How I make HD videos for YouTube and how to FAKE HD

This post is taken from the forums, but I wanted to move it over to here and update it.  Plus, I wrote it a few months back and never made it live for some reason.. so I updated it a little with new info and decided to make it live.  FINALLY!

I wanted to show you how I make HD videos for YouTube and how you can cheat if you don’t have an HD camera.

sny-a1uFirst of all, I shoot with a Sony HVR-V1U which is an awesome camera. It’s a video camera that shoots in a form of compressed HD and can shoot in a format called 24p or 30p.. meaning that it can shoot video that looks like film. You can get it discounted at Amazon.

Be careful if you decide to buy this camera or another high-end video camera from retailers online. THERE IS A SCAM GOING ON.. and I write about it here.

Back to the camera. For HD, you can get by with any HD camera… I went with the more expensive camera, because it allows me to have a external microphone input so that I can be far from the camera, yet sound good. If the camera will be right in front of you, you can get by with a MUCH cheaper camera without an external mic input. Video camera manufacturers use the “extra mic input” as the deciding factor on how much they charge for the camera. External mic input = $1000-$2000 more in price!

If you can’t afford an HD camera, don’t worry, I’ll show you how to cheat, in a bit :-)

Now, I put the camera on a tripod, put the external mic in front of me, down low, so as not to be in the shot, turn the video screen around on the camera so that I can see it, then I record. You can see me in action recording here.

Once recorded, I bring the video footage into my Mac and edit in Final Cut Pro. You can edit in iMovie which is free on all Macs.. or use things like Sony Vegas on PCs.

Once edited, I then output the final product at 1280×720 size, h.264 video format at 3-4mbps and 128kbs aac audio.

The file sizes are large and take a while to compress.. but the results are well worth the wait.


Now.. I mentioned CHEATING! If you don’t have an HD camera, then go ahead and record with your regular DV camera, but put some black tape along the bottom 1/8th of the LCD screen and along the top 1/8th as a guide – as you are going to crop your video to make it look like it’s wide-screen.

When you have finished editing your video, then go ahead and compress it at the 1280×720 settings I have above, with the bottom 1/8th and top 1/8th of the screen cropped out prior to outputting it. It may be a little more than an 1/8th on each side. Just play around until you have something that looks right.

Then when you upload this 1280×720 video to YouTube, YouTube will think it’s an HD video and allow it to be played back in HD.

If you don’t like the final faux-HD look (it will not be as clear as real HD), then keep the crop and upload the video as 640×360 and you will get a nice looking widescreen video that will be a bit bigger than the 640×480 old-school format.

One final way to do faux HD is to do what iJustine did for a while before she got her HD camera.  Shoot with a low res camera, no cropping, then put cute pics on the side to make the screen widescreen, then output the whole video, again, up-res’d to 1280×720 and voila, HD!

You can see her final result here. askij


Oh.. by the way.. if you want to shoot HD REALLY cheaply, Philip DeFranco, or sxephil, uses the Canon SD780 IS camera that he tweeted about here.
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

He uses the Canon camera to shoot his personal Vlog on YouTube in HD. The camera can be had for around $200. It’s great in that it also takes amazing still pictures, so it’s a good all around camera.  A lot of other YouTubers use the Flip Mino HD camera to shoot their HD recordings.  No still pics with the Flip, but great for recording video.  It comes in a lot of flavors.

Now remember, these cheap alternatives DO NOT have an external mic input, so the audio will not be as good as the MUCH more expensive cameras with mic inputs!

The hottest selling HD camcorder that I know of that has an external mic input is the Canon HV30.  You used to be able to get it for about $700… but I’m looking on Amazon and it is no longer made and going for over $1000!!! If you guys know of some inexpensive HD camcorders with external mic inputs please let me know below in the comments.

If you have any additional questions about things you want me to cover, please ask in the comments below.

Next up.. I can talk about how I edit if you guys are interested.


- Marina

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27 Responses to How I make HD videos for YouTube and how to FAKE HD

  1. Jerry Rutherford says:

    I’ve been using Sony Vegas, and I set the output to 16:9 format, 854×480 as my resolution. I use a Canon A590IS for a lot of stuff including the underwater video. Recently I got a Canon 130EX which shoots 720P and works well. I still down-convert to 854×480 so the file sizes are more manageable.  That may not fly for broadcast… I think it does fine for YouTube.

    As for external audio… I purchased a ($90) MP3 recorder and a clip mic. I record the audio from both the camera and the MP3 recorder. Once in the video suite (MAC or PC) you can select which soundtrack you like, or pan between them. I only recently started doing this… so many older videos still have the wind noise, etc.

