Are you a YouTube creator looking to attract and retain viewers with engaging videos?
If yes, one of the things to consider is the quality of your videos. It's no secret that viewers are drawn to content that provides a sharp and high-quality viewing experience.
Believe it or not, there's more to excelling as a YouTuber than creating videos or having great content ideas. To thrive on the platform, you must ensure you upload your videos using the proper settings.
These settings help you adhere to YouTube's requirements and enhance the quality of your videos. To this end, this guide covers the best settings for uploading and encoding YouTube videos.
Ready to step up your content game?
Let's dig in!
YouTube’s Requirements for Uploading Videos
As a YouTube creator, you must understand the basic requirements for uploading videos to YouTube. If your videos fail to meet these requirements, you may find it hard to successfully upload your videos to the platform.
Even if you get to upload the video, you may find it hard to retain viewers.
This is due to the poor viewing experience that comes with uploading videos with subpar settings.
In any case, below are some of YouTube's basic video uploading and encoding requirements.
- The preferred format is MP4.
- The preferred max resolution is 4K.
- Video frame rate must be maintained during the recording, encoding, and uploading phases.
- The preferred audio codec is AAC-LC.
- The preferred audio bitrate is 384kbps (stereo)
- The preferred video bitrate for 4K HDR videos ranges from 44 Mbps to 56 Mbps (for Standard Frame Rate). Then, 66 Mbps to 85Mbps (for High Frame Rate)
If you are new to uploading videos of various lengths to YouTube and are unfamiliar with encoding, you may find it difficult to understand some of these requirements.
But don't worry! We'd walk you through each requirement in detail.
Best Settings for Encoding and Uploading YouTube Videos
Below is a detailed explanation of the best settings for uploading and encoding YouTube videos. Let's jump right in.
1. Video Formats
Video formats are file types in which a video can exist. As with other multimedia file types, there are numerous video formats. One of them is MP4, which stands for MPEG-4 Part 14.
The MP4 file type is the most common video format in the world. It is also the preferred and acceptable video format on YouTube.
In essence, this video format works as a container for videos on portable devices and online streaming platforms.
Apart from storing videos, the MP4 file type also works well as a storage medium for still images and subtitles. However, MP4 aside, other video formats work on YouTube.
Some of them include the following:
- MOV: This video format was developed by Apple. It is compatible with Windows, Apple devices, and their video players.
- MPEG4: This video format was originated by the Moving Picture Expert Group. It is mainly used for storing compressed video and audio files.
- AVI: This stands for Audio Video Interleave and is a video format developed by Microsoft. It is a storage medium for files with synchronous digital audio and video playback.
2. Video Resolution
The number of picture elements is referred to as the video resolution.
It is also known as "pixels" and is spread across your screen or display unit.
As a rule, the higher the video resolution, the clearer, sharper, and crispier the video is.
This is because the high number of pixels available on the screen means more color blocks to fill. This automatically translates to a clearer, more defined, and higher-quality video.
As per YouTube standards, the highest resolution allowed for uploaded videos is 4K.
This also refers to a resolution of 3840 pixels by 2160 pixels. Video resolutions below 4K, such as SD (480p), HD (720p), FHD (1080p), QHD (1440p), and 2K, are also allowed.
Of these resolutions, the HD and FHD resolutions are the most popular that most YouTubers and content creators use.
3. Video Frame Rate
When you watch a video, you see a continuous recording. However, videos are not continuous recordings.
Here’s the thing. The camera records videos by taking multiple images called "frames."
These frames are played back quickly, making it seem like a continuous recording to the eyes.
In any case, the video frame rate measures the number of frames appearing on a screen within seconds.
Thus, the frame rate determines how many frames can appear on a screen within a second.
This is why it is referred to as "frames per second" (fps). The standard frame rate for most videos is between 24 fps and 30 fps.
This means 24 or 30 frames of still images are made to appear on your screen in quick succession within a second.
Live broadcast programs such as news and sports events usually are usually recorded at 30 fps, while TV shows and movies come at 24 fps.
According to YouTube's requirements, you must maintain the same frame rate from the point of recording to encoding and uploading.
So, it does not really matter the frame rate used. As long as it is consistent through all these stages, you are good to go.
4. Audio and Video Codec
Audio codec refers to using a computer program to encode and decode an audio data stream.
The essence of this process is to compress or reduce the size of an audio file without affecting the sound quality.
This makes saving a high-quality audio file with minimal space easy.
While there are many audio codec formats, the best and most preferred format on YouTube is the AAC-LC format.
This is because the format is compatible with many hardware and software players.
The format also offers better quality than other formats (like HE-AAC) at the same bitrate.
The same definition goes for video codecs, as they primarily reduce the size of a video file without affecting its quality.
The acceptable video codec format for YouTube uploads is H.264. This format helps reduce the video bitrates without compromising quality.
H.264 has 80% less bitrate than Motion JPEG, MPEG-2, and other formats but still offers better viewing quality.
5. Video and Audio Bitrate
Bitrate refers to the number of audio or video bits processed in a second.
Now, the audio or video bits refer to the digital signals that make up an audio or video file.
According to YouTube's requirements, the preferred audio bitrate is 384 kbps (stereo).
On the other hand, the preferred video bitrate for 4K HDR videos ranges from 44 Mbps to 56 MBps (for Standard Frame Rate).
Then 66 Mbps to 85 MBps (for High Frame Rate). These bitrates are the standard for high-quality video and audio content.
It is important to mention that the ideal bitrate for your video files depends on the video type and the frame rate.
The general rule is to make the bitrate high enough so YouTube can compress it.
With each of YouTube's requirements carefully explained, you should better understand how they work and how to apply them to create quality videos.
Size vs. Quality: Making the Right Choice
While high-quality videos allow for an impressive viewing experience, the large file size makes it difficult to store and upload.
On the other hand, videos with smaller file sizes are easier and faster to upload at average internet speeds. However, they fall short of the viewing standard of high-quality videos.
So, the question, most times, is whether to sacrifice quality for size or vice versa. As a YouTube creator, the quality of your videos matters a lot, so you should never compromise on quality.
Consequently, it is advisable to go through the stress of uploading high-quality videos that attract and retain viewers. This is way better than quickly uploading a video with poor viewing quality that nobody wants to watch.
As a YouTuber, your main currency is your content.
So, you should ensure that your videos come out looking stellar. One of the ways of ensuring that this happens is by following ideal settings for exporting or uploading your videos.
By leveraging YouTube’s guidelines and requirements, you can create and upload videos that provide an incredible viewing experience.
Thankfully, this guide features a concise breakdown of these guidelines and how to apply them to your videos. Good luck!