Which Video Format Is Best For Youtube

19 replies
I'm going to be uploading videos "Traffic Geyser" anyone
know which format is best to use for the videos.
#format #video #youtube
  • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
    Cue Josh Anderson in 3...2....1.... LOL

    Seriously, search Josh's posts about this topic. He's written some really excellent, very detailed posts about the various video codecs.

    For my workflow, which does not involve much live action video, I typically output to Quicktime MOV files with h264 video compression and AAC audio compression.

    However, I've also had good results with MPEG4 video compression, especially on spots where there is a lots of motion graphics or transitions.

    Here's a recent vid for Brian McElroy exported directly from Keynote using the "iPod" export settings which resulted in an MP4 encoded MOV file @ 640x480 which was around 11 MB in size.

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  • Profile picture of the author Zeus66
    Yeah, what Brian wrote was mostly way over my head. LOL but MP4 works fine for me. Don't overthink it.

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    • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
      Originally Posted by Zeus66 View Post

      Yeah, what Brian wrote was mostly way over my head. LOL but MP4 works fine for me. Don't overthink it.

      HA! Of course you're right, John.

      Still, I have a lot of respect for craft of video production. I work with some tremendously talented folks and what they create deserves to be seen in the highest possible quality.

      Much like MP3 "dumbed down" the quality standard for music production, I'm certain that video pros cringe when they see how BAD their creative output gets mangled on video sharing sites.

      There are definitely some steps that can be taken without too much pain to ensure that you wind up with a distributed file that looks good.

      I'm not really qualified, so hopefully some of the video brains will chime in.

      One thing is certain though, the better quality your "master" file that you upload is, the better your distributed video will be after it gets "crunched".

      I have typical consumer broadband with a fairly wimpy upstream channel at only 40 kilobytes per second. Uploading a 95 meg video can easily bump into the "point of diminishing returns" for a presentation video.


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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Chua
    MP4 or avi format works well on youtube videos. Just be very sure that the quality of the video taken is good for an outstanding output when uploaded.
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  • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
    Its actually changed over the years...

    The best format is the highest quality you can possibly upload to YT and keep under the 1 gb size limit.

    For example I was able to upload a 4 minute full HD m2t format video.

    If you need compression h.264 works good but don't compress your video too much.

    Also the format and compression you upload depends on what you want to achieve on YT. For example certain bit rates are required to qualify for HD etc.

    Your goal should be to upload the highest quality master file with the least compression possible for the best results.
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  • Profile picture of the author IWebGirl

    Youtube tells you all this. Why don't you visit. Why don't you visit their help center?
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    • Profile picture of the author Josh Anderson
      Originally Posted by IWebGirl View Post


      Youtube tells you all this. Why don't you visit. Why don't you visit their help center?
      That's also something I forgot to mention...

      Funny thing is that for the first couple years of Youtube their help center contained terrible and incorrect strategies for obtaining the best quality. This was an advantage for those of us who had tested and discovered hacks and our own methods.

      But now YT help center actually has the best info on the topics... there are still some hacks they don't list but they cover stuff like quality correctly.
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  • Profile picture of the author ~kev~
    I upload my videos in 640X480 WMV format, 30 frames per second and at the highest bitrate I can save them to. This is usually a 2.0 - 2.1 bitrate and equals about 10 - 15 megs per minute of video. So an 6 - 8 minute video will be right at 100 - 110 megs.

    One of the most recent videos I posted on youtube, I think it was about 6 minutes and 120 megs.

    Some people say the format is important, and it might be, but I think the bitrate and size is more important.
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  • Profile picture of the author highbids
    Hi All,

    I'm going to be using Traffic Geyser for uploading &
    promoting the videos & here's what they recommend.

    Here are the settings you should use for best results (You can export using QuickTime on PCs or Macs):
    * H264/MPEG4 Video
    * 640 x 480 or 720 x 480 resolution
    * 1500 kbps
    * Stereo, 44.1 khz or 48 hhz
    * 16 bit audio
    * 128k or 160k bit rate
    We also recommend the following formats: Quicktime (.MOV), Windows Media (.WMV), MPEG4 (.MP4), AVI (.avi) and MPEG2 (.mpg). Note: Flash (FLV) files will NOT upload to most video sites.
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  • Profile picture of the author venu
    I use .avi & .mpeg4 formats to upload in youtube. These two formats works well but make sure your videos are made of good quality

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  • Profile picture of the author TheRichJerksNet
    I tested this to some degree as far as trying to get videos that will be ready for just about everyone and ofcourse lower the load time for those that have slower connections...

    Using Camtasia I tried Windows Media, QuickTime, .SWF, and .FLV - I tried on many different quality settings as some I would set to 50% and each output I would go up 10%... What I have found is that going with .FLV at 90% is about the best for videos that are going to 5+ minutes long. It takes a long time to output but the file size, load times, and quality with those settings are great.

    With that said though I think most video upload sites will take .SWF format and then they will convert the file...

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  • Profile picture of the author Mukul Verma
    I would agree with Josh on highest quality below 1 gig. Now if you are using Traffic Geyser you are distributing to multiple sites so I would watchout that you meet the other sites criteria's as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sean Donahoe
    FLV's are great, especially if you are streaming them yourself later. Though encoding them at a respectable size can be a pain sometimes.

    If you are using a video distribution service like TubeMogul or TrafficGeyser then I would recommend the almost universally supported mp4 format encoded with H264. This works with almost all video sites.

    As Josh recommended, go for the highest quality bitrate you can (anything above 600 for video and 128kb for audio) is ideal.

