Thinking about the right Instagram video format can be one of those things that you don’t really consider, at first. You produce a banging video, and you put it on the platform. Easy, right?
But you upload the video, and you watch it. Ahhh 😱! Your video has been badly cropped! Crap! Your company logo has been cut midway! And that’s not all - your video now looks like it’s been recorded with a potato🥔! It’s blurry. It’s heavily-pixellated. And the text is basically unreadable. So you delete the video as soon as you can.
This is a nightmare that too many of us in marketing and content creation have experienced. But, of course, there is a solution. 💊
In this article, I’ll share Instagram video format specs recommended by the platform and my own personal suggestions. Then, I’ll give out some pointers on how to improve the quality of your Instagram videos and how to prevent the potato quality from happening.
📹Recommended Instagram video format specifications
Here are the video specs recommended by Instagram and by myself, when it comes to uploading your videos
- Video file type: MP4
- Resolution: 4k UHD h.264 (I will tell you why later)
- Minimum frame rate: 30 frames per second
- Duration for Feed video: between 3-60 seconds long.
- Maximum duration for Story video: 15 seconds long
- Maximum duration for IGTV: up to 15 minutes when uploaded from a mobile device | 60 minutes when uploaded from the web (here’s how to upload Instagram via web)
- Max file size for IGTV: Less than 10 mins is 650MB | 10-60 mins is 3.6GB
These dimensions are ideal for the feed, the story and IGTV. In other words, your whole videos will be included if you upload them using these dimensions. They’ll be cropped out if they’re not in the following ratios:
Story: 1080px x 1920px | 9:16
IGTV: Vertical, 9:16 | Horizontal, 16:9
For the Feed:
1:1 (square) - the most widely-used format on Instagram
1:91:1 (landscape) - similar to the 16:9 widescreen format
4:5 portrait - this is slightly taller than the square format
The type of video dimensions & crop you want to use entirely depends on the content you want to show. The landscape format fits videos that are creative or have a cinematic feel to them. The portrait mode allows you to fit more call-to-actions for your ads. And the Instagram 1:1 ratio is best for engagement.
💯How to increase the quality of your Instagram videos
Instagram also compresses your videos, and uploads it at a worse quality than the original. This has caused endless frustration to so many people.
The compression artefacts aren’t fun to look at, and an otherwise great video might be hindered by the horrible compression.
To prevent this, you need to do the following.
Upscale your videos. If it’s at 1080p, push the quality higher. And ideally, export at 4k UHD h.264
Upscaling your videos will offer Instagram a higher bit rate and resolution to start with. In an ideal situation, you’d have a video at 4k to upload on Instagram to get the best quality that you can have.
While the end result will not be at 4k, Instagram offers a disproportionally higher bitrate at 4k resolution than at 1080p, and this is why you get lower compression and better overall quality in detail of the video.
While Instagram doesn’t have recommended bitrates for video uploads, Youtube’s recommendations could indicate why uploading at 4k is better to reduce quality loss:
As you can see here, at 1080p, Youtube suggests 8Mbps. But then Youtube has a higher bitrate at 4k, which is up to 45Mbps - potentially up to 5x higher.
I reckon that the same idea goes for Instagram in that they use different bandwidths at 1080p and 4k… so the overall compressed quality of the 4k video ends up better disproportionally than at lower resolutions.
Lift the shadows and reduce the contrast, before you colour grade the video.
This is not only because the overall aesthetic of most influencer videos rely on bright backgrounds. Images that are bright generate 24% more likes than those that are dark on the platform.
But Instagram’s compression also punishes dimly-lit videos. Simply put, low-light images that have undergone compression have more visible pixel artefacts on the shadows, and it creates a muddy mess. You can use video filters and colour grading to fix this.
Transfer the video file to your phone, without compressing!
You need to be sure that your transfer method won’t automatically compress your file along the way. Here are some ways to transfer, without quality loss.
Mac to iOS → AirDrop
Mac to Android → WeTransfer or Dropbox
Windows/Linux to iOS → WeTransfer or Dropbox
Windows to Android → USB cable
Upload as usual
That’s it! You can finally upload your video with the most optimal specs there are. But don’t forget that you can skip 3 if you’re uploading a video via IGTV, which you can do through the Instagram web app.
I hope these are useful pointers that you can use to make the best possible Instagram videos 😃. Knowing Instagram video format specifications is one of those things that may seem annoying to learn at first. But once you do, then there’s a lot less stress on your side when it comes to uploading videos.
Julian Canlas is a digital strategist focused on content and product. He’s worked with several tech companies to optimize what they create and to reach the people they want. He has a blog on strategy called jic94.com. Say hello to him on Twitter @jic94 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.