Our Favorite Video Tools

We've tried them all. Here are my favorites.

If you’ve shot a good video and it’s not uploading right, or it looks funny, or sounds weird, you could have a problem with your editing program, or even your phone.

And that’s a big problem if you happen to be in business.

Here’s how to solve it.

This is a follow-up to our first video on this subject, released in 2011. This training is updated and revised, based on a new free tool that anyone can use to make their videos look super-nice on YouTube, or anywhere else!

Start the new year right, with videos that look and sound as good as the content inside them!

    47 replies to "How to Make Your Video Upload Crystal Clear – Revised and Updated"

    • Jeff Harrison

      Thanks Steven,
      Great tutorial as always. I have tweeted my HB ever so slightly to match your recommendation…thanks and Happy New Year

      • Steven Washer

        And you as well! I recommend the Twilight Zone Marathon for those in the US.
        To be preferred over driving around at midnight…:)

    • Robert Arnot

      Hi Steve

      Thanks for the end of the year great information. It’s like icing on the cake for all you have created this year. Looks like I can use HandBrake and not have to buy Compressor. I’m just learning Final Cut Pro X and while the web optimized settings look good, it doesn’t seem to show me much data.

      I wish there was something for the overcrowding in my garage that could shrink the amount of boxes like HandBrake does for video file size.

      Also, I clicked on your Author’s Google+ for the first time and got a glimpse of what is possible within the Google Empire. Really nice, neat, organized, and informative Steve. wow… Thank you very much for the role modeling and inspiration.

      Happy New Year and Great Prosperity to You.

      • Steve

        Hi Robert,

        Glad you enjoyed it. The website has been down almost all day due to an outage somewhere in the west, so you have the distinction of being the first person to be able to access it in many hours…

        Happy New Year! My intention for you is that you make 2014 a huge success in your markets!

        • Shama

          That “somewhere in the west” apparently was – again – EIG’s data center in Provo, Utah, which knocked out most of their hosting companies, like mine (hostgator) and yours (Bluehost) for quite a few hours. This is happening on a more frequent basis now. The writing is on the wall…time to look for a host that is not owned by EIG.

          • Steven Washer

            You are correct. I upgraded my hosting so that I’m no longer on a shared server, but alas, that did not make our site immune to this latest blackout.

    • Andrew Smith

      Thanks Steve for a very interesting and valuable tutorial. Your knowledge is impressive. By the way I like the white background, makes you look great.

      • Steve

        Thanks, Andrew! Interesting that you commented on the white background. It’s actually Greenscreen. Normally I don’t recommend that anyone try this, but with very careful lighting I found I could make it look “proper” in editing, which significantly reduces the workload in production.

    • Shama

      So far I have always used the “Constant Quality” setting on handbrake’s video tab since that eliminates the need for 2-pass encoding. You mentioned that you use the AVG bitrate setting. Could you tell me if that is an advantage over the Constant Quality setting, and why?

      • Steven Washer

        I like knowing the specs I’m inputting. If you don’t care about knowing that, then it’s fine to use the constant quality tab if you like the results.

    • John Z Wetmore

      I had been using Quicktime Pro for compression since 2005. Recently, in conjunction with a switch to shooting in HD, I switched to editing with Premiere Pro CS6 and all the software that comes with it, including compression software. It includes dozens of presets, including 1080p optimized for YouTube. Here is what it looks like in a short video I shot just before Christmas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9a8H5PpEK0E
      There are a lot of good tools out there. Just get to know whatever software you have so you can get the most out of it.

      • Steve

        Actually, John, one of the main reasons I made the change was that QT Pro was taking so long to render. It really should not take 2 hours to render a 5 minute video. Handbrake does it in minutes.

        I second your recommendation to get to know your tools in order to get the most out of them!

        • Bob Crawford

          Steve, I use Ulead Video Studio to edit and add lower thirds to our videos, which takes hours to render. Would I then have to put it through Hand Brake as well?

          • Steven Washer

            Yes, as the lower third is just on the editor’s timeline. You still have to render the whole video out for the web.

    • Sheryl Kurland

      Thanks for divulging so many “secrets” in your videos throughout 2013. I look forward to hearing more in 2014. Cheers to you for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

      • Steve

        Thank you for your fun contributions all year, Sheryl.
        I especially loved your poetry slams!

