Don't Wanna Be a YouTube Idiot
June 26, 2011 8:27 AM   Subscribe

How do these YouTubers do it? Please help me upload videos that won't take forever.

I tried to upload a video (9 minutes, 1.0 GB) taken with my Cannon Powershot camera to YouTube last night. It was going to take several hours -- like 10 - 12 to upload. I started the upload around 7pm. I went to bed that evening around midnight with about 5 hours of upload time still remaining. I woke up this morning and the upload was not successful because of an unknown error. I did not use iMovie to edit or any other editing software. I uploaded it unedited or unaltered.

I have a Mac mini with extra memory installed. I know my husband has had to take some stuff off of the Mac mini because more memory was needed. Also, lately, we have been losing our internet connection. I'm pretty sure our internet speed is pretty fast when we don't sporadically lose connection. We have DSL. A few years ago I edited a movie in iMovie and uploaded to YouTube. I don't remember it taking too long but it was only a minute or so in length.

If I wanted to upload videos to YouTube regularly what would be my best bets for computer, camera, and software? I am interested in getting a Macbook because I want the iMovie software. The mini is mainly used by my husband. I use an older Toshiba laptop for web browsing. I want a computer all to my own to do my YouTube thing.

What should I buy if my main focus is to upload a couple of videos to YouTube weekly? And is there a way I won't have to wait more than half a day to upload? I know the size and quality can affect upload time but there has to be a better way. Last night the uploading was slowing everything down and the family was having a fit because their video games/connection were slowed. I want to upload high def videos but I don't want it to take a day.

Thanks so much for any advice on YouTube, equipment, etc.
posted by Fairchild to Computers & Internet (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Assuming you've encoded/compressed the video adequately, the thing that matters the most is the upload speed of your Internet connection. In other words, get fast broadband. If this is not possible, chop up your videos in parts or compress them more. Your computer hardware has probably nothing to do with this.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:35 AM on June 26, 2011

How fast upload speed should you get? Atleast 1mbit, which means that your 1GB video would take ca 2.5 hours to upload. If you want to upload a 1GB file under one hour you would atleast need 3 mbit in upload speed.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:45 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

According to the speed test linked above, my download speed is 2.86 Mbps. Upload speed is 0.32 Mbps. I tested on the Toshiba and not the Mac. I don't think it makes a difference.

I don't know if I have encoded or compressed the video. I downloaded to iPhoto and attempted to upload to YouTube.
posted by Fairchild at 8:59 AM on June 26, 2011

That's not very fast internet. You might look into cable Internet or FIOS (if it's available). Both will be much, much faster.
posted by The Lamplighter at 9:08 AM on June 26, 2011

Yes, we are thinking of dumping our DSL and getting cable internet. Is my speed terrible? I don't know.
posted by Fairchild at 9:20 AM on June 26, 2011

Yeah, it's going to take forever with that kind of connection. To give you an idea, I have fairly run of the mill cable internet, and my speeds are about 10 times as fast as what you listed there.

Also, the video straight out of the camera is likely higher quality than you really need for YouTube, depending on what you're doing. You could probably make the file quite a bit smaller. Of course, making the file smaller also takes time, so it's a tradeoff. And I don't think you'd be able to make it small enough to upload in a reasonable amount of time with a connection that slow.
posted by sharding at 9:21 AM on June 26, 2011

Thanks so much to all of the replies. That is my problem then, slow internet. I just tried the speed test on the Mac and it's even slower. Dismally slow. We need to upgrade to cable internet. Thanks so much.
posted by Fairchild at 9:25 AM on June 26, 2011

The problem is the size of the file. It's great that your camera can produce HD video, but the cost of that is massive files. I wouldn't have uploaded a 1gb file to youtube when I was living in Korea with ultrafast broadband and your connection is nowhere near that.

Luckily, you can downgrade the quality of your video a lot without 99% of viewers caring and end up with a much smaller file. Grab Handbrake (sorry, no link, I'm on a mobile device) and it will do the job. It will take some time on a mini, but less than the upload and no one else will be affected in your house.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 9:27 AM on June 26, 2011

Thank you, Busy Old Fool. Yes, I know my file is huge. I'll try Handbrake.
posted by Fairchild at 9:29 AM on June 26, 2011

Do you want to do anything else with this video other than stick it on YouTube? Most cameras have a quality setting that would allow you to create a much smaller file in the first place.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 9:37 AM on June 26, 2011

Yeah, basically I want to stick it on YouTube. Great idea about the setting. My camera might have an option to downgrade quality. I'll look it up. I am a complete dumb-dumb when it comes to technology.
posted by Fairchild at 9:50 AM on June 26, 2011

It is much better practice to capture at the best quality you can. Do you want to explain to your kids that videos of their first years are all pixellated because some web service "didn't need it"?

Most online video services create the various streaming formats from the original file you upload, so uploading a high quality master is futureproofing.

