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Tutorial: Best Export Settings for Drone Footage for YouTube, Vimeo and Instagram

I’ve put together another tutorial enabling you to learn the best export settings to obtain high quality export settings for YouTube, Vimeo and Instagram.

This follows on from my previous video, Colour Grading Drone Footage Like a Pro.

Editors Note : Will, the man behind ‘ManAndDrone‘ has created some great guides for flying and filming with drones. We feel they have some invaluable lessons on how to get the most out of your kit. He has kindly let us reproduce versions of them on our blog, this is part three of a series.

Understanding Bitrate

Bit rate is the amount of data in Gbps, Mbps and Kbps used to encode your video and audio. Depending on which Drone you have and which video mode you shoot in your bitrate is going to vary. The Higher your bitrate, the larger your video will be and the longer it will take to encode, but the quality will be better. Our video quality will degrade with low bitrates as there is less information there for our computers to decode. The key for great YouTube Vimeo and Instagram videos is to know roughly what their export guidelines are and balance our encoding with what our drones are capable of.

Below is a chart which tells us roughly what data rates the DJI Drones produce when recording in certain video modes. We never want to export higher than the bitrate we are shooting in unless your drone footage is mixed with better cameras. The X5R Camera for the DJI Inspire drone records in a lossless RAW so this bypasses any compression at the first level, making it a good feature for professionals.

Data rate information for filming

To understand the finer points of Bitrate in more depth, check out the VideoMaker Website.

Best Export Settings For YouTube

Here are the export settings I use for high quality on Youtube :

  • Video Size : 3840 x 2160
  • Aspect : Square pixels (1.0)
  • Frame Rate : 
29.97fps / 30fps NTSC Progressive
  • Profile: High, Level 5.1
  • VBR 2 Pass
  • Bitrate Target 60 Mbps, Maximum 60 Mbps
  • Render at Maximum Depth Box Ticked, Use Maximum Render Quality Box Ticked
  • 
Audio Format : AAC
  • Sample Rate : 48,000 Hz
  • Channels : Stereo
  • Bitrate : 320 Kbps

If I was uploading a FHD version (1920 x 1080) @ 30fps I would leave all settings exactly the same and just change the Target Bitrate to either 20 or 25 Mbps, and have the Maximum Bitrate at 25 Mbps.

If file size becomes an issue halve these rates again to a target bitrate of 10Mbps and a Maximum of 12Mbps like I have done for these tutorials. The overall quality will suffer as a result but the file-size will be much smaller.

Best Video Export Settings For Vimeo

Vimeo Encoding Export Settings guidelines

I would look to keep these values the same as my YouTube version as their guidelines are similar and my results seem okay thus far.

Best Video Export Settings For Instagram

Instagram Video Encoding Export Settings Screenshot

Instagram doesn’t provide us with any information on what export settings work best but I’ve found the following to work very well for my instagram feed :

  • Video Size : 1080 x 1080
  • Aspect : Square pixels (1.0)
  • Frame Rate : 29.97fps / 30fps NTSC Progressive
  • 
Profile: High, Level 5.1
  • 
VBR 2 Pass
  • Bitrate Target 5 Mbps, Maximum 7 Mbps
  • 
Render at Maximum Depth Box Ticked, Use Maximum Render Quality Box Ticked
  • Audio Format : AAC
  • Sample Rate : 48,000 Hz
  • Channels : Mono
  • Bitrate : 128 Kbps

Summary

Currently H.264 .Mp4 is one of the best methods for export. For best results always export at your drone’s recording bitrate (refer to the bitrate chart). Render at Maximum Depth & Quality, High Profile 5.1, VBR 2-Pass. If file-size becomes an issue lower the export bitrate but keep all other settings the same, decreasing the bitrate will effect the overall quality.

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