The Best Video / Audio Export Settings for YouTube (Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2019)

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I was a super-fan of the service once-known-as Delicious but is now dead and gone and… well, mostly forgotten I suppose.

What an original and useful tool.

Anyways, my blog serves as my “social bookmarking” if you will and with my recent commitment to spend more time in video (and things like audio engineering) I’m going to probably have a few more technical posts related to those things in the future.

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Recommended Encoding Settings for YouTube Uploads

I searched around the web and found a bunch of answers to this but I wanted to capture them here on my blog for my own personal use (and with visual cues!).

This is mostly because I’m extremely forgetful and without a ton of practice I won’t remember the settings until I’ve built in new mental models and workflows.

Container (File Type): .mp4

The best file export type to use is the .mp4 with “No Edit Lists” and for the fastest starts one should have the moov atom at the front.

Audio Codec: AAC-LC

One should essentially choose the highest audio settings that you can push through Adobe Premiere since YouTube apparently transcodes anything and everything into the AAC-LC (or LC-AAC) on upload and the users have no real control over this.

YouTube, themselves, recommends Stereo Channel or Stereo + 5.1 and a Sample Rate of at least 48khz or 96khz.

???

One thing I couldn’t figure out was what the difference between these two options above, either AAC+ Version 1 and AAC+ Version 2. Again, the wisdom of the internet suggests that you just choose AAC and then max out “Audio Quality”, “Bitrate”, and everything else that you can in the settings. So… that’s what I do too.

Recommended bitrates for audio? Here you go:

TypeAudio Bitrate
Mono128 kbps
Stereo384 kbps
5.1512 kbps

Cool deal.

Video Codec: H.264

A few things that YouTube recommends:

  • Progressive scan (no interlacing)
  • High Profile
  • 2 consecutive B frames
  • Closed GOP (GOP of half the frame rate)
  • CABAC
  • Variable bitrate – No bitrate limit required, though they have some guidelines (see below)
  • Chroma subsampling: 4:2:0

To be completely honest, I don’t know what half of those things are, but, my plan is to learn what they are this year. 👍🏻

Recommended Video Bitrates for SDR Uploads

To view new 4K uploads in 4K, use a browser or device that supports VP9.

TypeVideo Bitrate, Standard Frame Rate
(24, 25, 30)
Video Bitrate, High Frame Rate
(48, 50, 60)
2160p (4k)35-45 Mbps53-68 Mbps
1440p (2k)16 Mbps24 Mbps
1080p8 Mbps12 Mbps
720p5 Mbps7.5 Mbps
480p2.5 Mbps4 Mbps
360p1 Mbps1.5 Mbps

Recommended Video Bitrates for HDR Uploads

TypeVideo Bitrate, Standard Frame Rate
(24, 25, 30)
Video Bitrate, High Frame Rate
(48, 50, 60)
2160p (4k)44-56 Mbps66-85 Mbps
1440p (2k)20 Mbps30 Mbps
1080p10 Mbps15 Mbps
720p6.5 Mbps9.5 Mbps
480pNot supportedNot supported
360pNot supportedNot supported

I’ve been trying to upload in 4k for most of my videos these days (based on my current vlogging setup with my GoPro HERO7 Black) and it’s been working, for the most part.

Now, I’ve seen a few professionals recommend that you do VBR, 2 pass instead of just VBR,1 pass and also “Render at Maximum Depth” but after a few tests I can tell you that the results, at least from the types of videos that I’m creating, have zero difference but the render time increases about 10X.

So, unless you know what you’re really doing on those settings, I’d probably settle with keeping it simple.

Frame Rate

Finally, your YouTube upload frame rate should be encoded in the same frame rate that it was recorded. The more common frame rates are: 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, and 60 frames per second (although you’re not necessarily limited to just these options).

Interlaced content should be deinterlaced before uploading. For example, 1080i60 content should be deinterlaced to 1080p30 going from 60 interlaced fields per second to 30 progressive frames per second.

Again, I have really no clue as to what that last paragraph means, but, I’ll be learning that this year too.

Do not forget this!

Finally, make sure to never forget to choose Entire Sequence before you hit the “Export” button… because if you do, you may end up wasting time just exporting certain parts of the video.

I’ve done this before and it drives me insane.


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