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I want to record video from games, therefore I cannot use very large video resolution, but I still want to make the large video view to look as sharp as the original encoded video before upload.

I tried to use YouTube's recommended 854x480 resolution, but it wasn't possible with h264 and the encoding software I used (Handbrake) converted it to a width of the nearest multiple of 4, which I think is a limitation of the h264 format.

The video I encoded was sharp and fine quality, but when I uploaded it to YouTube, it lost a lot of quality and the preferred large video view looks almost as bad as a 320p video. I tried to wait a few days but it never got sharper (in case it didn't process it completely yet).

So, which resolution and encoding options I should use, if I want the large video player to have the sharpest possible video, retaining the original video quality as good as possible?

I noticed that recording with 640x480, the video was sharper than with 1280x720, so I'm not sure what im doing wrong here; both were h264.

Is it anyhow possible to prevent YouTube from re-encoding the videos? I just wonder how people can make so sharp videos, while mine are all blurry after upload, but before upload they looked fine. I also tried YouTube's suggested bitrates with h264, but it didn't work any better.

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

According to YouTubeHelp articlesVideo encodingSuggested resolutions and bitrates the preferred resolutions are:

  • 1080p: 1920x1080
  • 720p: 1280x720
  • 480p: 854x480
  • 360p: 640x360
  • 240p: 426x240

Of these, 360p, 720p and 1080p have both dimensions as multiples of 4. The smallest one of them is 360p. If your encoder creates something slightly smaller than those, the player app is supposed to automatically add suitable letterboxing without this affecting the published file.

However, it is possible (I can't find any good, recent references) that Youtube re-encodes everything that is uploaded, in which case the quality will always be a bit worse on the published video than on your uploaded file. I would choose to encode the video exactly after the specs here to minimise the likelihood of meaningless transcoding. (Not exact bitrates, though.)

Edit:

Sorry, I don't have the experience to reasonably answer the revised question.

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I'm pretty certain that YouTube re-encodes everything you upload, even original content. Reminds me of doing an experiment to test that. –  slhck Mar 21 '12 at 15:15
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Okay, I just did a test. Uploaded a h.264 ~28 MBit/s reference file in 1080p25, downloaded it again and measured a quality drop resulting in a PSNR of around 18, which is pretty severe. Don't know if that applies to all sources though. –  slhck Mar 21 '12 at 15:49
    
@slhck, thats the problem, i dont know which format i should use, they say h264, but i use it and it makes all blurry... ive seen amazing video quality but i cant seem to replicate it because youtube fucks it up... –  Rookie Mar 21 '12 at 18:26
    
Eroen, please check the updated question. –  slhck Mar 22 '12 at 14:51
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I want to record video from games, therefore I cannot use very large video resolution, ...

Why are you so certain about this? I can record Full HD so I don't see why you couldn't.

Make sure you are using the right tool to do the job, I would recommend XSplit which can record to file.

I tried to use YouTube's recommended 854x640 resolution, ...

Why are you trying such low resolutions? That won't look sharp at 1920x1080 which is of double size.

but it wasn't possible with h264 and the encoding software I used (Handbrake) converted it to a width of the nearest multiple of 4, ...

YouTube lists 854x480 which is 16:9, I don't see where you got 854x640 from which is 4:3.

which I think is a limitation of the h264 format.

Formats don't limit the resolution and scaling you use. If I want 1000x10 with a 100:1 ratio for a big banner board somewhere along the road, I am able to use h264 for that.

The video I encoded was sharp and fine quality, but when I uploaded it to YouTube, it lost a lot of quality and the preferred large video view looks almost as bad as a 320p video. I tried to wait a few days but it never got sharper (in case it didn't process it completely yet).

How lower the resolution goes, how more noticeable the compression gets.

So, which resolution and encoding options I should use, if I want the large video player to have the sharpest possible video, retaining the original video quality as good as possible?

1920x1080, with the highest FPS and bit rate settings possible.

It's as simple as that: The higher resolution you go, the higher quality your video will look.

I noticed that recording with 640x480, the video was sharper than with 1280x720, so I'm not sure what im doing wrong here; both were h264.

While this sounds odd, I think it has to do with that the former is 4:3 while the latter is 16:9. Perhaps one of them gets scaled? In any case, this has something to do with the video files, not YouTube. Unless you are comparing them both on 360p, because then the lower resolution would undergo less compression.

Is it anyhow possible to prevent YouTube from re-encoding the videos?

Nope, that's the way the content model works. Fit every device...

I just wonder how people can make so sharp videos, while mine are all blurry after upload, but before upload they looked fine. I also tried YouTube's suggested bitrates with h264, but it didn't work any better.

It is the resolution that matters, by limiting yourself from the start, you are stepping on your own toes.

So, ditch the recorder you are using now and check out other ones (like XSplit above). If your computer doesn't support them, then you might benefit better equipment.

I haven't started casting or spent more time to up my live casting settings, but here is an example of 720 casting quality, note that this is limited by my network (or I'm just uncertain how high I could go) and not by my recording capabilities. So, if I were to save to a file and upload that file it would be of much higher quality, but I don't have the software installed at the moment to try...

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"Why are you trying such low resolutions?" - I dont need the higher resolutions, so why record with it when it takes more space, time, and power? I want to find the optimal video resolution that looks sharp on large video view and doesnt take an hour to upload a minute long video, and of course can be recorded without lag; some programs/games might use so much CPU that larger video resolution simply doesnt work that well. It isnt all about recording software. Your computer you may be able to record full HD video, but that doesnt necessarily apply for everyone. My screen isnt full HD either. –  Rookie Apr 4 '12 at 23:09
    
"YouTube lists 854x480 which is 16:9, I don't see where you got 854x640 from which is 4:3." - Typo, i meant 854x480 of course. I'll fix it to my question. - "Formats don't limit the resolution and scaling you use. If I want 1000x10 with a 100:1 ratio for a big banner board somewhere along the road, I am able to use h264 for that." - Handbrake really didnt allow me to create h264 video with that resolution (854). Also, 1000 is divisible by 4, so you can indeed use that. –  Rookie Apr 4 '12 at 23:14
    
@Rookie: Sorry, if you are working in limited conditions you can't expect your video to not be limited... –  Tom Wijsman Apr 4 '12 at 23:42
    
Youtube already streams 854x480 video, so why is it so hard to record in that resolution and upload to youtube, without losing quality a lot? That is the problem... 854x480 is enough for myself, but i cant encode it anyhow. What encoding does youtube use then? –  Rookie Apr 5 '12 at 13:07
    
@Rookie: Advanced details are here if you want to get the most quality from compression at lower resolutions. It looks like Handbrake is setting something much different and that a lot of quality is lost as a result when compressing it for their storage format... –  Tom Wijsman Apr 5 '12 at 13:10
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