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2016 Best Export Settings for YouTube
  • Thought I had my secret sauce for export settings...but pulled a project from about a year ago, making some tweaks, and re-exported using my previous primo Premiere Pro settings...but image was destoryed. Tons of banding/blotchiness, general low resolution, etc (Even when playing in 1080 on YouTube). I was using H.264, 12 Mbps for Target Bit Rate, and 40 Mbps for Max Bit Rate, High Profile 5.1, and checking lower box for rendering at max quality. 3 minute video was 253 MB. I guess YouTube has changed their ways they compress/encode etc. Last year this export looked it's horrible!

    What's everybody using for their export settings these days for YouTube? (and Vimeo for those interested there too)

  • 23 Replies sorted by
  • I was using H.264, 12 Mbps for Target Bit Rate, and 40 Mbps for Max Bit Rate, High Profile 5.1, and checking lower box for rendering at max quality

    Any reason to use such big difference for max and target bitrate? Usually it works good only if you use 2 passes, and youtube will kill it anyway.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev I did 12 and 40 because someone had recommended, and it worked well when I tried it in past. I was doing a VBR 2-pass. What do you recommend for target and max bitrate? 1 or 2 passes?


  • @matt_gh2

    All depends on your video. If it is more or less same - use constant or slightly variable bitrate.

    Youtube will still kill it to almost constant low one.

  • Thanks - will try.

  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev Okay, I think I have more info to get to bottom of this. It plays just fine on new Macs, old Macs, iPhones, Samsung phones (no explosion!), and iPads. But it plays bad on a Windows PC machine. Also it's mostly underexposed areas that are breaking up. I know underexposure leads to blocking/banding, but why would the same YouTube video with this underexposure look beautiful on a Mac but horrible on a PC? Separately I looked at some Hollywood trailers on YouTube and some of them had same issue. They tended to edit so it was only on screen for a half second so you don't notice. Problem is, I need to stay on some of these shots for a full 10 seconds. Any tips to make it look good on Windows machines?


  • Are the displays all calibrated? Sounds like the PC display might be poorly calibrated.

  • @matt_gh2

    Note that youtube actually have different encoded versions. And browser with flash and without one can get completely different looking videos.

  • No calibration was done on any of the screens, but somehow they all look great except that 1 Windows machine.

  • I export H.264 4K at CBR 120. I've seen variable results, but I want it to be reasonably future proof. Some ppl use 1 frame GOP, I just hit the button and don't look back.

  • Some ppl use 1 frame GOP

    This one is stupid.

  • I believe that CBR is the way to go for uploads, and leave to their encoder to figure it out how to allocate target, max bitrates and GOP length, since it will do it anyway no matter how you render it, just feed it with something reasonable to work with.

    Youtube used to re-encode and stream HD video at 4 Mbps max, don't know how is it now, but I don't believe they have raised that much. I've heard people upscale their video to 2K and upload it, because Youtube encodes 2K at higher bitrate, but really it needs to be put to test whether it really gives better results at all.

    If you have noise added, like film grain etc. this is where it gets messed up, since fine round grain become those typical h264 worms, and second encoding creates total mess and chaos with that, so sometimes I upload Prores directly to Vimeo, but I don't know if Youtube supports that.

  • Will be experimenting tonight with these suggestions and will report back. Thanks guys

  • YouTube does accept ProRes uploads as well as DNxHD but you should test to see what the results are like since the upload will take a lot longer for the bigger renders.

  • This seems fairly up to date: I find the '384 kbps' rather than 320 a bit odd since many encoders don't have a 384 preset option.

  • Thanks-will try those as well

  • 384 is just 256 plus 128. I wouldn't use these numbers from YouTube. Last year they had higher numbers, divided between their "standard" and "broadcast". I'm assuming by revising these numbers downward, they are just trying to lower their bandwidth.

  • Thanks guys - I tried a lot of suggestions. CBR at 120, CBR at 25, and even tried adding some grain. Nothing helped. Had a friend watch on a new Windows machine on Internet Explorer and it looked great. So not quite sure why my Windows machine doesn't like it. Must be what Vitaliy said about some browsers without flash, or some other particular detail I'm missing. But I'll just chalk it up to the limitations of Web video, and know that it will be fine on most machines, and will avoid underexposure when shooting in the future.

    Here's the 15 second clip - notice the bottom half of the screen - that's where the image breaks apart on my Windows machine...but all macs, phones, iPads, and other's Window's machines appears just fine. Let me know if you guys are seeing image break down...or holding up when watching full screen. Thanks!

  • Did you try gop1 ? Last resort: mjpeg :)
    My personal feeling is that the clip goes through some recodes if it does well, or "every now and then."
    But if there is a special setting, would be interesting to find it.

  • @DrDave I looked through full export media panel settings in Premiere for gop1 - couldn't find it - where do you see it? I'll try that and mjpeg. Thanks for all your help.

  • It sounds like it may not be the the encoding settings of the uploaded video that are the issue, but something to do with the playback side of things. YouTube re-encodes all videos uploaded in a bunch of different resolutions and codecs. Which all use different bitrates as well. So not all the systems that you watched the video on were necessarily getting the same encoding of the video from YouTube. Which encoding YouTube delivers can vary based on the browser, operating system, and device type.

    If you right click on the video when it is playing in YouTube and select Stats for Nerds, you can find out a bit more about what resolution and codec are being used for playback.

    If the video is being played back via HTML5, the Mime Type line should indicate the video codec, which will usually be either VP9 or avc1.xx... AVC indicates Advanced Video Codec (H.264) and the remaining numbers and letters indicate some more information about the H.264 profile used (baseline, main, high).

    In the case the Flash player is being used, the Stats for Nerds overlay will look different and should indicate the average bitrate of the video in kbps (in additional to the resolution). Flash doesn't support VP9, so video delivered via Flash would typically be H.264 encoded.

    But basically you'd be looking to see if there is any pattern in the playback settings that correspond to when it looks good an when it doesn't.

  • @davedv Thanks - great info. Will take a look tonight.

  • I would like to add that one my system Firefox usually plays back at a lower resolution that Chrome. I never really dug into it, I juts figured they were slightly favoring their own browser.

  • Yeah, I saw that too where some browsers seem capped at 720 and others are at 1080.