Ever wonder why your videos looks good on your computer but turns into crap when you upload them on YouTube. Most of us overlook the technical aspect of Video Production such as Codecs, Frame rates etc. There are certain guidelines to optimize videos for YouTube and create YouTube Compatible video files that not only upload successfully but also looks beautiful. The main goal is to keep the quality as high as possible while keeping the file size as small as we can.

Before getting into the tutorial part, lets take a look at few things you probably need to know about YouTube Compatible Video Format.

YouTube Compression Guidelines


A codec is the format in which your video will be encoded. YouTube accepts most major video codecs, but for best results I recommend using H.264, commonly known as MP4.

For High Quality audio, I recommend using AAC-LC (low complexity) for the audio codec.


YouTube recommends uploading with frame rates of 24 (or 23.976), 25, and 30 (or 29.97). If you know the frame rate of your footage, it’s best to encode your final video at the same frame rate. However, if your footage exceeds 30 FPS (frames per second), you should encode your video at half that frame rate. For example, if you shot at 60 FPS, you should encode your final video at 30 FPS. If you’re uncertain what frame rate you shot at, set your frame rate to either “Current” or 30 FPS.


Bitrate also known as data rate controls the visual quality of the video and its file size. The rate is most often measured in kilobits per seconds (kbit/s).

Bit Rates for the most common resolutions are given below.

Quality Bit Rate (kbit/s)
SD – Standard Definition 2,000 – 5,000
720p – HD 5,000 – 10,000
1080p – FULL HD 10,000 – 20,000

Encode your audio at constant rate of 256 kbit/s or 320 kbit/s.


For best results, set your audio sample rate to 48 kHz. If your working setting is already less than or equal to 48 kHz, leave it as it is.

Converting Videos with MPEG Streamclip

MPEG Streamclip is a free software that can be used to encode videos into YouTube compatible h.264 format and is available for MAC as well as Windows. If you are a Windows user, I recommend downloading the BETA VERSION instead of the final one since it offers some fixed compatibility with YouTube.

Download MPEG Streamclip

Converting Videos with Adobe After Effects

You can also use After Effects to convert a video into h.264 format.

  1. Create a composition and import you video.
  2. Add the composition to the render queue by going into COMPOSITION > ADD TO RENDER QUEUE.
    You can also use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + /.
  3. Open up output module settings and change the format setting to H.264.
    YouTube Compatible Video Format
  4. Now, click on Format Options button. This will open up H.264 settings panel, change Target Bitrate and Maximum Bitrate depending on the screen resolution of your video. Bitrates for most common resolutions are given in the table below.
Quality Bit Rate (Mbps)
SD – Standard Definition 2 – 5
720p – HD 5 – 10
1080p – FULL HD 10 – 20

YouTube Compatible Video FormatClick OK to save H.264 settings.

  • If your video contains audio, you can enable it by clicking on AUDIO OUTPUT check box. After that, click on Format Options button and change Audio Bitrate Settings to 320 kbps for high quality audio.
    YouTube Compatible Video FormatClick OK to save Audio Settings.
  • Render out your video, the converted file is now ready for uploading on YouTube or any other video sharing website.

For any technical issues or feedback, feel free to post in the comment section below.


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