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I Need High-Quality HD Videos To Still Look Great at 360p in YouTube

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Aaron Bilgrad
I Need High-Quality HD Videos To Still Look Great at 360p in YouTube
on Oct 8, 2013 at 9:41:42 am

Ok, I would love to get some definitive compression guidelines to getting super high quality videos that work on YouTube's default 360p setting.

I have been to every message board, and it seems that most people who respond don't understand the problem, so I will explain it clearly.

I make music videos, and YouTube's default setting (which is what almost everybody uses) is 360p. I use high quality equipment and shoot my videos correctly. They look fantastic in HD. My settings are 1080p, and they also look good at 720p if that's necessary. However, YouTube downgrades your footage to 360p and my videos look absolutely terrible (fuzzy, grainy, etc...). What's so confusing is that I've seen a lot of videos on YouTube from other artists that look fantastic at 360p. Crystal clear. And almost every professional music video you see from an artist you've heard of looks great on YouTube.

I export my videos to H.264, and do everything they tell me to do on their site. But it still looks terrible.

Other message boards tell me to just adjust the settings on YouTube to display a 720 or 1080 HD video, but that doesn't solve the real problem at hand. NOBODY is going to do that -- actually most casual YouTube users don't even know that's an option. And when you're trying to promote new music artists, I need to ensure that a casual viewer has a good visual experience with my video.

Surely, there must be a way to export the video by adjusting the settings that allows for the video to look crisp and clear at 360p. The proof is that so many videos on YouTube DO LOOK GOOD at 360p -- so what am I doing wrong? What are the magical compression setting from Final Cut or Compressor that will solve this once and for all. If you have this answer, I can guarantee that you will be helping thousands of video creators out there. I've been on these forums for hours, but there is simply no answer. Worse off, the moderators don't even understand the problem. So I'll repeat it one more time:

We need the specific compressor settings so that our high-quality videos (the ones that look gorgeous quicktime files on our computers) look just as good on YouTube's 360p default setting.

Your expertise is not only appreciated, but deeply needed at an emergency level. And please don't ask for samples. If you need proof, just type in the name of any musical artist -- watch any video you want, it will look great on YouTube and the setting will be 360p. That should explain it.


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Basil Anthony Harewood
Re: I Need High-Quality HD Videos To Still Look Great at 360p in YouTube
on Apr 1, 2014 at 2:27:31 pm

Yo, Aron. This is exactly the same question I've been asking myself over and over again when looking for the perfect compression settings for my music videos on youtube. Literally every major label artists with a video on youtube seems to have an amazing crystal clear video when at 360p. HOW!?

Is it to do with having a tonne of money from majors for a vevo account? If anyone can please help with this like Aaron said, it will help so many of us video directors making good work that looks terrible when uploaded to youtube. HELP!


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Aaron Bilgrad
Re: I Need High-Quality HD Videos To Still Look Great at 360p in YouTube
on Apr 1, 2014 at 7:34:26 pm

Hi Basil,

This has been my conundrum for a long time. The possible solution that was recommended (i.e. uploading at 50,000kbs) doesn't really make a difference. After about 20,000, you've already basically made it as good as it's going to get (as far as YouTube is concerned).

Vimeo is a separate beast entirely. They are HD by default and probably the best way to show your video. However, if you're like me, you want your video on YouTube because YouTube is the most shared service. Nobody really shares Vimeo. I use Vimeo to host videos on my website, but certain videos I want on YouTube because, let's be honest, that is where people go to watch stuff. (Side Note: Be careful with your export settings. Vimeo has a slight glitch which can cause videos audio to be out of sync by about a 1/4 of a second. Usually not a big deal, but if you're editing to a music video to the beat, it could show.)

I have talked to a lot of people about this YouTube 360p problem, and while I'm not totally sure this is the answer, it appears to be the consensus. High profile artists (e.g. Kanye, Jay-Z, or basically anybody you can name) tend to have higher production budgets. Thus they likely shoot on high grade cameras like the Red or the Alexa. These cameras can shoot sharper imagery (4K), and thus, I think, still look good at lower 360p default quality. Plus, they put a budget into lighting everything correctly. Plus, getting higher quality lenses makes a difference. Normal people, if you will, can't afford that, so they shoot on the best they can find. I use the Canon 5D Mark 3, and while it's still professional-grade and does look great in HD, YouTube's default 360p setting isn't kind. It's always a little fuzzy, especially if there's a lot of camera movement (i.e. whips, pans, or handheld).

This is just my conclusion, but if any experts on here could shed light on why the YouTube 360p default makes some high-quality videos look much worse than they are, please shine a light on it. We can't find the answers anywhere.


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Basil Anthony Harewood
Re: I Need High-Quality HD Videos To Still Look Great at 360p in YouTube
on Apr 1, 2014 at 3:03:22 pm

Yo, Aron. This is exactly the same question I've been asking myself over and over again when looking for the perfect compression settings for my music videos on youtube. Literally every major label artists with a video on youtube seems to have an amazing crystal clear video when at 360p. HOW!?

Is it to do with having a tonne of money from majors for a vevo account? If anyone can please help with this like Aaron said, it will help so many of us video directors making good work that looks terrible when uploaded to youtube. HELP!


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Craig Seeman
Re: I Need High-Quality HD Videos To Still Look Great at 360p in YouTube
on Apr 1, 2014 at 3:08:55 pm

YouTube recommendations.
https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/1722171?rd=1

Note 1080p at 50,000kbps. That would likely give their best quality for downrezing.



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Tony Mcfly
Re: I Need High-Quality HD Videos To Still Look Great at 360p in YouTube
on Jan 1, 2015 at 4:02:26 am

its crazy how the answer still wasnt giving


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Auki Henry
Re: I Need High-Quality HD Videos To Still Look Great at 360p in YouTube
on May 1, 2015 at 9:58:00 pm

Aaron, thank you for putting your post so succinctly I understand exactly the problem you are describing as it has had my brain hurting for months trying to figure it out.

Everywhere I have searched I have come up against the same answers from people not fully understanding what you are talking about who keep trying to link back to the YouTube recommended settings page. These do not work, and no one seems to have an answer.

In fact the closest I have come to achieving something that is 75% decent has been to use the 55,000kbs trick when encoding as a 1080p .flv/f4v - still falls way short of the quality of some of these other clips.

If anyone has an answer please share. Here's a tip for anyone suggesting that we check out the YouTube recommended settings page. We've all tried it - that's why this post was created - they still don't solve this problem.

PS in terms of the theory of camera equipment being one possible explanation, the last feature we shot was with an Arri Alexa / RED Lens and a Sony FS700 / Canon PL Mount and good quality Canon glass - I'm not sure how much better quality you'd want to have to use to achieve 360p goodness on YouTube!


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