YouTube Plays with Theater View for Long-Form Videos

YouTube is experimenting with two new viewing options for long-form content: “Theater View,” which shoves down creator information, pulls a clip into widescreen mode, and frames it with red curtains, and “Lights Off,” which dims the browser window outside the video player. The options were documented in a Google Operating System post earlier today.

Long-form content is not very common on YouTube, because nearly all users are prohibited from uploading it. The site recently changed its file size limit to 1 GB from 100 MB, but it hasn’t adjusted its time limit of 10 minutes.

However, the site has recently expanded its efforts to attract high-quality and distinctive content by opening YouTube Screening Room, a destination for short films. That page also features theater-style red curtain graphics (though they seem to be cut from a different cloth than the Theater View drapes). Screening Room contributors and select other content producers have the option to upload videos of more than 10 minutes.

The new long-form viewing options aren’t widely available on the site; they don’t seem to be rolled out in the Screening Room, where you might think they’d be. For now they are mostly on the highly visually interesting videos of Google’s in-house author talks and lectures at Carnegie Mellon and Stanford. You can see the whole list here.

YouTube has long offered full-screen mode for all videos. In the last year it has made higher-quality streams of video available as an option for any video whose original file quality supports it.