Faster internet is the best solution. Re-encoding is a solution, but definitely not the best one.
posted by fake at 9:55 AM on June 26, 2011

I tried to upload a video (9 minutes, 1.0 GB)

Yeah, there's your problem right there. ONE GIG? Are you crazy? That's like twelve hours of properly-compressed video. Get a copy of Auto Gordion Knot and compress the ever-loving shit out of that raw video. 9 minutes of video shouldn't be more than 100MB.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:59 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you don't feel very comfortable with the technnology (understandable!) then that is another reason to always capture at the highest quality. You may find, at some point, that you need better quality. You can always reduce the quality of something, but you cannot increase it.

Set your cam to the best it can do, so that if you end up in some situation (a special moment, travelling, an emergency) you're not fumbling with the controls or feeling bad that you based your decisions on some specific service.
posted by fake at 10:05 AM on June 26, 2011

Yeah. I do want best quality but I don't know if it's practical. I know people complain about cruddy video quality on YouTube and I don't want to be one of those people that have grainy picture quality. It's just a little hobby, it's not a big deal but it kind of is because I'm going to have video of my face, and other people's faces, and outdoors and I don't want it to be poor quality. Maybe it will be more practical to have higher quality when we get better internet.

Civil-Disobedient, I laughed at your comment. I am crazy because I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I just compressed it to 60MB on Windows Movie Maker. We'll see how that goes. Thanks so much for all of the help.
posted by Fairchild at 10:08 AM on June 26, 2011

FWIW, I have a Canon Powershot also and occasionally take videos (with permission) at concerts, up close. I use the highest quality setting so the video AND audio will be the best possible. Recently I uploaded a 9 min 34 sec video to YouTube that was right at 1GB and it took about 3-4 hrs as I recall, using cable modem. Honestly, I was surprised that something didn't go wrong while I was away and it was uploading, but it worked just fine to my relief and I am very pleased with the results.
posted by ourroute at 12:41 PM on June 26, 2011

Your connection is 3Mbit down/384kbit up, which is a fairly standard split. Apparently it's on the low end of cable modem speeds, but YMMV (and budget) will vary depending on local providers.
posted by rhizome at 12:43 PM on June 26, 2011

I used to wonder the same thing about publishing raw video files on YouTube, and I too have been using Canon Powershots to record videos. Then I realized I needed to compress my videos before uploading them if I didn't want to wait around all day. The sacrifice in video quality is barely noticeable after you compress the file. The other thing is if the file you're uploading is too big, like 1 GB, YouTube/Vimeo will compress the file itself, which will take forever, and which will ultimately make the video look like crap.

Download MPEG Streamclip for Mac/Windows and compress the videos yourself. Here are the export settings I use if you're curious. The example in the image is a 1 GB video that I shrunk down to about 120 MB, and I was very pleased with the quality.

Note that I used H.264 compression; H.264 is one of the best video conversion rates for Internet video - it's a very high quality compressor, small files look great, and the images are very well preserved. Other minor adjustments I make are small increases to the contrast and saturation, because you can lose a little bit (just a tiny bit) of color while compressing videos.
posted by matticulate at 12:45 PM on June 26, 2011

Get a copy of Auto Gordion Knot and compress the ever-loving shit out of that raw video. 9 minutes of video shouldn't be more than 100MB.

YouTube is going to recompress it on their end, though, so you're looking at a choice between spending time or spending video quality.
posted by rhizome at 12:45 PM on June 26, 2011

Thank you. This is very helpful. matticulate, I am checking MPEG Streamclip out now. Thanks so much to everyone.
posted by Fairchild at 1:05 PM on June 26, 2011

There are two key factors to video size: the video dimensions and the compression of the audio and video. Raw (uncompressed) video gets huge, as you see. You can compress audio and video without any loss, and further compression without notable loss.

YouTube is going to recompress it on their end, though, so you're looking at a choice between spending time or spending video quality.

And there is the option in YouTube to display much higher quality images than previously.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:44 PM on June 26, 2011

According to this, youtube recompresses 720p HD down to 2.0 - 2.9 Mbit/s h.264, and 1080p down to 3.5 - 5.0 Mbit/s h.264. For reference, a 9 minute clip at a bitrate of 2.9 Mbit/s is 186.7 Megabytes, or about 5.3 times smaller than what you're uploading. So if your clip is in 720p, it makes no sense for the file to be larger than 187 MB, because it's just going to be cut down to that size (at most) anyway by youtube.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:26 PM on June 26, 2011

Also, I meant to add that what comes out of the camera is likely in a format that's not very compressed (e.g. it's all i-frames) because it's intended for editing, so just because you reduce the size by a factor of 5 or more by recompressing it using a High profile does not necessarily mean that you lose much quality.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:28 PM on June 26, 2011

Thanks all. I'm so glad I have this information. It is very helpful. I feel a little less dumb about this stuff.
posted by Fairchild at 6:41 AM on June 27, 2011

YouTube is going to recompress it on their end, though, so you're looking at a choice between spending time or spending video quality.

Yes, but the OP said the problem was the 10-12 hour upload time. Thus, compress before.

I am crazy because I don't know what the hell I'm doing.

Just to be clear, my comment was intended to be tongue-and-cheek, since there's no way you could ever be expected to know this stuff without asking questions!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:50 AM on June 27, 2011

Of course! I totally got that you were joking. Thanks, Civil_Disobedient.
posted by Fairchild at 11:00 AM on July 1, 2011

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