Video Conversion
4 Questions to Answer Before Delivering Your Video Electronically

Eric Conley Milwaukee Video Editor HeadshotEric Conley |  Post Production/Video Editor

Your video has been approved.  Now what?  The next step used to be easy.  Make a few copies on VHS, maybe a few DVDs.  Jump ahead 10 years. VHS tapes are a distant memory. DVD players are dwindling. Internet streaming videos rule the land.

Now you need to know how you want your video compressed or encoded. Video encoding is the process of converting digital video files from one format to another.  Each format is different, but all have the same general idea: take a large file and shrink it down small enough to play in specific applications.

Here’s how video conversion works. Each encoding program throws away information, and what they do keep is crammed together.  If you start with a high quality video and compress it to a small format, it will look pretty good.  If you start with a small, low-quality video and compress it to the same size, it still throws away just as much information. The problem is that you didn’t have much to begin with so the quality degrades even more. .

As you think about the final video format, it’s helpful to consider these questions:

1. Where is the video going to be used?
The answer is critical because it helps define your options. Playing video on a large, multi-screen display at a tradeshow requires that you start with a very high quality image compared to playing video on a small window in a web browser. Common video destinations include:

  •           YouTube or online video platform
  •           PowerPoint for PC or Mac
  •           Web/Browser
  •           High definition or big screen

2. What size? (physical dimensions)
Here we’re talking about the actual physical dimensions of the video. This is usually a custom dimension that your production team can help you figure out. Some common recommendations are listed below.

  •           YouTube: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 854×480
  •           Power Point: 854×480, 640×360
  •           Small Web Players: 640×360

3. What bit rate?
Bit rate is basically the speed at which the data is received by the end user or viewer. As a general rule, the higher the bit rate, the better the quality.  But high bit rates requires greater internet speeds or streaming capacity to prevent pauses and buffering. So you need to strike a balance between high quality and smooth playback. Here are recommended bit rates:

  •           YouTube: 3-7 mbps
  •           Power Point: 2-3 mbps
  •           Small Web Players: 500 kbps-1500 kbps

4. Is there a file size target? (minimum & maximum)
Some file sharing applications and video platforms have limitations. So be sure to check recommended specifications before requesting your final compression.

  •           YouTube: < 2 GB max because it takes a long time to upload.
  •           PowerPoint: < 800 MB
  •           Web Player: < 100 MB

If you can answer these 4 questions, you’re well on your way to delivering your video to viewers with stable, reliable playback. Best of all, you won’t waste time (and money) requesting video compressions that don’t meet your needs or work the way you had hoped.  At Plum we’ve spent a lot of time tweaking the best compression settings. If you have any questions or need advice about how to make your video the best it can be, don’t hesitate to ask.

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