    The other cool thing with mp4's is that they are supported by almost all video software as well as sites themselves and it is very easy to stream them as part of the beauty of this is that MP4's can be optimized for streaming or hinted-streaming from your own server or a cloud server like Amazon S3.

    I almost always use MP4's for my videos and stream many GBs from Amazon for my courses and niches.

    All the best

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  • Profile picture of the author Andy Jenkins
    This might be only tangentially related, but it might help...

    This is just part of a process that's worked well for me.

    When I output a final master video, I do it as close to "Uncompressed" as I can. When working on a Mac, I used the ProRes HQ codec, or the Animation Codec. The resulting files sizes are HUGE. On the windows side, I would used 2:1 compression and output as an interlaced AVI.

    No matter what platform, I used uncompressed Audio at 48Khz - .Aiff on Mac and .Wav on Windows.

    I label this my "Duplication Master". That's the highest possible quality that I'd "NEVER" need. Uncompressed HD won't play back without dropping frames unless you've got a barn-burner of a machine.

    But that doesn't matter - because I'll immediately take that Duplication Master and Encode it 9 ways to Sunday for "Distribution".

    The key here is that when you upload, YouTube is gonna encode your file to their specifications. Sure, there are hacks for tricking the encoder to leave the I or B frames alone, but the fact is, their encoder is pretty sweet - and most of the time, when people screw around with the hacks, it results is an awful progressive stream (Buffering) because the Atom file is sending the wrong information to the player.

    So, think about your workflow process this way: Create a "Duplication Master" in as lightly compressed of a format as you can. Then no matter what kind of encoding you need, you'll always be "striking" a version from the highest quality available - without having to export from your video editing application.

    Then, if you're uploading to a sharing site that has it's own encoding, "strike" a duplicate of your master at a compression setting that results in a file size that is just small enough to get under their size limit.

    Just go get QuickTime Pro as an encoder (Seriously, it's great) if you don't have dedicated encoding software. Encode with the H.264 Codec as an Mp4. Use 2-Pass Variable Bit encoding at a bit rate of around 2.5k for Standard Def (640x480 or 720x480) and around 4k for 720 HD. Keep the audio as high fidelity as possible (meaning, leave it at 48k), but if you have to, down-sample the output to 44.1 kHz Stereo (provided that you have a stereo mix) using AAC compression (a drop down menu in the QT Pro Settings) at a bit rate of 256k.

    This will result in what post production supervisors call an "Intermediate" Master. This will DRAMATICALLY reduce the file size to something that's manageable (and make uploading take place in a reasonable amount of time), yet keep the quality at a level that won't result in noticeable degradations when YT's encoders get done with it.

    Now, this is important - your Intermediate Master is not designed for Web Use. It's designed to be FED into another encoder. Meaning, please don't embed an Intermediate Master on your site and expect anyone but those who have 40MB FIOS connections to be able to watch it uninterrupted.

    If you intend on creating a "Web-Ready" Master, there are some other considerations - like, Frame Rate, for example. If you have live video from a Flip cam, it's at 30 Frames Per Second. If you're sharing a screen cast or a PPT slideshow, you might only decide that the lack of movement on the screen means that 8 frames per second is all you need. I've encoded slide show content at 1 FPS when I wanted to be REALLY miserly, there was virtually no movement (just switching slides), and it was a long presentation.

    If you take the same parameters for an Mp4 with H.264 encoding, but dial down the bandwidth variables to between 350k-550k for the Video Stream, and 48k-96k for Audio, somewhere in there is the perfect progressive download (meaning, "fake streaming") bandwidth and file size.

    Hope that wasn't too confusing. I should make a video to explain it better.

    Hey - there's a thought...

    "Shakespeare didn't have a word-processor. When we got word-processors, we didn't get Shakespeare"
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    • Profile picture of the author BrianMcLeod
      Originally Posted by Andy Jenkins View Post

      Hope that wasn't too confusing. I should make a video to explain it better.
      Thanks, Andy.

      The big video brains come through. Free workflow clinic from a post-pro master...

      Awesome squared.


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  • Profile picture of the author Sean Donahoe
    Hey Andy,

    Appreciate that detailed post. With all the video production I am doing here I had to buy 4TB storage as I do everything uncompressed and do final output with Final Cut Studio to produce a final output using either Compressor for DVD output or QuickTime Pro for web usage.

    I have noticed that when using anything below 96k for audio you get into the "Tinny" sounding vocal issues but that is a great tip for the "Fake Streaming".

    All the best

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  • Profile picture of the author innocent07
    Which video format is best for the other 50+ video sharing sites?

    (which format would be most definately likely to be accepted by the other 50+ Video sharing sites)
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    • Profile picture of the author Scott Lundergan
      Andy's spot-on with the ProRes 422. I export all our masters with it in post and use the animation codec for all shorter screen capture videos.

      That really is the secret sauce of Mac and because it's 422 (higher samples of colors) or animation (lossless), it retains an amazing quality of WYSIWYG color from the edit and then over to encoding for the web.

      Originally Posted by innocent07 View Post

      Which video format is best for the other 50+ video sharing sites?

      (which format would be most definately likely to be accepted by the other 50+ Video sharing sites)
      Read the part from Andy's post about Quicktime Pro going to MP4 using the .264 codec and that is what gets accepted to most all video sharing sites while maintaining as much quality across the spectrum and keeping the file at a much smaller size (say, if you can only upload 50-150 megs, etc etc). In other words, a good middle ground.
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