This is one of those things that has driven me absolutely insane the past few months. I searched and searched for the solution, but it was always bogged down with results from Final Cut Pro, which is considerably more suited to this, since it ships with Compressor.
I use Final Cut Express 3.5 (Does FCE 4 have a better system for this?). It edits in HD formats quite well, but I have long struggled with getting my completed movies out of the program and formatted properly (aspect ratio/resolution) for upload to high quality video sharing sites like Vimeo. My old method was to take the completed HD sequence, open a new sequence in DV NTSC, drop the HD sequence in there, and re-render. Sucky, and the quality lessens, of course.
While tooling around the other day, I finally figured it out. It’s so obvious that I figured that might be the reason it doesn’t come up in searches. Here’s what I did.
- Export using QuickTime Conversion
- Choose the Codec (I use H.264 with just about everything auto)
- Choose a new size for the movie
- For Vimeo, I use 1280 × 720 (you need 1280 width to qualify it as HD on Vimeo)
- For smaller (YouTube, others) use 720 × 405 or 480 × 270. You can certainly use a larger size, but if it’s all you’re doing, you’ll improve speed by keeping it smaller
- I leave everything else defaulted
It’s much easier than I thought it would be. With the video requirements being what they are (500MB/week on Vimeo, 100MB per upload on YouTube) you should be able to get a decent video uploaded based on these specs. A 90-second video I encoded came out to about 120MB at 1280 × 720. Making it smaller for YouTube should give you more flexibility to get under the requirement. YouTube also does the task of fitting the video into a letterbox format for you, which I believe was not the case a while back.
Check out the quality of the Vimeo videos here. It’s truly incredible-looking stuff.