Here’s the third and final part of our Progression Production Tips. If you have read the previous parts then check them out:
So you’ve filmed your mates, spent every evening for a month editing all the footage down into a snappy 5 minute video and then all to often it ends up on YouTube looking blocky or blurry. This post is how to get it out to the masses, looking as good as it did on your computer plus we’ll look at the various websites where you can host your videos and all the features they offer.
So we’ll do this in reverse, we’ll look at the hosting of your video first as this impact how you encode your video…
Most people are going to look to put their video out on the internet for anyone and everyone to view and the free hosting options available are endless. Sorry to be boring but at the moment the obvious choice is the best, you can’t really go wrong with YouTube! In the past the cool kids all used Vimeo, as they offered High Definition (HD) playback of video and their site was clean and simply. But YouTube has caught up now and offer the same HD playback, and if you encode your video and upload it correctly you’ll get amazing quality*. Also with YouTube you’ll get the most passing traffic and playback through other sources – iPhones, Apple TVs etc along with easy embedding into other websites/forums etc.
We put all our free Progression video out on YouTube and have had great results.
KiteForum.tv – A YouTube of sorts for kiters, upload your videos and get them out to 1000’s of kiters. We put all our videos up on it but find it easier to just embed our YouTube uploaded videos on the site – saves uploading to both sites and you still get to see all your stats on the YouTube site (you don’t get any of that with KiteForum.tv). Only issues is that KiteForum.tv doesn’t show the HD version of a video but people can click through to YouTube to get that higher quality version. Example (Note to Toby – let us embed the HD version ;-)
Flickr – If you are into your photos too then Flickr can be a good option for shorter videos (90 secs or less). Example
Blip.tv – A good way of having multiple videos in a playlist, and embed that playlist into your own site. It has several other good pro features and is something we used with several of our Production clients. Example
If you’re uploading to any of these services then you need to export/encode your final video into a single video file that can be uploaded to your hosting service. There used to be alot of restrictions on this in the past but these days you can upload in pretty much any format BUT generally there is one codec that will suit you best – H.264. This is becoming the unofficial standard for internet video at higher qualities, and any modern editing program will have options to export in this codec.
Lets clear up a quick area that confuses many people – Containers and Codecs. Any video file will have a single container into which there can be multiple video and audio streams, and those streams are encoding in various codecs. Most of the time you’ll have a container with a single video and audio stream.Eg.
- Quicktime (Container), Sorensen Spark (Video Codec), Mp3 (Audio Codec)
- Windows Media Video (Container), WMV 9 (Video Codec), WMA 9 (Audio Codec)
- MP4 (Video codec), H.264 (Video Codec), AAC (Audio Codec).
Resolution, Fields & Frame rates:
The size of the video has become simpler now we have HD video. For Standard Definition video (HD) it was a bit more complicated because the resolution for PAL and NTSC video was different, 720×576 (PAL) or 720×480 (NTSC). With HD video we have the same resolutions for PAL or NTSC and you’ll find that the two main HD sizes are 1280×720 or 1920×1080.
Mixed in with this we have interlaced or progressive video. Interlaced is where each frame records only the odd or even lines and then they are mixed together into a single frame. This would be specified as 50i (50 frames interlaced, which ends up at 25 full frames a second) or 60i. Progressive is where each frame contains all the lines at that particular instant, this is expressed as 25p, 30p or 24p. Why do we have these two types? Interlaced comes from TV where it was a technical necessity for broadcast. Progressive has its roots in film but also for internet video, progressive is the normal. This becomes important when we export our final video, to ensure we get a de-interlaced progressive video file that will display correctly online – have you seen this before with footage:
The frame grab on the right is interlaced, whilst on the right its been made progression. Click the image to a large version and you’ll see the different easily.
And as we have touched on above, there are different frame rates – the number of images or frames that make up one second of video. Generally we there are 3 main frames:
- 25 fps – The standard in PAL video, used in the UK, Europe, Oz and Africa.
- 30 fps – The standard in NTSC video, used in the US, South America and Japan**
- 24 fps – The standard for films for broadcast at the cinema.
All the major video hosting sites will deal with any of the frame rates, but it maybe worth checking if you are having problems getting good quality on other video sites, if they have limitations on this.
OK, so with all the background overview of containers, codecs, resolutions, fields and frame rates we can get on to exporting our video.
Finally lets encode…
So if you are going with the h.264 codec, then its best to use the mp4 container and aac audio codec. For windows users, you might find it simpler using Windows Media Video, as its Microsoft’s own format, but there is little that I can suggest on this. For Mac fans, you can make life easy by using the standard AppleTV preset that most video software on Mac offers – its truly exceptional quality output. But whatever you use the defaults below are what you want to stick too:
Size: I recommend that you export at a size of what most people would say is 720p – 1280 x 720 progressive, and this can be any of the frames rates we listed above, just use the one your camera shoots in.***
Data Rate: Then you need to consider your data rate. You want it as large as possible, so that when the video site re-encodes your video for display on their site, you lose the least amount of quality. I think a data rate of 2500 kbps will suffice for most people, but anything up to 5000 kbps will work well.
Fields: Most consumer video programs should handle interlaced video well enough that their default exporting options will sort out any of the field, black line and ghosting issues that we discussed early. If you find that you are having problems you might want to look for some setting for “Field Dominance” on the problematic clips or sequence. It can be a tricky one to sort out and the solution is unique to each program.
Audio: Finally you have to pick your sound options, I generally go with 96kbps or 128kbps and have never had any issues with this.
So once you have it all setup correctly, click the submit/export button and sit back and wait. and wait. and wait ;-) Well this kind of depends on how powerful your machine is but encode to h.264 can be pretty slow but that is what it takes to get great compression.
Finally login into your YouTube account (or video host of choice) and get uploading!!
I hope that this series of post has been helpful to you all and please feel free to ask any question in the comments or drop us an email if you have any further questions, something to add or disagree adamantly with me!
* Sites like YouTube don’t just take your uploaded video, re-encode it for display and then throw away your original. They hang on it and re-encode the different versions of the your video as and when they think it will give a better result – so uploading in the best quality possible makes a different both now and in the future.
** Actually NTSC is not 30 fps but 29.97 fps – a small but important difference. 59.94 MHz is the frequency of power in the US, compared to 50 MHz in the UK/Europe, this is where the frames rates were derived from (50 MHz => 50i => which is common just called 25 frames per second)
*** You might be interested to know that the short hand for resolution/fields/frame rate is lineheight|field|framerate eg. 720p25 or 1080i60