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Tech Specs for internet productions

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Tom Valens
Tech Specs for internet productions
on Jan 23, 2013 at 6:30:39 pm

I'm used to editing for film and television, but now I'm doing a series of videos that will play exclusively on the internet and I'm wondering about technical specs I should be concerned about. The series is 10 short (5-6 minute) pieces that will play on about 25 websites from a YouTube channel, appearing every two weeks. I'm editing in FCP 7 with Pro Res 422 timelines.

Specifically, with regard to video: should I still keep everything peaked at 100 IRE, or can I go up to 110? So far I've been using mostly the RGB Balance filter and the RGB Parade scope to keep things under 100, using Range Check to double check. Is this still necessary?

With regard to audio, for television I've tried to keep my basic loud audio to around -12db, peaking at -6db. However, I've usually been able to use a professional mixing facility to make the final track, and am not sure what peaks they end up with. This time I'll have to do it myself. Is this still a reasonable strategy for the internet, or should I boost everything at the end so my peaks are 0 (or maybe -1 to be safe)?

Also, is there any reason not to compress to 1080? I know in the past it's been recommended than anything over 720 was overkill. But now with more people viewing internet material on large high def monitors, it seems to me 1080 would be a better choice. The YouTube auto or resolution selection function still allows it to play at a lower resolution for those with slower connections. Only drawback I can see is longer upload times, but with only posting one every two weeks that isn't a problem.

Any thoughts? Thanks

Tom Valens
Tamalpais Productions
Forest Knolls, CA

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Simon Modery
Re: Tech Specs for internet productions
on Jan 24, 2013 at 9:17:43 am

Hi Tom,
I normally export to an H.264 file for YouTube upload. I would definitely go for 1080. Even if few people actually choose to watch it in this resolution nowadays, it will be the YouTube standard in a few years from now. Your work is much more "future-proof" in 1080.
Yes, you can use super whites on Youtube, so going up to 110 IRE is OK.
The sound is a difficult one. Since most of the clips on YouTube are amateur creations there is no real sound standard. I prefer to level to -12db as you do for television because it gives you enough headroom for really loud sounds light shouting or gunshots. But some clients have complained that the sound on their videos is to low in comparison with other YouTube clips. So I now boost the levels as much as possible even though it feels technically wrong.


Head of Postproduction

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Alex Elkins
Re: Tech Specs for internet productions
on Jan 25, 2013 at 11:00:07 am

I'll just throw my opinion into the mix regarding audio levels, because as Simon points out, there is no defined standard.

Personally I would prefer to mix to a -10dB peak (averaging -14 to -12dB) same as I'm used to for TV/film. Why? Because I don't think the uninformed majority should have any say over what the technical specifications should be. However, the reality is that we're competing with people who just add their favourite song to a cat video without any thought for audio levels. What this means is that people come to view our 'properly' mixed audio as too quiet. Therefore I boost the levels by about 6 to 9 dB for web outputs (depending on the general loudness of the content).

Alex Elkins
View my new colour correction reel

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Andrew Kimery
Re: Tech Specs for internet productions
on Jan 26, 2013 at 9:32:49 am

Even when doing internet work I always do my best to adhere to b'cast standards because you never know when someone will want it put down to tape or DVD and I hate doing the same work twice (this goes for title safe too).

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