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Which codecs and export settings should I use for my VOD archives?

There are numerous books, videos and tutorials online around this topic. Compression rate, resolution, bitrate and frame rate (true for both VOD and live-streams) are four factors balancing quality and file size. It is all about getting the most balanced “mix” of these values in order to output the best quality at the lowest file size. Here are our recommendations: 

A codec is the format in which your video is encoded. We accept most major codecs, but for best results we recommend H.264.

H.264 is a standard codec that balances high visual quality with efficient file size. It's a great starting point for encoding your videos as it ensures a good quality at substantially lower bitrates. Using H.264 you'll get the most of our your upload quota while minimizing upload and conversion times. Be sure to choose the "Baseline" or “Main Profile” H.264 setting. 
There are other codecs and you are most welcome to experiment with different codecs and settings, but for simplicity sake, and for best results, we recommend the most widely supported H.264 codec. 

Frame rate
It is most recommended to maintain the video’s native frame rate when compressing your video. We recommend a constant frame rate throughout your entire video. Always choose “constant” frame rate instead of “variable” frame rate.

While we accept many frame rates, these are the most commonly used:

Bit rate
The bit rate of any video asset (whether for VOD or LIVE) controls the visual quality of the file and, as a result, determines its file size (or amount of data you are sending from your live-encoder when pushing a live-stream to a CDN access point / POP). For VOD: if your video editing software gives you the option, choose a “variable” bit rate and select a value from the ranges below. You can experiment with different rates if your file is too large or you’re not happy with the quality of your source file.

Videos come in all shapes and sizes but these are some of the most common formats.

*Stereoscopic video should be uploaded with the left and right view stacked on top of each other as 4096 x 1024 (4:1 aspect ratio) for each eye. 

Channels: Stereo
For best results, we recommend 2-channel Stereo audio, simply because it is most widely supported by all publishing platforms (web, social, OTT, mobile). 

Codec: AAC-LC (Advanced Audio Codec)

For best results, we recommend using AAC-LC (low complexity) for the audio codec.
Data rate: 320 kbit/s

For best results, encode your audio at constant rate of 320 kbit/s.
Sample rate: 48 kHz

For best results, set your audio sample rate to 48 kHz. If your setting is already less than or equal to 48 kHz, leave it as is. There is no need to set the sample rate above 48 kHz.

More information about recommended codes and bitrates for Live Streaming can be found in our Live Streaming Tutorial: click here (you must be logged in to your Lightcast account)