YouTube just announced two interesting new features for those of us who regularly embed YouTube videos. Starting today, the preview images that you see before a video starts will be displayed in a higher resolution that makes them look less grainy than the current embeds. In addition, Google is also launching the option to strip most of YouTube’s own branding from embeds.
The HD preview images will be available for all videos with a resolution of 480p or higher. As YouTube increased the resolution of its videos over the last few years, the embed previews weren’t exactly keeping pace. Now, even when you embed a large embed, the previews won’t look like they came from a 1990s online video.
YouTube will create these new images for newly uploaded videos and plans to re-encode all preview images for older videos over the next few weeks and automatically.
As for the logoless player (which you can enable by adding ?modestbranding=1 to the video URL in the embed code), YouTube says that many of its users have been asking for this functionality, which hides most (but not all) of YouTube’s own branding.