        Best to you in 2014!

    • Tom Taylor

      Steven: I just used this for a video I loaded to the website above. It’s amazing that we can “compress” the file size without losing quality! Thanks for the help, Man!

      • Steve

        De nada. And thanks for letting me know this worked for you, Tom.

    • Joshua Popenoe

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the video, and thanks again for sharing my Japanese Food video.

      I used Handbrake to process a 35MB .mov video that someone else shot a long time ago, following your directions exactly, and guess what? It came out as a 75MB .mp4. I didn’t necessarily need it to be smaller, but I was surprised to see it get bigger. Any idea why that happened? It makes the website loading slower.

      Thanks, Josh

    • Steven Washer

      You should never use those YouTube settings for a self-hosted video.
      For a 640 x 360 video, use 500 kbps and you’ll be fine.

      • Joshua Popenoe

        Oh, those settings were just for You Tube? Yes, that’s what you said right at the beginning. Duh… Ok, I’ll try again at 500kpbs, and leave everything else the same. Thanks!

    • Stephen Byrne

      Thanks so much, Steve: that’s wonderfully useful to know.

    • David Sellers

      Nice video…helpful instructions. Thank you.
      I have one problem…I wish maybe you knew an answer. I have to edit my videos/frames in TMPGEnc 4…Not sure the best output from it for use with HandBrake. Or possible to get same encoding with TMPGEnc as HB???
      Please help and advise.
      Thank you much.

      • Steve

        Well, the final output should really be an MPG4 file. So output from your editing program as AVI or mov into Handbrake, and go from there. That should do it for you.

        • David Sellers

          Yes…Excellent. I will try the Mov format. Uncompressed AVI is HUGE.
          Thank you Sir.

          • David Sellers

            Hello again Steve,
            The Mov format to HB to MP4 exported great . 🙂 But, YouTube destroyed it and it looks worse then my previous methods. I am certain you are indeed correct and intelligent at this. Perhaps YouTube is re-coding ugly…obviously. 🙁
            I will keep trying.
            Thank you again.

            • David Sellers

              I got it! 😀
              Thank you!
              Your tutorial is superb. You also do a excellent job at presentation and comedy.
              Great job Steve!

            • Steve

              Thanks, David! Glad it worked out for you. And now it’s repeatable.

    • David Sellers

      Hello Steve,
      Managed to get 780p on YouTube. Thank you. 🙂
      Have searched “Googled” for 1080p on YouTube…found many different articles, but I do not want tooo many softwares involved as they (most) re-encode. Usually not good. Sooo…may I ask if HB has an option to set so that my result will be 1080p? The “Large File Size” check???
      Please help and advise.
      Thank you tremendously. Again! 🙂

      • David Sellers

        oops…I meant 720p to 1080p.

    • David Sellers

      Hi Steve,
      Don’t mean to clog up your blog here. Just thought I might add “in a nutshell” what I am working with.
      FRAPS recording of gameplay. File result…uncompressed AVI, up to 3.9Gb. File goes into TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress and I edit individual frames…export that, to MOV, output file from TMPGEnc actually larger than original AVI, then with HandBrake (per your genius) to MP4…now down to around 50Mb. 🙂
      Also…forgot to add…somewhere in there I splice files together with Easy Video Joiner(No encoding).
      My video finally went up on YouTube looking GREAT at 720p HD. Wish I could get up to 1080p…There may not be that big a difference with gameplay videos to matter. Just a thought.
      Again…Great advice, Great Tutorial.

      • Steve

        If the file comes into HB at 1080, don’t do anything except the normal recipe. If it doesn’t come in at 1080, then you can’t make it larger. The Large file size check mark is not for this instance. If it’s working well at 720, then you’ve done a good thing, so I would say you’re done for now. You can change the size and make it smaller in the size changing area at the top right, but there’s no need to do that for YouTube. Plus that area is tres complicated. I’ll do a new tutorial for that another time…

      • David Sellers

        I see now that (I believe?) my original video must be 1920×1080 to obtain 1080p HD.
        Oh well… Looks great (MUCH better then before I read your tut’) at 720p HD. 😀

        • David Sellers

          Actually, had I paid attention to you in the video…you answered my question before hand.
          Just got excited that the video went up to YouTube like a charm.
          Thank you Steve.

