What Video Export Settings Will Give Me the Best YouTube HD Quality?

What Video Export Settings Will Give Me the Best YouTube HD Quality?

I get this question a lot, and here’s a nice resource by Brian Gary on KenStone.com, and it goes into great detail. What follows are a few of my own ‘high-level’ tips, followed by Brian’s specs and those of MrSafety,..

  • Your video export settings is one of the most important things to ensure video quality. Lighting is probably right up there as well, but a great video camera cannot makeup for bad export settings or bad lighting. Likewise, a decent camera can look great if you light and export well.
  • Generally the bigger the exported file, the better the quality on YouTube. That’s now always true, but remember that large files means slower uploads and conversions (and more storage space for you). I deeply regret that my first hundred or so videos were exporting from iMovie at the CD-ROM default, meaning they’re around 10 megs each. Now I try to upload 50-100MB.
  • Upload not just for today but for tomorrow. Although following these instructions may not give you a remarkably better video today, consider that you may be viewing your videos on a high-definition television in the year ahead. And YouTube is not going to be able to make a highly compressed file look good on HDTV

Now Brian’s recommended settings, followed by MrSafety’s.

If you’re on a PC:

  • Codec: Windows Media 9 Standard
  • Coding: 2PassVBR @ 1000kbps
  • Quality: 80 (more towards sharper than smoother)
  • Frame Size: 640×480
  • Frame Rate: 30 fps Progressive (you can also use 24fps or 25fps Progressive)
  • Audio: WMA 9, 44.1kHz, 128bps

Mac/Quicktime Settings

  • Codec: H.264
  • Frame Size: 640×480 (Note the 4:3 aspect ratio) or whatever your source file is.
  • Frame Rate: 30 fps Progressive (you can also use 24fps or 25fps Progressive)
  • Audio: AAC, 44.1kHz, 128bps (mono or stereo)

Gary also has some tips that I don’t understand, but I plan to reread before exporting my next video.

  • Set the Compression type to H.264, the Frame Rate to 30 (or 24 or 25). Remember, the goal is to deliver progressive frame video, not interlaced because we’re primarily delivering to computers…Set the Key Frames to “Automatic” and select “Frame Reordering.” Now, here’s the key: set the Data Rate to “Automatic.”
  • Turn Frame Controls on to employ optical flow for the deinterlacing and frame rate conversion… Now here’s the trick: since this movie is bound for computer display, un-check the “Adaptive Details” option. This lets Compressor harness the same fast processing algorithms that DVD Player uses to deinterlace DVD movie playback on the fly. You’ll achieve significantly faster encoding times with Adaptive Details turned off.

Now for some specifications for Quicktime/Mac output, provided by MrSafety.

CLICK “VIDEO SETTINGS”:
-Compression Type (H.264)
-Frame Rate (30)
-Key Frames (30)
-Frame Reordering (checked)
-Data Rate (Restrict to 2000 kbits/sec optimized for Download)
-Quality (don’t mess with it)
-Encoding (Best quality)
-Click “OK”

CLICK “VIDEO SIZE”:
-Dimensions (Custom – 480 x 360)
-Preserve aspect Ratio (leave unchecked if the footage is 4:3, but check
if it’s 16:9 and select Letterbox)
-Deinterlace Source (ALWAYS check)
-Click “OK”

CLICK “SOUND SETTINGS”:
-Format (AAC)
-Channels (Stereo)
-Rate (Recommended)
-Advanced Settings (leave unchecked)
-Render Settings (Better)
-MPEG 4 AAC LC Encoder Settings (192 – 256 is fine)
-Click “OK”

PREPARE FOR INTERNET STREAMING:
-Check the box and select “Fast Start” below.
-Now click “OK”

Author: Nalts

Hi. I'm Nalts.

8 thoughts on “What Video Export Settings Will Give Me the Best YouTube HD Quality?”

  1. I do Windows Media @ 6mbps 720p24f (progressive 1280×720 at 23.975 frames per second.

    My video never reaches 200mb and HD quality is very nice. Converts fast on YouTube’s servers, too.

    I would do QuickTime, as I have done experimentation with their stuff too, but fact is my computer just renders WMV way faster.

  2. I have rendered with higher quality settings ever since I started using the HD cam. Turns out, when YT switched to HD on the site my settings were a pretty close match to what they had in mind, so all of my vids were already set up and look very good when watched in HD. For optimal HD make sure you render in at least 1280×720, with a minimum bit rate of 1000. (I use 3000 most of the time) FPS should be 30 fps. Use an h.264 for mac or .mp4 for windows (should be Sorensen in Vegas) file type, these are the newest and seem to be most compatible.

  3. Lemme see if I’ve got this straight. The United States won’t spend $200 to fix my honorably discharged service-connected disabled army teeth but they’ll give Palau up to $200 million for allowing 17 terrorists to live on a tourism island to prevent Obama from being embarrassed because he didn’t think the Gitmo thing through. This country is now officially an Idiocracy.

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