Google buys company to improve YouTube video quality

Google has acquired Dublin-based Green Parrot Pictures, which makes digital video technology that Google plans to use to make YouTube videos automatically sharper, steadier and lower in image noise. The technology may be of particular use for videos shot under pressure with low-quality devices, such as camera phones, in situations such as street protests, Google said.

Green Parrot Pictures’ video improvement technology has been used in big-budget films such as “Lord of the Rings,” “X-Men” and “Spider Man.” Green Parrot Pictures CEO Anil Kokaram is also an associate professor at Trinity College Dublin.

The company has been developing algorithms for automated motion picture restoration since the early ’90s. Kokaram was one of the first to develop algorithms for cleaning up dirt, sparkle, noise and missing frames using motion-estimation technology that combined both spatial and temporal information.

His early research in line removal and line jitter reduction were the first attempt to fix those problems. Kokaram’s book “Motion Picture Restoration,” published in 1998 by Springer Verlag, remains the primary reference in the field.

“Their technology helps make videos look better while at the same time using less bandwidth and improving playback speed,” wrote Jeremy Doig, director of Google video technology, in a blog post last week.

“With the equivalent of more than 170,000 full-length movies uploaded to YouTube every week, the team’s experience in this area — working on solutions for both video consumers and experts alike — will be a source of new ideas and further innovation at YouTube and across Google. We look forward to working with them to make the videos you upload every minute of every day to our site look even better,” Doig wrote.

YouTube attracted 144.1 million unique video viewers on the Internet in January, according to comScore. It was followed in a distant second place by Vevo, with 51 million, and Yahoo, Viacom Digital and AOL rounding out the top five.

You can see a demonstration of Green Parrot Technology here.