    Thanks for the tips!
    Askjerry –

  2. Privet Marina, Spasibo za post.  U menya flip camera sony HD, ya vse peregivala chto qualiti plohoe poluchitsya.  Vopros – esli ya hochu delat tolko simple editing smogu li ya ispolzovat tolko iMovie?  Tak kak ya ne ispolzuu green screen? BTW – ti super, takaya umnaya i molodes.  Ya tolko nedavno posluchainosti natknulas na tvoi video na Youtube, ya obojau ih smotret.

  3. Hs4Mm says:

    I’ve never understood what the big deal is about 24 fps as far as viewer experience is concerned … how about doing one of the lessons that way? If not a lesson, an experiment on hot4words?

    Till very recently, theaters only showed film running at 24 fps — and so raw footage is captured at 24 fps. Pretty soon, theaters will go digital; if 24 fps does indeed afford a good viewer experience, then these digital theaters would support it; but I doubt it. When theaters go digital, they will offer better 3-D because of the better sync between the left and right eyes. The first digital 3-D, if not for regular release then at least for experimental release was about a year or so ago — I got to see parts of it at an event hosted by Intel (we saw it at least 6 months before they were to be released to the public). We were two movies, both animations; one involved some kung-foo creature (panda?) and the other was about some president.

  4. Hs4Mm says:

    NixiePixel mentioned the Kodak Zi8 camcorder — seems it is 1080p, USB, external mic.

    NixiePixel’s twitter profile picture prompts the following:

    Question: What is a phillips screw?

    Answer: It’s a screw with a cross.

    Answer continues: Think about the double meaning in the answer! NixiePixel’s profile shows the best use for a cross that I know of!

    History: This Q/A was part of the hazing at the college I went to. I don’t approve of the practice of hazing.

    • Hs4Mm says:

      By the way, the above is in reply to your question:

      If you guys know of some inexpensive HD camcorders with external mic inputs please let me know below in the comments.

      But why are you looking for such a thing? As a replacement for your iPhone video camera?

  5. Hs4Mm says:

    Regarding your question of whether we are interested in knowing how you edit: The technicalities of using a video editing software suite are not that complex — not complex to start learning and to develop oneself as an editor. What is complex is the creative part of taking an OED type entry on the origin of a word and creating a script for a video.

    For my channel, there is only one lesson for which I have a very good script (the script involves a tiger, snake, elephant, and buffalo, with associated sound effects — and will take me ages to make. Although the components of the script seem silly, the video won’t be; and the idea to be communicated is fundamental/abstract, is of wide applicability, is something people can easily understand — but often attempt to contradict the fact involved!). I thought if I made a few lesson any-which-way, I would begin to get better script ideas, but that did not happen. So now I am going to make that one lesson (how ever long it will take) in the hope that the process of making that lesson will give me some insights into communicating my ideas with better scripts.

    So I would like to know about how you translate the “text-book” word origins into scripts.

    When I watch movies or other visual material, it is just for the story/content/message and not for observing how the content is being communicated. What do you consider when you watch visual material?

  6. thematrix75 says:

    Hello Marina,good lesson,I would like to hear about how you edit for sure!What’s up with some of these people that typed below have no reply button?Thank you for your time :!:

  7. Greatest Potential says:

    ;-) trained eye knows. nuff said.

  8. wyo550 says:

    You don’t need an HD camera to get HD Youtubes, just a huge file (AVI uncompressed that take hours to upload). Here’s the latest one for me, from just a standard digital video camera, edited with Pinnacle on a PC:

    As always, content is more important than image resolution. The music video I did of the final lap of the 2006 Japanese GP is closing in on 100,000 views- without tits and in standard rez- because of the song selection from the band GARBAGE,
    “I’m only happy when it rains.”

    • wyo550 says:

      Here’s a side-by-side comparison of image quality:
      Part One, Ferraris from Monaco-to Maranello (HQ from AVI upload)

      Part Two, (Standard quality from WMV upload)
      (to really see the difference, hit the “HQ” button on Youtube and you’ll see how the in-house Youtube compression turns the WMV into a really blocky compressed image.

      To avoid copyright infringement, I broke the song I used in the two videos apart and made them incomplete and I credited both the artist and Sony at the end of each video. Youtube’s system spotted the copyrighted song’s data structure and is selling advertising to the song with my video, which is very cool. I hope the video will sell some albums for Sony and Eros Ramazotti.

  9. dsfoto says:

    Thank You Dear Teacher for the info on the Sony HVR-V1U Sweet camera I BEEN USING A Kodak z812? iT Shoots up to an hour on a 2 Gig Flash Disk has a built in Motion Stabilizer cost $200 it is my 4th Kodak Digital and only Cost $200 what’s a poor boy supposed to do? Have long thought and from experiance had trouble with Sony interfacing with other makers??? Nevertheless Nice Camera I am Jealous :smile: as to Edit I use Adobe Premiere and Premire Pro 53 years growing up in my Papas Dark Room yet Im a newbe….

