This is what happens when you up- and download a YouTube video 1,000 times

by Felix Esser

posted Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 12:54 PM EDT


This video's an oldie but a goodie, and some of us here at IR hadn't see this before -- and chances are, that goes for our readers as well. Have you ever wondered what YouTube does with your videos once you've uploaded them? You didn't think they'd just leave them alone, did you. And you'd be right not to. Because apparently, once a video is uploaded to YouTube's servers, it undergoes some further processing before it is made available to the public. But what exactly happens in the time between your upload is done and the video is available for streaming? Video artist Patrick Liddell set out to find out.

What he did was to upload and download and then re-upload a video to and from YouTube for a total of 1,000 times. He then compiled the results into a new video that shows what happens after five, ten, fifty, 100 and so on through up- and download cycles. Each time, the quality of both the audio and video degrades more and more, up to the point where almost all information is lost.

What this means is that once your video is uploaded to YouTube's servers, it is converted into a new format where further compression to both the audio and video information is applied. This is only logical, considering how many videos are uploaded to YouTube each day, and how much space all the information would take up if each and every file were left unaltered after upload.

But not to worry‒it really does take at least five up- and download cycles to begin noticing changes, and you'd be spending days, if not even months, to get to the point where your video becomes unusable. But still, it goes to show that YouTube videos stay far from unaltered once they're uploaded.

(via DIY Photography)