How to Compress Video for YouTube (5 Vital Tips)

Courtesy of ZackScott, here’s a nice piece from CrunchGear about how to ensure your video is optimized for YouTube.

  1. Make your file a .mov or .mp4.
  2. Set it to the YouTube-native size of 320×240 (aka QVGA).
  3. Expect letterboxing if your HD camera shoots at a different aspect ration than the 4:3 that is 320×240. No way out of that unless you want to crop or stretch (yuck).
  4. Make it as “bit-rich” as you can. Use a bitrate as high as you can up to 1200kbps (overkill). Somewhere between 700kbps and 1000kbps should do the trick nicely.
  5. Use the MP3 audio codec (either CBR of VBR), which should be standard on your editor.

Do this and your video will look better and encode faster (reduce post-to-view lag).

Also note that there’s software out there that has automated YouTube features, such as VirtualDub. These programs are great time-savers if you’re and hardcore YouTuber, and they should be considered.

17 Replies to “How to Compress Video for YouTube (5 Vital Tips)”

  1. hmmmm,adding new posts before responding to comments on the old posts? I guess you really are a celebrity now 😉

  2. Thanks for the tips Nalts & zack scott.I thought this was rather interesting,its from youtubes terms of use,User Submissions and Conduct,near the end of paragraph C: “You understand and agree, however, that YouTube may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of User Submissions that have been removed or deleted.” …………….WTF?

  3. Steve – i think this would cover keeping copies of deleted/removed videos where there is a question of copyright infringement (i.e., the viacom suit).

  4. I followed the instructions to the letter but i get the same quality altho i guess i kinda do what the advice says anyhow but the re-sizing to 320 x 240 does make very small file sizes without any apparent effect on the quality of the uploaded vid whcih is a great thing really.

    POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO just thought i would add that on the end.

  5. A lot of the new versions of editing software are incorporating export options specifically for online video. I know the new Adobe CS3 Suite will have the ability to export to the High Def H.264 codec and it will be interesting to see how YT vids start to look using that. Although i think at the moment u can only access the H.264 encoded ones from Apple TV & Apple iPhone’s.

  6. Also, on my Apple TV, I can watch your content in widescreen on my 16:9 TV. But were those videos still uploaded as 320 x 240 letterbox? Or is this a secret of the “partners program”???

  7. “The trick is to append &fmt=6 or &fmt=18 to the end of the URL. For instance, &fmt=6 bumps the resolution from 320×240 to 448×336. Add &fmt=18 and you get an MP4-encoded version, with better audio and a 480×360 resolution.”

    we already got it!

  8. For some reason, with the videos that I’ve uploaded, when I view the High Quality Version, the audio becomes noticeably distorted. The audio sounds nice and clean in the low quality version, but it distorted in the high quality version.

    Anyone know what would cause that?

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