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Recommended movie settings for YouTube (17 April ’11)

By Rudolf Boogerman | Share this with your favorite social network
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YouTube screenshotLet me show you how to achieve the best results when uploading your video to YouTube if you have to edit the movie after shooting.
Through extensive testing, I found the best way to upload with the least artifacts and blurry edges as a result. The test movie used for this purpose is a regular video made with a cheap consumer camera, no special lighting and it did not undergo any form of correction.

Before we start, let me tell you something about compression, because this is reason number One that makes movies look bad on YouTube. Compression is a method to reduce the file size of a movie so that it can play easily on the web and from DVD/CD. Therefore, compression is a great thing, but: although sometimes unavoidable, it should never happen twice!

It is very important to realize that practically all consumer- and prosumer camcorders already put some form of compression on their movies. Cheap models will compress strongly, while the midrange models will use a medium- to light compression. On prosumer camcorders you probably won’t notice the compression, but it is still there. MiniDV tapes offer the least compression since size isn’t an issue on those tapes.

Therefore, if you can avoid it, do not compress the movie again, even if you have to add a title afterwards in your favorite movie editor. Always select “None” for compression, unless the file becomes so big that you can’t upload it. In that case, try to use the best possible compression method with the least compression.

See also for an update on the HD videos on YouTube.

YouTube supports the following formats(checked on 17 April 2011):

Keep in mind that most accounts only allow videos of maximum 15 minutes.
Here is the official Optimize your video document from YouTube.

I recommend:

YouTube says to upload videos with an aspect ration of 4:3 as is, but I recommend to create your own pilarbox on one side of the video because those black bars that appear automatically on YouTube are not elegant and in fact a waste of space. Here is an article how to do that: How to improve quality of video tutorials on YouTube

Detailed recommendation:
If you do not need to do any editing on your movie, .MOV, .MPG, .3GPP, .FLV, .WMV and .AVI are all fine.
Although WMV will not look as well as the other formats but if that is what your camcorder delivers, don’t worry, just upload that .WMV and the movie will not be brilliant, but it will be OK.

If you original video is smaller then recommended, watch my video tutorial on Resizing videos with Flash MX or higher.
An alternative is to use a video editor: How to improve quality of video tutorials on YouTube

Like I said, for audio, I wouldn’t go below 320Kbps (Kilobytes per second) and if it is stereo, keep it stereo unless the file size is too big. That way, you still have a significant audio compression and the quality remains good. Below 128KBps, quality rapidly decreases. It does depend on the audio, though. In some cases you can go lower, but voices deteriorate very easily. If you don’t have time for trial and error, you will be fine with 320Kbps. Better still, do not use compression at all.

The frame rate is the amount of moving images per second. Best to keep the rate of your original movie unless you have a special reason to change it. I would avoid going lower then 15 frames/sec.

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