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Acquisition to improve YouTube image quality

Green Parrot Pictures' technology can make video sharper, steadier, and less bothered by visual noise. Google plans to use it to improve YouTube videos.

Green Parrot Pictures logo
screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google has acquired a Dublin, Ireland, company called Green Parrot Pictures to help improve the quality of videos posted on YouTube.

The company's technology "helps make videos look better while at the same time using less bandwidth and improving playback speed," said Jeremy Doig, director of Google video technology, in a post on Google's YouTube blog yesterday. It's been used in "Lord of the Rings," "X-Men," and "Spider-Man" films and apparently Google now wants to benefit from it as well.

Doig said the acquisition will help improve video marred by shortcomings of equipment or the person shooting the video:

Some of YouTube's most popular or moving videos are shot using low-quality mobile phones and video cameras. Take, for example, videos of recent protests in Libya. Although emotionally captivating, they can be jerky, blurry or unsteady. What if there was a technology that could improve the quality of such videos--sharpening the image, reducing visual noise and rendering a higher-quality, steadier video--all while your video is simply being uploaded to the site? You can imagine how excited we were when we discovered a small, ambitious company based in Ireland that can do exactly this.

Google didn't disclose terms of the acquisition or how and when the technology would be incorporated. One thing is certain, though: such post-processing tends to be computationally taxing, and adding it has the potential to suck up a lot of processor power. Right now, 35 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube each minute.