Product Videos

Best video format for YouTube

Ruth
Ruth
November 24, 2021, 10 mins read
Ethics of research and participant recruitment

So you just started your Youtube channel and are new to creating Youtube videos, or maybe you just aren’t sure about choosing the ideal video format for Youtube, in either case, you’ve come to the right place. After reading this blog, not only will you have learned about the different Youtube video formats and why choosing the proper Youtube video format matters but you’ll also be able to positively choose the best video format for Youtube.

YouTube video creator visualization
Image by Mudassar Iqbal from Pixabay

Youtube is a place where the “quality” of content has more significance than the “quantity”, which means that as long as you’re creating videos that are appealing to your viewers, it doesn’t matter how long they are. According to a study, Youtube is the second most used social media platform, 79% of people who use the Internet have Youtube accounts, and the majority of them state entertainment as their main purpose to visit the site.

Before concluding to a video format, it is quite crucial to have an overview of the different video formats. So let’s jump straight into it.

What are video formats to be precise, and what’s the ideal Youtube video format?

A video file format is a type of file format that stores audio, video, subtitles, and any other metadata. According to Youtube, the best video format is MP4 with AAC-LC audio codec, H.264 video codec, and a standard aspect ratio of 16:9 or (1920 x 1080) px, but all of this sounds complicated and doesn’t sum things up, so let’s learn about what each of these terms means.

  • What is MP4?

MP4 stands for MPEG-4 Part 14, it is a compressed file format created by Motion Picture Experts Group, based on Apple’s QuickTime MOV format, and is supported by almost all devices and platforms. This file format is capable of storing audio, video, still images, subtitles, and text.

MP4 format files
Image source: https://bit.ly/3FnbUvO

A lot of people hold the misconception that MP3 and MP4 are two different versions of the same thing, MP3 is short for MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 and this file format is used for storing audio files only, this shows how flexible MP4 files are.

  • What is an audio codec?

It is a computer program capable of converting analog audio signals to digital signals for transmission or encoding them for storage. Analog audio signals are alternating current (AC) electrical voltages, while a digital signal is a signal that represents data as a sequence of discrete values, but let’s keep it to what’s relevant and not get too deep into this.

  • AAC-LC

AAC-LC is a type of audio codec and it stands for Advanced Audio Coding-Low Complexity, being the most commonly used AAC profile it is the official successor to the MP3 format. AAC is usually wrapped inside an MP4 container, for this reason, AAC can also be referred to as MP4 audio, what is a container you may ask? the container is like a box that contains your video, audio, and metadata.

AAC-LC
Image source: http://www.voiceage.com/xHE-AAC.html
  • H.264 video codec

H.264 or MPEG-4 Part 10, is also referred to as Advanced Video Coding (AVC)/(MPEG-4 AVC). Being the most commonly used format for the recording, compression, and distribution of video content, it supports resolutions including and up to 8K UHD.

The purpose of creating H.264 was to innovate a new digital video standard capable of delivering good video quality at a considerably lower bitrate than previous standards without overly complicating the design so that the application remains practical and relatively inexpensive. Bitrate is just the number of bits that are conveyed or processed per unit time.

  • Aspect Ratio

The Aspect Ratio is the proportional relationship between a video’s width and height measured in pixels. But this doesn’t mean that a video with a 16:9 aspect ratio would be 16 px wide and 9 px tall, seeing a video this small would be impossible. A video that has an aspect ratio of 16:9 is of 1920 px by 1080 px resolution, just to add things up 1920÷1080 simplifies to 16÷9. A standard aspect ratio of 16:9 is considered optimal because it is capable of the highest resolution.

aspect ratios example
Image source: https://bit.ly/32iKeu9
  • Resolution

Resolution is a measure used to determine the amount of detail, sharpness, and clarity of the video. It is the total number of pixels displayed on your computer or television screen. Higher resolution indicates a higher number of pixels. The resolution of a 2K, 4K, or 8K video is named for the number of pixels running in a horizontal line across the frame.

Video resolutions example
Image source: https://bit.ly/2YXcssO

Another common misconception is assuming that the “p” that often appears after a resolution as in 1080p, stands for “pixels”, this assumption is incorrect. The “p” actually stands for progressive scan, which is the typical method for loading the pixels in each new frame of a video.

  • 1080 Resolution (Full HD) video

1080 resolution is often referred to as “full HD” video, (1920 x 1080 pixels) is the industry standard for HD digital video that doesn’t break your storage space.

