YouTube Launches 4K HD Streaming, $5M Partner Grant Fund

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Today at VidCon 2010 in Los Angeles, YouTube director of product management Hunter Walk announced that YouTube will be launching a whole new level of HD streaming.

By selecting the “original” setting, users will be able to watch videos in 4096p resolution. While this won’t have much effect on creators whose cameras don’t go past 1080p, but according to Walk about 10 percent of all videos uploaded to YouTube to date are in HD quality, which makes it one of the largest HD video sites in the world.

Improvements to the annotation feature were also promised, with more customization to come in the fall and winter. “You’ll be able to bring in even more types of information,” Walk said, including the ability to pull in a live Twitter feed into a video.

Walk followed up this announcement with demonstrations of the YouTube Editor tool and the lean-back feature. Plus, Merton the Chatroulette Piano Guy Skyped in to perform some original content as well as a Tay Zonday cover or two. (When we interviewed Merton in April, he was having trouble getting YouTube on the phone — guess he finally got their number.)

In addition, YouTube partner development manager George Strompolos came on stage to announce YouTube Partner Grants, which he called “a five million dollar fund to invest in your creation.

“We’re actively identifying YouTube partners with views, comments, user engagement, quality content… We’re going to reach out to you, ask what’s holding you back, and help you out with that $5 million,” Strompolos said. “And as it progresses, maybe $5 million will become $50 million. Who knows?”

Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): Why Viacom’s Fight With YouTube Threatens Web Innovation (subscription required)

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