          • Steve

            De nada! 🙂

    • David Sellers

      Hello Steve,
      All is / was going perfect. Realize now that my video joining program will not join MP4 files. Have tried MANY others and NONE work. Will HandBrake join files during the conversion? Do you know of a program that actually works? Promise not to bother anymore…since this is unrelated to HD on YT.
      Thank you.

      • Steve

        A video joining program? You mean an editor? Like Premiere, Final Cut Pro…Any editor will put 2 videos together, and then you’ll have one bigger longer video. There is no such thing as a video joiner program, really. The best would be, well, a playlist!

    • Deb

      Hi Steve;
      Thanks for the video. I’ve been researching everything to make my videos look as good on YouTube and Vimeo as they do when I export them as .mov files from Screenflow. I’ve tried every setting imagineable but nothing seems to work. YouTube destroys the videos consistently. They look great on Amazon S3, pretty good on Vimeo and like crap on YouTube. I followed your Handbrake settings to a “T” and the video still looks like crap on YouTube. Here’s what I mean https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4Y8KKPKspM&feature=youtu.be. I’m at my wits end. I film on a Canon Vixia HD HFR40. I edit in Screenflow and the exported .mov files are beautiful and crystal clear. But nothing seems to work when I upload them to YouTube. Any suggestions?

      By the way, your video is beautiful and you have a wonderful delivery. 🙂

      • Steve

        Well, besides the fact that you’re way too judgmental about your own video (but who isn’t, right?) your camera is focused on the background instead of you. So this video will never be quite as crisp as you like.

        However, when you change the resolution to 720p in the little YouTube gear thingie at the lower right of the player, it looks completely acceptable.

        My suggestion is that if you are going to be shooting outdoors with the background far behind you, try to avoid using autofocus. The camera will drift in and out of focus throughout the entire video.

        Hope that helps!

        I like the passion and power in your delivery!

    • Deb

      Thank you Steve! I didn’t know about the little YouTube gear thingie and that certainly makes it look better. I’ve also uploaded it to Vimeo and it looks better there. I’ve been experimenting with Amazon S3/Cloudfront and the video looks amazing, but the download/streaming is way too slow. I can’t seem to figure it out because the solutions seem to be written for phD’s in programming mumbo jumbo.

      Thank you so much for the tip about shooting outdoors with auto focus. Obviously there’s alot to learn to really get it right.

      I watched your video about YouTube being the dinosaur of the bunch and loved it! I may just stick with Vimeo for now (unless I can figure out the Amazon mumbo jumbo) because you made some really great points.

      Glad the passion and power came across…I can’t help myself when I talk about that stuff. 🙂

      • Deb

        One more quick question Steve – can you tell me if there’s a way for the YouTube video to default at 720p so that it doesn’t look like the mush I’ve been seeing? I had no idea that the fix was so easy. After weeks of research and various fixes, you made it so simple. Thank you again.

    • Deb

      Hi again Steve – the gear thingie with YouTube…honestly, I’ve researched and researched for weeks and not one person mentioned that simple little fix. Is there a way to make this the default resolution so that they don’t see the mush that I’ve been seeing?

      • Steve

        Glad my ultra-technical tip helped 🙂

        That resolution box is really based on the assumed bandwidth of the user’s browser, so alas, there is no way I know of to make it default to 720p unless you are embedding it on your blog. Then you can include HD in the embed code.

    • Sarah Denholm

      HI Steve,

      I was very excited to watch this video: and still am, as I think handbrake will be great. However, I’ve tried it with 2 short movies (one of 1 minute, one of 5) which I edited from my camera in iMovie, then exported to the desktop. Only the first 1 or 2 seconds plays. Then it stops. That’s it. And it’s both movies. I tried playing one for the full 15 seconds in preview and it works fine, so I know the movie is in handbrake. It’s just not doing the whole thing.

      Any thoughts? Thank you in advance 🙂

      • Steven Washer

        I don’t know where the breakdown is happening. You didn’t mention whether the movie played before you brought it into Handbrake. Was it the export out of iMovie that broke it or was it the conversion in Handbrake? Let me know what iMovie exported it as and the settings you used in Handbrake and maybe we can figure it out.

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