4K video comes to YouTube as new Partner Grants program launched

It's been a big week for the YouTube team. On Thursday, a completely revamped mobile site was launched, and in the afternoon a preview version of Leanback -- a new way to experience YouTube videos -- became publicly available.

Yet still the news keeps coming. Making its presence known at the VidCon 2010 keynote today, the YouTube team revealed some surprises including a new $5 million Partner Grants program, and news that the popular video site now supports uploads of videos shot in highest quality video resolution available today, 4K.

The Partner Grants program, which will see $5 million invested "across select new and emerging YouTube partners", is YouTube's commitment to "bring an even richer body of content for our users and advertisers and raise the creative bar for online video."

"Our goal is to catalyze the creation of new ideas and production models from some of our most innovative and original content partners for the benefit and advancement of the entire industry," YouTube's Partner Development Manager George Strompolos wrote today.

"This additional funding can allow partners to invest in better cameras, achieve higher production quality, expand their marketing efforts, expand their staff, or just hire more talent. Anything that will help them evolve their art, business, and ultimately the entire creator community."

YouTube will contact "eligible partners" selected based on "video views, subscribers, growth rate, audience engagement and production expertise." Those contacted will be invited to submit a Grant proposal, which YouTube explains will be analyzed and evaluated based on a number of factors including "projected performance, distribution plan, marketing plan, cost requirements and appeal to advertisers."

And in a move which shows just how committed the YouTube team are to providing support for videos of all resolutions, videos shot in the very expensive, IMAX-capable 4K resolution can now be uploaded onto the site. 4K, which has a standard resolution of 4096 x 3072, ideally requires a screen 25 feet big and a projector the size of a "small refrigerator" YouTube says.

With videos supporting 4K extremely scarce (and content creation likely to be slow given the high cost of the cameras), the team at YouTube have put together a playlist showing off the few available partner videos which support the higher resolution. To view the videos in 4K, select "Original" in the video quality menu. But be warned: YouTube says you'll need a "ultra-fast high-speed broadband connection" to view the data-intensive videos, which in countries with capped Internet usage such as Australia will also quickly chew up data .

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