A Guide to Preparing and Uploading Video to Vimeo

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Vimeo is a great video sharing site for professionals and hobbyists alike. It offers its users 500MB of free storage every week, and features SD and 720p HD playback for free and pro users alike. In order to upload your videos to Vimeo, you need to prepare the files to maximize your storage space and ensure that your videos play smoothly. You'll do this by compressing your videos to Vimeo's specifications.

Keep reading for step-by-step instructions on video compression for Vimeo.

Exporting Your Video from the Timeline:

No matter what nonlinear video editing software you use, whether it be Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro or something similar, you'll need to choose specific video settings to export your finished video from the editing timeline. If these settings are different from those you used to edit your video, the editing program will have to re-compress your video resulting in longer export times, and possible downgrading of quality.

To prepare your video for upload to Vimeo, either export two copies from your video editor – one that matches the sequence settings you used to edit, and one that matches Vimeo's upload specifications. My personal preference is to export a master copy of my video that matches my sequence settings exactly, and then using a program like Toast or MPEG Streamclip to re-compress the video as needed.

You'll find all of the compression settings talked about below in the export dialogue box of your nonlinear video editing or compression software.

Vimeo's Upload Settings:

Vimeo accepts SD and HD videos, and each of these video types have different compression specifications. To create the best-quality video with the smallest file size, use the H.264 video encoder.

This is an open source codec, so you should find that it's supported by most editing and compression programs. Then, you'll need to limit the bit rate of your video to 2,000-5,000 kbps for SD, and 5,000-10,000 kbps for 720p HD video. Limiting the bit rate means limiting the amount of information that's transmitted every second your video is playing. Scaling back your bit rate to Vimeo's specifications will ensure smooth playback for your audience. Vimeo supports constant frame rates of 24, 25, or 30 (or 29.97) frames per second. If your video was shot at a higher frame, just divide that frame rate by two and compress accordingly.

The audio for your project should use the AAC-LC audio codec, and the data rate should be limited to 320 kbps. The sample rate for your audio should be 48 kHz – if your project's audio is less than 48 kHz, which is probable, you can leave your audio at its current sample rate.

The Vimeo Plus/PRO Upgrade:

Although the 500MB storage limit and 720p HD video are more than enough for most Vimeo users, the site offers an upgrade with even more features and space. If you shot your video in full HD, or 1920 x 1080, there's a good chance that you want to play it back online that way, too.

Vimeo offers two different upgrades – Plus and PRO – that feature advanced options for showcasing your video at its best.

Vimeo Plus features 5GB per week of video storage, which is large enough to upload virtually any short video or clip in HD. This storage limit restarts every week so you can upload a new project or clip every 7 days if you run out of space. With a free Vimeo account you can upload 1 HD video per week, but the Plus upgrade lets you upload unlimited HD video as well as allowing for HD embedding on other websites and blogs. This makes Vimeo Plus a great option for hosting video for your portfolio, project, or personal website.

The Vimeo Plus upgrade is one of the most affordable video hosting options you'll find online.

If you're a creative professional and need even more storage capacity for your endeavors, Vimeo also offers the PRO upgrade which features 50GB or storage, unlimited video plays, and HD 1080p video. Perhaps the most important part of the PRO upgrade is that it lets you add your own brand to your videos and site, and removes the Vimeo logo. In addition to having full creative control of your site, you'll also enjoy advanced controls for video playback and the video player itself.

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