Making your GoPro Video Look Great on YouTube

Have you ever gone out and shot your awesome GoPro Hero3 video at 60 frames per second 1080p, offloaded it to your computer, viewed it in all it’s glory . . . then uploaded it to YouTube and it looked like crap? I have, and it’s certainly frustrating. What causes all the blockyness and blurriness?

You may have noticed that sometimes it’s not a problem, sometimes it’s a huge problem. You may find yourself scratching your head and wondering why one vid looks just great and another is a mushy mess.

Here are a few things that may be causing the problem – and some quick-fix solutions:

  1. Your video may be moving through highly complex subject matter at a high speed, and YouTube’s compression can’t convert the detail. The scenario is that you are skating, driving, skiiing etc. through a forest with lots of limbs and leaves, an environment with lots of rocks, varying color and texture, etc. The scenery is constantly changing, and everything blurs together in a blocky mess. Youtube usually re-compresses the video you send it at a ratio of at least 8:1 – so the stunning 200 meg video you upload at 30 frames per second (currently the YouTube highest standard) will render out to YouTube at about 30-40 megs. You lose a BUNCH of detail since YT is trying to deliver the 30fps in compressed frames that can be easily downloaded via internet. Solution: Try uploading at an even lower frame rate. 30 fps is the YouTube standard, but they will accept 15 fps, 12 fps, and 10 fps – maybe lower – I’ll have to check. Most people will still enjoy the video even at these lower frame rates. It will definitely be sharper and easier to watch since the data allotted to each frame will be much higher.
  2. You may be allowing your software to over-compress the original video you are uploading to YouTube. Many video editing packages will take your 30 meg per second videos and crunch them down to 6 or 7 megs per second before they even upload. Any artifacts (however minute) will then be magnified during the YouTube re-compress process. Solution: Take time to learn how to use the advanced rendering and output functions of your video editing software. I use the YouTube recommendations to create templates for upload to ensure that what I give YouTube is quality from the get go.
  3. You may want to re-think the way you shoot your video. Think about moving more slowly through complex environments, or shooting your high-speed action footage in environments with lots of snow, ┬ásand, sky, barren landscapes, etc. that will require less from YouTube in frame-to-frame transitional data. ┬áSometimes the action shots should/could use a camera that remains largely motionless, while you or the subject matter is doing the moving. If the background isn’t constantly changing – just the subject matter moving through the background – then artifacts will be greatly reduced.

I’ll be posting video examples that illustrate how improvements can be made. Stay tuned. TLG

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