Preparing Videos


Instructions for preparing videos will vary depending on where they are being uploaded and the software that is being used. The way explained here is fairly simple and easily afforded by the average user. If it is not suitable for you, please search online for other methods.

Videos use a great deal of data and so to play a video online we need to reduce its size so that it will stream smoothly, even when using services like Vimeo or YouTube. These are instructions on how to make your video smaller in size (less width and height) and how to compress the video more.


I use Quicktime Pro for compression. It costs $29.99 to upgrade from Quicktime to Quicktime Pro.

If you have a Mac you already have quicktime. If you are on another operating system you will need to download and install Quicktime.

Buy Quicktime Pro and install it by entering your registration key, as instructed on the Quicktime website.

If you are using another video editor it should have similar capabilities and settings for EXPORTING. DivX Pro is another choice besides Quicktime Pro for converting videos.

Compression Instructions

I followed the compression guidelines from Vimeo but then modified them a bit to compress the videos more than they suggested. Their guidelines are clear and a good place to start.

And Apple’s instructions for exporting are a very thorough explanation but have much extraneous detail. They may be useful in more complex situations.

Also, Longtail Video (who makes JWPlayer, a well-known video player) has a good explanation of compression.

Squidoo provides comprehensive instructions for compressing and uploading videos to YouTube using DivX Pro, as well as instructions for watching and marketing videos.

Instructions for Exporting Videos

1) Open the video in Quicktime Pro. Go to File->Export in the menu. Don’t use “Export for Web”. You will have less control.

2) Navigate to the folder where you want to save the export. Name the exported video something memorable, explanatory and comprehensible. I recommend naming files in all lower case and replacing white space with a dash or underscore.

Choose the appropriate setting from the “Export” dropdown list. This should be clear. For Vimeo, export the file as an MPEG-4 (.mp4) which is now the most up-to-date compression format (like mp3 for audio).

3) Then click “Options” Below are what I have found to be optimal for exporting videos. You may have to experiment with these settings depending on the length and quality of your video. The options I have chosen are for the high definition format. Changing the Date Rate will alter the file size the most. More kbits per second the larger the file. If the Data Rate is too small the video will loose quality and become pixelated. The idea is to find the compromise between the smallest file size with adequate quality playback. If the video is too large it will not stream smoothly, stopping to rebuffer. Changing the width and height will also alter the file size. For an online streaming movie, the exported video should be no wider than 720 pixels. Other common sizes are included in the Image Size dropdown list, such as 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 among others. The size of the exported video needs to be proportional to the original video. In this instance the original video is 1260 x 720 pixels which has been sized to 720 x 405 pixels. In other words the settings will vary depending on the size of your original video.

4) Click the “Audio” tab. Choose the following settings. I have decreased the quality a little from those suggested by Vimeo but not by much. “Encoding Quality” should be “Good” rather than “Better” or “Best”.

5) Keep the defaults in the “Streaming” tab. Click “OK” in this dialog box. Then click “Save” for the export. It can take a long time for the video to be exported, from 10 minutes to an hour or more.

Once you have set the Options, you can use “Most Recent Settings”. I recommend that you write down your settings and keep them to remember them for another day.

6) Open the exported .mp4 and watch it in Quicktime to make sure that it is OK.

7) Upload video to Vimeo or YouTube

See Vimeo upload tutorial: