YouTube is taking a page out of Hollywood's book with a new feature aimed at giving you more control over your stories.
In a recent blog post, Google Research software engineers Valentin Bazarevsky and Andrei Tkachenka announced that real-time video segmentation is rolling out to YouTube Stories. The feature, which is currently in a limited beta, is available only in the YouTube app and it's designed specifically for YouTube creators. But if you're one of them, you'll now have a new tool to create custom videos.
According to the engineers, the feature will automatically segment the background and foreground of your videos. From there, you'll have the ability to modify the background to display a host of predetermined backgrounds. The technology can also identify when your camera moves and will expand or contract the background area to show more or less of it.
In order to get the video segmentation to work, Google created a "dataset" of what might be in the video, including a person's eyebrows, hair, and nostrils, among other features. After identifying all of that, it separates that data from the background layer. Using layers, masks, and other editing features, the technology is able to identify what's in the background and what's not and give you more control over your videos.
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So, how does it actually work?
According to Google Research, the process is quite simple. From the YouTube app, simply upload a video into your Story function. Immediately, you'll be given the option to edit your clip and create a custom background. In the options below your video, you can scroll through different background creations and test them by tapping each one. Your video will play and the background will dynamically change in the background as you scroll through the options.
Once you're ready and have found your background, simply go through the process of publishing your story and you'll be all set. Now, anyone who looks at your story will see the background with your video.
According to the researchers, the new feature will remain on YouTube stories until they can properly test the technology on the first line of effects. As the technology gets better and works with more sophisticated videos, they plan on integrating it into Google's lineup of Augmented Reality features.
In other words, expect to hear more about this feature in the coming weeks and months.