Time for a Render Bender!

Render settings vary from project to project, client to client, and enthusiast to professional in some cases. So, if a video’s final destination is YouTube, as it is for many, what are the recommended best settings when rendering a video?


This may seem like a bit of a trick question, as many editing and transcoding packages have optimized “YouTube” output presets already created, but let’s imagine we want to manually tweak our settings to make YouTube ultimately happy.


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First of all, make sure you’re working with a file type that YouTube gets along with. There are a bunch: MOV, MPEG4, MP4, AVI, WMV, MPEGPS, FLV, 3GPP or WebM. Of that list, YouTube prefers videos are contained in .mp4 files with no edit lists (your audio and video may go out of sync), and moov atom at the front of the file (the file is optimized for fast web start).

YouTube’s video codec of choice is H.264, for it’s high quality and low file size. Render files as progressive scan versus interlaced, high profile, 2 consecutive B frames, closed GOP (GOP of half the frame rate), CABAC, with variable bitrate, and chroma subsampling of 4:2:0. Some of these terms may seem a bit foreign, but YouTube presets will set most or all of them for you. For better descriptions of any term, mention it in the comments and we’ll define it.

YouTube doesn’t much care what frame rate videos are posted with, but it is recommended that video shot at 24, 30 or 60 frames per second be rendered and uploaded at the same frame rate. YouTube wisely recommends de-interlacing interlaced footage prior to uploading.


Similarly, YouTube is pretty flexible when it comes to resolutions. The YouTube player is 16:9, so for proper video display, 16:9 video is recommended. YouTube can add black bars to compensate for 4:3 footage, but 16:9 is best. 16:9 resolutions which YouTube will like are:


• 2160p: 3840×2160
• 1440p: 2560×1440
• 1080p: 1920×1080
• 720p: 1280×720
• 480p: 854×480
• 360p: 640×360
• 240p: 426×240

For audio, YouTube prefers audio as AAC-LC in either stereo or stereo + 5.1, with a sample rate of 96 khz or 48 khz.


Well, those are the basics. Again, ask for any term definition in the comments section. We’ll cover bitrates for YouTube in an upcoming post. Keep it locked on Videomaker.com for tips, tricks and product information!



Russ Fairley is a producer, editor and motion graphic designer. He also writes for Videomaker and several other publications.