In the last entry, we went over some of the different video file types. This week, we’ll discuss the big question: What can be posted on YouTube, Google Video and other video sharing sites?

You might be relieved to hear that most file types work for YouTube. When you upload a file, YouTube crunches and converts the video themselves, so the key is to keep your video quality as high as possible when uploading. You also want to ensure that the video is deinterlaced.

Here is a list of some well-known formats that YouTube supports:

  • WebM files – Vp8 video codec and Vorbis Audio codecs
  • .MPEG4, 3GPP and – Typically supporting h264, mpeg4 video codecs, and AAC audio codec
  • .AVI – Many cameras output this format – typically the video codec is MJPEG and audio is PCM
  • .MPEGPS – Typically supporting MPEG2 video codec and MP2 audio
  • .WMV
  • .FLV – Adobe-FLV1 video codec, MP3 audio

In order for your video to look the best it can, YouTube recommends using the original resolution of the video. For HD that’s 1920×1080 or 1280×720. For 16:9 standard definition, that could be 854×480, 640×360 or 426×240. For 4:3 standard definition, they recommend 640×480.

When uploading a video to YouTube, you should always use the original version of the video without letterboxing or pillarboxing bars. This will help maintain the original quality of the video, and the YouTube player will automatically add black bars, if necessary, so that videos display correctly.

Upload a 16:9 Video at its original aspect ratio (1280×720 recommended) YouTube: How to Do It Video fills the YouTube widescreen 16×9 player. Nice job!


Upload a 4:3 video at its original aspect ratio (640×480 recommended) Video is displayed in the widescreen player at the right size and ratio with the letterbox bars. Great!


If letterboxing is added to a video before it is uploaded (to create a 4:3 video from a 16:9 master for example), the widescreen player will add pillarbox bars, resulting in black bars all around the video (windowboxing) and a bad viewing experience (see the diagram below).

Add letterbox bars to the top and bottom before uploading so that the video fits a 4:3 player YouTube: How NOT To Do It The YouTube player adds pillarbox bars left and right to the 4:3 video fit widescreen. Bars surround it.


For more information, check out YouTube’s support site.

Google Video for Business and Education is a little different. Google accepts video in AVI, ASF, QuickTime, Windows Media and MPEG formats. However, it does not accept Flash .swf files, although Flash .flv files are accepted. The recommended video types are H.264, H.263, MPEG 1/2/4 and motion JPEG. Google Video also has a size limitation of 16GB per video.

One more popular video uploading site is Vimeo. For best results, Vimeo recommends using H.264 as the video codec. In terms of resolution, you should use 640×480 for 4:3 standard definition video, 640×360 for 16:9 standard definition video, and 1280×720 or 1920×1080 for HD video. Again, make sure your video is deinterlaced. For more on Vimeo, visit their FAQ site.


So, the upshot of all this is that most of the videos you’re looking to upload are just fine for YouTube, but when in doubt, check out this blog entry or the terms on the video sharing site.