Making Music Videos for YouTube | Part 3

Photo by Playstar Rocker

Your masterpiece is finally complete and you're ready to go live to the world. It's time to output your video and upload it to an online video site. This is where we talk about formatting and compression. Most of the big video sites like YouTube and Vimeo will accept a lot of different formats, but you can save yourself some headaches by using formats that offer high-quality (better looking) compression and work well with HTML5, since that will be viewable by devices that don't support Flash (like iPhones, iPads, iPods, and other i-things). The default file format right now among content producers seems to be H.264, so I would highly recommend that you output with that compression type.

There are a couple of things to remember when outputting your video:

Don't compress an already compressed file if you can avoid it. Always output from the high-quality footage that you filmed or edited directly to your movie file. When you re-compress a movie file that has already been compressed, you degrade the footage and cause a lot of problems that could've easily been avoided. So always compress directly from the highest-quality footage that you can i.e. directly from your editing timeline or raw footage.

You may want to check deinterlace if that is an option. Many DV cameras (especially standard definition ones) film only part of the scene with each individual frame so you may get weird horizontal lines in your footage if you don't deinterlace on output.

Output your video at the correct aspect ratio and resolution. It's usually best to output the video at the resolution that the camera filmed at. You can find this information in your camera manual. If the camera is filming standard definition, then that's usually 854x480 pixels for widescreen and 640x480 pixels for 4:3 (the more square, old TV aspect ratio). If it's filming HD, it's usually either 720p (1280x720 pixels) or 1080p (1920x1080 pixels). Stay with this size because upsizing will just degrade the quality of the footage and most video sites will automatically downgrade the footage to smaller sizes for slower connections.

Always provide the video site with the highest-quality output that you can. So you want to output to the correct aspect ratio and resolution, but you also want to provide them with the highest-quality audio that they will accept. Just like they downgrade your video footage to smaller sizes for slower connections, they'll usually downgrade the audio as well for slower connections. So they're guilty of re-compressing a compressed file! You can improve your chances of getting a good result by giving them the best quality audio possible. So I recommend setting the audio output for your video file to 320kbps MP3 or AAC. That way when they downgrade the audio for slower connections, they'll be basing the compression on the most data-rich file that you can give them. Hey, we are making MUSIC videos here aren't we?

So here are some complete settings that I use and would recommend for the different movie sizes.

-Standard Def 4:3-
H.264 compression
Data Rate around 2000kbps
Size: 640x480 pixels
320kbps AAC or MP3 audio at 44.1 kHz sample rate

-Standard Def Widescreen-
H.264 compression
Data Rate around 3000kbps
Size: 854x480 pixels
320kbps AAC or MP3 audio at 44.1 kHz sample rate

-HD 720p-
H.264 compression
Data Rate around 5000kbps
Size: 1280x720 pixels
320kbps AAC or MP3 audio at 44.1 kHz sample rate

-HD 1080p-
H.264 compression
Data Rate around 6000kbps
Size: 1920x1080 pixels
320kbps AAC or MP3 audio at 44.1 kHz sample rate

And thus ends our brief series on video production. I hope you found it helpful and feel free to post any lingering questions you might have in the comments section.

Jordan Colley is the resident video production guy at Line 6 HQ. His essays on applied video theory and its effects on Tarsius Tarsier would have been quite profound had he ever done the research or written them.