As some of the people who know me are aware, I recently started a video podcast with my friend Luis Soares (by the way, you should follow him on twitter here) called Two Guys and a Beer. This meant that we would have to do some video editing in order for the thing to look acceptable (instead of raw footage). Furthermore, since this is a podcast on technology - with some emphasis on the web, we need to work with multiple layers and different sound tracks than the one from the camera, and so on.
But the editing itself is another (even more complicated) story. Today I wanna write about exporting your completed video. You just finished editing, you press export (in whichever tool you use, imovie, final cut, premiere, etc.) and now what? So many codecs, so many options. Damn, I wasn't expecting this. That was pretty much my initial reaction too :)
The options I will suggest are the ones I currently use (on a mac, using quicktime exporting options) to export half HD video, so I can easily upload it to vimeo.com.
I, like most other people that export stuff for the web, use the H264 video codec. Currently it's the one that gives you the best compression/quality ratio, and it's the one you should aim for. Plus, it's the most commonly supported one on video upload websites like vimeo, youtube, etc. Here's the kind of settings I usually go for:
I find that between medium and high quality is where I find my sweet spot in terms of compression/quality, but feel free to explore a couple of times to find what suits you. The frame rate is set to 25 (the human eye can't really process more than that, so it does not matter - you can even live with 24, if you like), and I'm setting one keyframe for each 30 frames. Again, trial and error brought me to these values but experiment :)
Now, about the size of the video, here are the options I use for Two Guys and a Beer:
The dimensions, in our case, are half HD. Adjust as necessary for your particular project. One thing that I read that you should always do is to deinterlace the source video, as it will get rid of any of those horizontal line fragments typical of HD recording. Another thing I do is uncheck the "Preserver aspect ration" option because I'm already using the dimensions I want in the final video. Beware that sometimes, if you leave it checked, it might happen that - even though you select the same size as the source video - the end result will be letterboxed and deformed, so leave the option unchecked! :)
In terms of sound options, go for the AAC codec. It's one of the most supported and best compressed formats out there. My settings are usually like this:
I find that 96 as the bit rate and normal quality works pretty well. If you would a better sounding movie use around 192 and best quality. That will give you better than CD quality, though it can be argued that you won't really tell the difference if, like in our case, it's just two people talking in the movie :)
Finally, here's the exporting screen just before starting the process. You can see the resume of all the options we selected:
Another thing to keep in mind, if you plan to upload this to vimeo, youtube, etc, is that you should check the "Prepare for Internet Streaming" option and set it to "Fast Start". This will allow those websites to perform optimizations that let people start watching your movie as soon as it starts loading (the so called "Streaming" way of playing videos), as opposed to having to wait for the full thing to download.
The settings that were presented usually translate to 10-14 MB of size per minute of video, depending on whether you optimized for faster encoding or better quality (codec options above).
I hope this helps making the life of all my colleague video podcasters a bit easier when it comes down to video exporting. Eventually I will try to create a post on video editing with multiple layers and effects.
Until then, peace.