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.
Wrapping your head around 360p, 480p, 720p and 1080p video resolutions can be quite confusing. What do they all even mean? Let’s break it down.
There are four main video resolutions: 360p, 480p, 720p and 1080p. They all represent how many horizontal lines a video has from top to bottom.
For example, a video that is 480p is made up of 480 horizontal lines, each line being 852 pixels wide. That’s how we get the resolution of 852 x 480 pixels, meaning 480p.
To summarise, pixel length x pixel height = video resolution. 852 x 480 pixels is referring to the number of pixels (or lines) the video has, and 480p is referring to the video's overall progressive scan. Progressive scan is a format of displaying, storing and transmitting video in which all the horizontal lines of each frame are drawn in sequence. A progressive scan video appears smoother than interlaced video.
Under control now? Let’s jump into the difference between all four video resolutions.
To many of us, 360p, 480p, 720p and 1080p just mean the higher the progressive scan (number), the higher the quality of video. That’s about it. Does the file size get bigger as well? Let’s dive into the details.
What is 360p used for?
This resolution is basically only used for mobile devices as the smaller progressive scan uses up less data. But if you’re wanting a clear, crisp and HD video, this isn't the resolution for you. 360p will appear blurry on larger screens and has the least amount of quality.
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.
480p used to be the highest resolution offered for people to export their video content in. How the times have changed! If you’re looking to burn a DVD, this resolution will give your disc the best possible quality. It still is the most commonly used video resolution as is it well played on most laptops and desktop monitors. Even some smaller TVs still use 480p.
What is 720p?
Welcome to True High-Definition! True High-Definition starts at 720p, and this is the resolution you’re used to seeing on your HD TV. If you’re wanting to upload your video onto social media, this resolution will do the trick.
What is 1080p?
If you’re wanting to show your video on a large screen, YouTube, Vimeo or a video sharing platform, 1080p is the best quality resolution you should be using.
It prides itself on crystal clear playback! The higher the resolution, the higher the video quality.
It's also the highest resolution you can use to export a video in our video editor.
What’s next after 1080p? Is Ultra HD available?
Yes! 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 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 the best YouTube video resolution?
A: 1080p and 720p are best for YouTube.
YouTube allows both 720p and 1080p video resolutions to be uploaded. They do however recommend 1280 x 720 pixels for fastest loading speed. Videos will only be accepted in widescreen 16:9 video ratio in WMV, AVI, MOV and FLV file formats. For more information check out our Ultimate Guide to YouTube Videos blog.
We recommend exporting and uploading your video project in 1080p x 1920p resolution (super HD video). File format should be MP4 or MOV.
Q: What about the best video resolution for Facebook?
You can choose either 720p or 1080p.
Regular Facebook feed video & Facebook in-stream video ads
Facebook Feed videos and in-stream video ads should be exported in 720p for the fastest upload time and great quality. You can use 1080p but if your internet is slow your video may take a while to upload to Facebook.
Minimum width = 120 pixels
Supported aspect ratios: 16:9 (horizontal) to 9:16 (full portrait)
Facebook carousel video ads
Carousel video should always be uploaded in either 720p or 1080p video resolution for the best quality. Similar to the Facebook feed videos, although carousel video dimensions are 1:1 Square ratio. Head over to our Ultimate Facebook Video Guide blog for more details.
Facebook 360 video: Maximum size: 5120 x 2560p (monoscopic) or 5120 x 5120p (stereoscopic). More on monoscopic and stereoscopic here.
Q: What about the best video resolution for Instagram?
For in-feed video posts and in-feed video ads on Instagram, a similar solution to Facebook applies.
Upload the highest resolution video available (720p or 1080p) that meets file size and ratio limits. Landscape in feed videos should be 600 x 315 aspect ratio, vertical 600 x 750 aspect ratio and square being 600 x 600 aspect ratio.
For Instagram carousel ads: The recommended size is at least 1080 x 1080 (square videos only)
For Instagram Stories video ads: Upload the highest-resolution video you have within the file size and ratio limits, ensuring it’s larger than 600 x 1067 with the aspect ratio of 9:16.
For more handy tips on file sizes and ratio limits for Instagram, check out our Ultimate Guide.
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 that footage today!