Final Cut Pro to YouTube

Learn how to get the best YouTube videos from Final Cut Pro
Richard Harrington
By Richard Harrington 05.20.08


What people tend to forget is that you are sending YouTube a master for them to compress; therefore, send the highest quality you can, that fits within their limitations. is well know for being the busiest video-sharing site, but unfortunately, YouTube uses the much older Sorenson Spark codec for their video encoding. This was the "improved" video format for Flash 7 but is based on the very old H.263 video conferencing codec. Even when new, this was an old, inefficient codec.

Many people send YouTube an already compressed video, and are disappointed when they see the quality that results on YouTube. That's because most of the information was first thrown away by the encode before upload, so there was little quality left to be encoded to Flash 7.

The goal is to give YouTube a master that they can use for encoding:
• YouTube has two limitations: no more than 10 minutes per video and no larger than 100 MB per video.
• YouTube converts everything that is uploaded to Flash 7 video at 320X240 (although they've started to also do 640X480 in H.264).
• Remember the good old days of VHS distribution? You wouldn't give the duplicator a VHS copy of the show to duplicate. No, you'd give them the highest quality master you could. Therefore, to get the best quality from YouTube, give them a high quality "master" that is close to 99 MB.

Here's how to pull this off:
1 Use QuickTime Pro or Final Cut Pro to exports to .mp4 with H.264 video.
2 Export as MPEG-4 with H.264 and set the size to 320X240. There is no point providing more resolution than YouTube's finished size. By going direct to that size means that you can devote bandwidth to making that master look great, instead of sending excess size that will be scaled down. The bonus is that you get to control de-interlacing and scaling.
3 From here on there are two choices: calculate the maximum data rate that will keep the file under 99 MB, or use some general purpose settings.

Thanks to Phil Hodgetts for this guest tip.


Like this tip? It comes from the book
Final Cut Studio On the Spot from Focal Press.