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Video Production Tips

Video Resolutions Explained

We’re all familiar with video resolutions, or are we? There’s nothing worse than when a video’s resolution hinders its potential for greatness! Too big or too small—there’s room for error at both ends of the scale. 

For picture perfect resolution every time, here’s our quick guide to video resolutions for beginners—that doubles as a handy refresher for more experienced editors. You’re welcome

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Video resolutions 

Resolution measures how many pixels an image contains. Ah, so that’s what the ‘p’ stands for - pixels! A pixel is the smallest unit of a digital image or graphic that can be displayed and represented on a digital display device. Each tiny pixel is a piece of the puzzle—when all the pixels' power comes together, we get resolution—and when we get resolution, we get an image! Ta-da! 

To summarise, image resolution = pixel length x pixel height = resolution.

Another way to think of it is; the resolution represents the number of horizontal lines a video has from top to bottom. So, a 480p video is made up of 480 lines stacked one on top of another—but don’t worry, you don’t have to count them!

Got it? Now, what’s with all the different numbers? 

The Numbers

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For many of us, 480p, 780p and 1080p are just numbers. We get the higher ones equate to better videos, but that's about it.

When the number of pixels in an image is higher, the image’s resolution gets higher too. 

Why use 360p?

This resolution is fine for smartphones and other mobile devices because the smaller ‘res’ uses up less data, but it can appear blurry on larger screens.

What does 480p mean?

480p also known as Standard Definition (SD) and often called ‘DVD quality’. Back in the day of ‘burning DVDs’ this resolution offered the highest quality allowed played well laptop and desktop monitors. Note: nowadays, if you want a sharper motion picture (higher res), you’ll need to use a Blu-ray disc and Blu-ray burner. 

A commonly asked question: is 1080p/720p HD? 

Firstly, what’s HD? HD video resolution stands for High Definition

HD video refers to 1080p resolution, which can also be called ‘Full HD’. 

For the record—yes, both 1080p and 720p are High Definition (HD). 720p is Standard HD (or some call it semi-HD), whereas 1080p is known as Full HD or FHD. 

What’s 720p resolution

Welcome to True High-Definition! True HD starts at 720p, and this is the resolution you’re used to seeing on your HD TV. 

What’s 1080p resolution 

What’s better than 720p? 1080p! See, now you’re getting the hang of it! With higher resolution, your videos get even better. The videos you share on social media are guaranteed to have great quality—especially if viewed on larger screens and TVs. 

Wait a second, what’s Ultra-HD? Anything above 1080p is considered Ultra-HD (UHD). Commonly, the magic pixel for this 2160p or ‘4K’ or even ‘Quad HD’. Today’s digital cameras shoot from 2K-8K (2,000-8,000 pixels), with 4K being the standard for UHD viewing. 

So, which video resolution is best?

The short answer is the highest resolution is the best. The long answer is, it’s a little more complicated than that. For example, you don’t want someone with a slower internet connection to be waiting for a really HD video to load on their screen. Especially if it’s a mobile phone and using data and it could be easily viewed at a lower resolution for that purpose. 

Because, the higher resolution of a video = the bigger the file size! Who would have guessed that (all of you video whizzes, that’s who!)

When it comes to social media, here’s a cheat sheet to that niggling question: what video resolution should I use?

Q: What is YouTube video resolution?

A: 1080p and 720p are best for YouTube.

YouTube allows users to upload various media formats with plenty of different dimensions, however, these videos should all follow the 16:9 ratio. Common resolutions in the 16:9 ratio are 1920 x 1080 pixels and 1280 x 720 pixels. Hence, 1080p and 720p are best.

For more info, check out our blog: The Ultimate Guide to YouTube Videos

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Q: What about the video resolution for Facebook?

A: It depends!

Regular Facebook feed video & Facebook in-stream video ads:

Use your highest-resolution video—that meets file size and ratio limits.

Note: 

  • Minimum width = 120 pixels

  • Supported aspect ratios: 16:9 (horizontal) to 9:16 (full portrait)

At least 1080 x 1080p (1:1 aspect ratio)

Facebook 360 video: Maximum size: 5120 x 2560p (monoscopic) or 5120 x 5120p (stereoscopic). More on monoscopic and stereoscopic here

As for Instagram? For in-feed video and in-feed video ads: A similar solution to Facebook applies: Upload the highest resolution video available that meets file size and ratio limits. Just make sure the width is a minimum of 500 pixels.

For Instagram carousel ads: The recommended size is at least 1080 x 1080p with the minimum size of 600 x 600p.

For Instagram Stories video ads: Upload the highest-resolution video you have within the file size and ratio limits, ensuring it’s larger than 500 x 889p with the aspect ratio of 16:9 to 4:5 and 9:16.

For more handy tips on file sizes and ratio limits for social media, check out these blogs: 

The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Videos 

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Videos

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Now you’re schooled or refreshed on video resolutions, you better get back to the task at hand: editing that awesome footage! By now we’re sure you’re aware of ClipChamp but in case you didn’t know—we’re here to make creating video content a breeze with all the tools to edit, compress and convert that footage today!

Start creating video with Clipchamp Create for free.