  • Frame Rate

A video isn’t one continuous recording. It is rather individual images that are flashed on a screen in quick progression to make a moving image. Frame rate refers to the frequency at which these individual images are displayed, and is commonly expressed in frames per second (FPS).

The frame rate of a video can also be called the frame frequency, expressed in Hertz, so if a video is captured and played back at 24 FPS 0r 24 Hertz, it means each second of the video shows 24 distinct still images.

  • Ideal Frame Rate

Different frame rates give different results, so selecting the best one means going with an option that best fits what you’re trying to create.

  • 24 FPS

Being the standard for movies and TV shows, it was set on to be the minimum speed needed to capture video while still maintaining realistic motion, even if a film is shot at a higher rate, it’s often produced and displayed at 24 FPS.

  • 30 FPS

This has been the standard for television since the early days and still is widely used despite film producers shifting to a more cinematic 24 FPS. Videos with a lot of movement, such as sports, will often make the most from the extra frames per second.

  • 60 FPS

Anything higher than 30fps is mainly used to create slow-motion videos or to record video game footage.

Making your Youtube video eligible for uploading

Uploading a video to Youtube that is saved in the unsupported video format will make you receive an “invalid file format” error message.

To avoid this it is important to know the factors like maximum Youtube video file size allowed, maximum/minimum video length, and the video formats supported by Youtube.

You can find a list of file formats supported by Youtube below.

Maximum Youtube video size

According to Google, verified accounts are limited to videos that are 12 hours, or 128 GB’s, “whichever is less”, while default/non-verified accounts can upload videos that are only up to 15 minutes long.

Some other file formats supported by Youtube

Here’s an overview of some other youtube video formats, make sure you’re using one of the following.

  • MOV

Developed by Apple, MOV is a MPEG 4 video container file that represents QuickTime video format.

  • MPEG-1

MPEG-1 is a standard for lossy compression of video and audio.

  • MPEG-2

MPEG-2 AKA H.222/H.262 is a standard for the generic coding of moving pictures and associated audio information.

  • MPEG-4

MPEG-4 is designed to deliver DVD-quality video (MPEG-2) at lower data rates and smaller file sizes.

  • MPG

An MPG file is a common video file that uses a digital video format standardized by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG). It stores video, audio, and metadata interleaved together.

  • AVI

AVI is short for Audio Video Interleaved, it is the standard format used for video files under Microsoft Windows.MWMV

MWMV is a file format introduced by Microsoft as a series of video codecs, WMV is short for “Microsoft’s Windows Media Video”, it is a compressed video container format made for the Windows Media Framework.

  • MPEG-PS

MPEG-PS is shorty for “Moving Picture Expert Group-Program Stream”. A program stream contains audio, video, and data in a format for multiplexing, multiplexing is a method by which multiple analog or digital signals are combined into one signal over a shared medium.

  • FLV

FLV is short for “Flash Video”, it is an Adobe Flash video file type that has been the most popular video file type for a long time.

  • 3GPP

3GPP stands for “Third Generation Partnership Project”, it is a collaborative project between a group of telecommunications, it was established in December 1998 to develop a specification for a 3G mobile phone system based on the 2G GSM system.

  • WebM

Based on the Matroska container, the WebM video format manages to support great video quality. WebM video format was initially designed for the web, as this format is supported in HTML5.

  • ProRes

ProRes is a video codec made by Apple in 2007, ProRes can compress a video into a small file while retaining a lot of the image quality and color.

  • HEVC (H.265)

HEVC, short for High-Efficiency Video Coding also known as H.265 and MPEG-H Part 2, is a video compression standard designed as part of the MPEG-H project as a successor to the widely used Advanced Video Coding (AVC), H.264, or MPEG-4 Part 10.

Quick Tips

Here are some quick tips that may help you.

  • Recording a video with your mobile phone automatically saves it as an MP4 file.
  • You can use a file format converter to upload videos that aren’t compatible with youtube.
  • If your video size exceeds the Youtube limit, you can try compressing it using video editing software.
  • Ruth
    Article by
    Ruth

    Ruta is Brand Communication Manager at Billo, responsible for everything visual and written. Ruta is passionate about marketing and trends - from trusted to unique ways of building a brand. In her spare time, she is interested in art, literature, and raising her dog Vincent.

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