There are many factors to consider when uploading videos to the web, and the process can be very involved. There are a lot of confusing technical terms, and various settings that can be tweaked at every stage of the process that can affect the outcome. Here is a guide to the right settings to use, and some key definitions, to help clarify and improve the process, ensuring your videos look the way you want everytime.
1. Capturing the Video
Believe it or not, optimizing your videos to be uploaded online begins with the filming process. Capturing the highest quality footage you can will ensure that the end result is displayed in sharp HD online. There is no way to upgrade the resolution of footage during the editing process and besides, using a camera with a large sensor and high pixel density like a Canon Mark III 5D will enable you to reframe certain shots during the editing process, creating more flexibility overall. You can’t upload HD video if you don’t record HD video.
2. Timeline Settings for Editing the Footage
When selecting the timeline settings for the editing process, be sure to match the timeline settings to the aspect ratio of the footage. Aspect ratio is simply defined as the dimensions of the video (width x height), usually measured in pixels. Some of the most common are 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720 and 720 x 480. Anything lower than 1280 x 720 will not be HD.
The reason this is important is because a mismatch between timeline settings and your footage can create unsightly black bars above and below or to either side of your video if you use the same settings when exporting your video. That will not be fixable when uploading and publishing your video online – it has to be fixed in production. Here is a more in-depth look at getting aspect ratio right.
3. The Best Video Codec for Encoding Your Video
When you export a video from editing software, you are compressing the video and audio information to a manageable amount of data, and writing a self-contained video file. To write that video file, you need to select something known as a codec, which defines how the information your video file contains will be presented and read by different players and applications.
There are many, many video codecs available in this day and age, yet H.264 has become popular in the last few years, and for good reason. It compresses video to very small file sizes while retaining high image quality, making it an excellent choice for streaming video online.
4. How to Pick a Frame Rate
Frame rates refer to the number of frames displayed per second of video, and you need to select this setting when recording, editing, and exporting your video. A higher frame rate packs less information into each frame, but more frames into each second, and consequently delivers less motion blur or “strobing” effects commonly seen at lower frame rates. A high frame rate is required for ultra smooth slow-motion video. The higher your frame rate, the larger the file will be since you are packing more information into each second. At the other end of the spectrum, a subject filmed at a very low frame rate may not be perceived as being in motion, and instead appears to be a series of individual images instead.
Higher frame rates are becoming more and more common, although those looking to achieve a specific cinematic look or feel for their video may choose a lower frame rate for stylistic purposes. Common frame rates are 24 fps, 25 fps, and 29.997 fps (also referred to 30 fps). For recording video, frame rates as high as 240 fps or more are becoming popular since they allow for slow motion.
When editing and exporting, select the same frame rate as you used to record the video for optimal results. If that results in a frighteningly large file size, the next best choice is to test different frame rates to see what works best for your specific project.
Whichever frame rate you select, try to avoid variable frame rates when exporting. This particular setting is known to cause video and audio playback to become out of sync, as well as other issues.
5. The Best Audio Codec
You also need to select an audio codec, although this is relatively straightforward. The Advanced Audio Codec (AAC) is the default for most editing programs, and selecting 44.1 Hertz with two channel stereo will be optimal for the majority of video destined for the web. The right bitrate depends to a certain extent on your target file size. If it’s important to keep file size down, then you can select a lower bitrate, but 320 kbps is ideal for high quality audio.
You can always test different bitrates to see if the trade off for a smaller file size is worth it, though audio tends to have a relatively small impact on the end file size. Exporting an audio-only file will be a lot faster than the entire video file, and will give you a good idea of what the finished product will sound like.
6. The Right Video Format
As a video hosting platform, SproutVideo accepts nearly any video format, but using MP4 video whenever possible will help avoid common issues, and ensure your videos perform well online.
Similar to codecs, there are a multitude of video formats to choose from, and MP4 has emerged as a favorite for streaming HD video online with relatively lightweight file size. It is commonly used as a container with the H.264 video and AAC audio codecs. These are the standard codecs used with MP4 video, although different audio codecs can also be used. The container for your video can be thought of like the binding on a book that holds all the information and pages together. You can tell which container was used for any video by looking at the file extension.
7. Upload Faster
Typically, your upload speed is substantially slower than your download speed. This is especially important for larger video files. Since an upload can be interrupted if your computer goes to sleep or you navigate away from the page, you want them to go as quickly as possible.
Besides upgrading your internet connection, you can try several tactics to improve your upload experience. Plugging your computer into the router and closing any other open tabs or windows can help. Avoid uploading or downloading other files simultaneously, especially on a slower connection. Here are some more tips for improving uploads.
If you followed these best practices, your videos should look great and sound great on the web, and the uploading process will go smoothly. If you have any questions, please contact us or let us know in the comments below!