap but it ain’t that cheap. The more I see of how well tuned this is, the more I see why it took so bloody long to get it out there. I don’t give YouTube credit often but on this, they did a great job, aside from not allowing you to drop to 30fps at HD resolutions. Maybe one day, metrics will show this is a good idea and they’ll implement it.
So from now on, you’ll see 60fps and 1080p when it makes sense but only in those cases. Forcing more demanding standards on people for content that doesn’t require it is just wasteful and doesn’t serve the best interests of my audience. However, if I can maximise quality when appropriate, I will do so. The first video to utilise this is my latest Retro Flashback on Midway Arcade Origins:
This was recorded at 720/60fps because the Xbox 360 doesn’t run this game in 1080p and some of the games in the package run at 60fps. I’m very happy with how it turned out. If games I cover in the future normally run at 60fps most of the time (i.e. they don’t experience major slowdown), you can expect to see them at that speed. If you see future games at 30fps, you can assume that it’s because those games don’t run faster than that. Same with 1080p resolution. I have recorded everything in 720p minimum for a while now because I find even older games that don’t run at 720p look crisper and less blurry when presented in HD. I have no way to update older videos without deleting them first so those will remain unchanged. My StarTopia series also started at 30fps and I want to keep it consistent so it will continue to be that until it concludes.
I have a pilot for a potentially new series coming later this week (that will be announced here when it goes up) that’s probably going to be at 1080p/60fps more often than not. The pilot episode definitely will be. I also will start rolling out my Outlast and Whistleblower play through that I did live for Extra Life in the next couple of weeks but again, that was recorded at 720p/30fps (and a lower bit rate for that matter) so that’s going to be presented that way. Recording live streams at 60fps is very tricky and I haven’t figured out the best way to handle that yet. Lastly, the Geek Bravado Ramble will continue to be in 30fps because my webcam won’t do higher than that without dropping to abysmal quality and frankly, does a VLOG really benefit from 60fps? Personally, I don’t think so.
So there you have it. I hope this gives you guys some insights into both the technical challenges of this and my reasoning for approaching it as I am. I think this is a good balance of reducing my own storage requirements (which are substantial, especially for a channel that hasn’t made me a cent in a year and a half) and also making sure the most number of people can easily watch my videos, while also presenting things in the best way possible. I’d love to hear your feedback so please leave a comment here or on one of the videos. As always, I’m looking to improve and my audience is the best source of ways to do that.
Thanks again for continuing to watch my stuff and I hope you enjoy the silky smoothness!