Before you start uploading to your Wistia account, get familiar with our recommendations for video resolution, settings, and formats. This will make uploading easier, and you will end up with top quality web encodes for your videos!
Export settings are configured when you publish or export a video from your editing/creation tools. Wistia has a few ideal specifications we recommend when you export a video prior to uploading:
- File Type: MP4 (recommended)
- Codec: h.264/AVC (required)
- Resolution: between 640px and 3840px wide
- Bitrate : 5,000–8,000 kbps (recommended)
- Framerate: constant, 15–60 frames per second
- Aspect Ratio: We accept videos of any aspect ratio, but wider = higher quality
- Codec: AAC (Advanced Audio Codec)
- Sample Rate: 44.1 kHz
- Channels: 2-channel Stereo (not surround)
After you upload a video to Wistia, it enters the processing stage where we will encode a series of video assets or derivatives. The settings on your video are the blueprint for this process. These assets will be encoded at various sizes and quality levels to ensure a great viewing experience across a wide array of devices and networks. The original file you upload does not get delivered via the Wistia player, we will only serve the optimized video assets we create.
We use a width-based encoding algorithm to determine the quality of assets that a video will receive. This means that the wider your original video is, the higher quality output it will have in Wistia. Each asset we create has a width threshold that must be met in order to receive that quality level, and each quality level has a maximum possible bit rate.
Here is a full list of the assets we can create, and the maximum bit rate for each:
|3840 x 2160p (4K)||11,250 kbps|
|1920 x 1080p||5,625 kbps|
|1280 x 720p||3,750 kbps|
|960 x 540p||1,800 kbps|
|640 x 360p||1,200 kbps|
|400 x 224p||300 kbps|
For example: if you want your video to play in 1080p quality, your original video must be at least 1920px wide. If you want 720p quality, your video must be at least 1280px wide.
Our system accepts many common file formats, but for the most consistent performance we recommend exporting files in MP4 format (suggested) with the H.264 codec (required). For non-MP4 uploads, we will re-encode the video to MP4 after you upload:
|Media Type||Formats Accepted|
|Video||MOV, MPG, AVI, FLV, F4V, MP4, M4V, ASF, WMV, VOB, MOD, 3GP, MKV, DIVX, XVID, WEBM|
|Audio||MP3, WAV, AIF, AU, M4A|
|Documents||PDF, DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX|
|Images||JPG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, BMP, DCM|
Note on Codecs: We currently require the H.264 codec on all uploads, which is a common standard for web video. The codec on a video file is responsible for compressing & decompressing the content, and it’s a crucial factor in terms successful encoding & playback. Uploading a video with an unsupported codec will often result in a video that fails to process, or a video that won’t play at all in certain browsers. Need to transcode your video to H.264? We recommend the free tool Handbrake which we use on our end all the time.
We currently have limited support for the ProRes codec, however this will end up being transcoded to H.264 on our end. You can upload videos encoded with ProRes, it’ll just mean a slightly longer time to process due to the additional transcoding step.
Wistia’s Vulcan player uses HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) to deliver the best possible version of your video at any given time. This means that the Wistia player will switch quality streams depending on the internet speed available, by making regular checks on the viewer’s connection. Wistia’s adaptive streaming will automatically choose the highest quality version of the video to serve your viewers without buffering. This is also informed by the size of the embedded video - if you’ve embedded a video at a small size like 640x360 wide, we won’t serve a 1920x1080 asset to that space as it’s an inefficient use of bandwidth. However if the viewer enters fullscreen, we’ll scale up to the highest quality available if the connection can handle it.
If Vulcan detects a slower internet connection initially but the connection speed improves during playback, the player start on a lower quality, then switch to a higher quality stream based on this detection. The viewers don’t have to touch anything! Pretty rad, right? Check out an example of what this looks like below:
Uploading within the Wistia app supports file sizes of up to 8GB. One of the key ways to manage file sizes on your videos is to export them with a reasonable bit rate. We recommend going no higher than 10,000 Kbps, and most uploaded videos can be kept in the 5,000–8,000 Kbps range unless they include a lot of finite detail — think water, leaves, sand, etc.
If you find yourself with a video under 2 hours long that is larger than 8GB, it’s likely that a compression step was missed, and you may want to re-export the video with a lower bit rate.
Wistia encodes versions of your video with specific maximum bit rates, so a higher bit rate on the original file isn’t necessarily problematic — and in some sections of our exporting guide you may see a higher suggested rate. However staying within the recommended range of 5,000–7,000 Kbps is mainly to keep your file size down, as well as ensuring a shorter upload time.
For videos uploaded with a bit rate less than 1,200 Kbps, there is a separate encoding process. This is mainly for content like screencasts with a lot of static images or slides that don’t necessarily need the full range of derivatives listed above. For these files, there will be one primary video asset encoded at the native resolution & bit rate of the uploaded video.
Looking for help exporting from software like Final Cut Pro X, ScreenFlow, or Camtasia? Head over to our exporting guides.