  10. jahanzebk says:

    hey Marina nice post
    theres alot of work that goes into everything when you are shooting in HD

    ive got the Canon HV-40 its really an amazing camera

  11. pedanticKarl says:

    Since the URLS didn’t get shortened, and when they transferred over to here from Twitoaster, the URLs became malformed. The URLs are working properly in the original tweet.

    MSNBC Producer Flips Out

    MSNBC Producer Apologizes for “Flip Out”

    • Capman911 says:

      I give you two guesses what is the sex of the producer. lol You have a fifty fifty chance at guessing. The first choice doesn’t count. :lol: So give it a try. LMAO at those two videos. :shock:

  12. Hs4Mm says:

    Regarding people making comments without being registered visitors of HFW, what is worse is the nature of the comments: tweets do not make good comments — they are like noise in audio (or vinyl record scratches, tape hum).

  13. Mike says:

    i’d be interesting in how you edit… cool info above. Thanks.

  14. Hs4Mm says:

    1) For a few months now, I have been toying with the idea of getting the Cannon VIXIA HF S10.

    The VIXIA is the top end of Cannon’s “professional consumer” aka “prosumer” (nerd word) line.

    a) The entire VIXIA family has external mic input.

    b) The record to memory (rather than tape or rotating drive).

    c) The difference between S10 and the S11 is only in the amount of memory.

    d) Cannon offers still-camera-features for their video cameras. For example, the automatic focus, light etc. controls can be over-ridden manually. Also, if I remember correctly, it has some hardware feature for controlling contrast — I like high contrast.

    e) Although the S10 is listed at 1200, it can be had for around 1000 or maybe less from reputable dealers (such as Video Only), especially during the upcoming sale season.

    f) Can capture audio in 16 bits.

    g) Can capture in low light conditions. This camera has one big CCD sensor. The professional cameras have 3 sensors but the sensors are of a different material. The sensor used in prosumer cameras can work in low light conditions; but the sensors used in professional cameras need external lights. The “hood/box” you see in the picture of HotForWords’ camera is for gathering the light and getting it to the sensors; prosumer cameras do not have such a hood.

    h) Even though there is an external mic input, there still is an internal mic. The external mic need not be expensive! A cheap one “from the dollar store” will result in audio that is a zillion times better than the one from the built in mic.

    i) I do not know if the camera lens can be changed.

    j) There is something about a feature of a “flash” (flash as in light, not memory) connector on the top of video cameras that I have not looked into.

    2) For video editing software, I highly recommend getting Adobe Master Collection. Adobe Master Suite has much more tools than just Adobe Premier for video editing, for eg, it has Photoshop, Flash, After Effects, Soundbooth etc. Although it lists for 2500, it can be had for much (very much — you won’t believe it) lower price if you are a beginner to video. It runs on either the PC or the Mac. If you buy for PC today and decide to get a Mac later, Adobe will allow you to switch over. Version upgrades cost 1000 (no discount on upgrade price).

    The interface for Premier and FC are similar — if you know one, you can use the other.

    What I heard: FC used to be available for the PC till about 2 years ago, and Apple was making the interface similar to Premier in order to take over Premier customers. Adobe told Apple they would not sell Photoshop for the Mac unless Apple stops selling FC for the PC.

    (If you know people who work at Apple you can get Apple products cheap via Apple’s “Friends and Family” discount.)

    One other video editing tool which is free is kdenlive. NixiePixel has an introductory video on this. Supposedly it (about 1.44 Gigs) can be burnt on a DVD and run while using the hard-drives from a Windows PC.

    3) There are counterparts of garageband for Windows, which are free but I don’t have the list handy.

    4) Hard-drives (for use with video editing computer) are being sold real cheap — my guess is that they are being sold cheap because they will become obsolete soon. USB 3.0 is expected next year: it will be 10 times faster than USB 2.0 (and 5 to 10 times faster than firewire).

    PS: In the write up above, you say that you watch yourself in by turning over the LCD display — as of recently, didn’t you get a big external monitor to watch yourself? There was a twitpic or an interview photo that showed such a monitor near the tripod legs; and I think you also tweeted or interview Q/A’ed the purpose of that monitor.

    • Hs4Mm says:

      Remembered a few more things: I looked into cameras around Labor Day. At that time, Sony cameras at under $1200 were only 1080i (interlaced, not progressive), but the Canon was 1080p.

      My criteria were:

      (1) Capture to memory (not tape or drive).

      (2) External mic.

      (3) Manual over-ride of any features such as auto-focus etc. (Not having this is like not being able to turn of auto-spell-correction!)

      (4) Should be able to capture in low-light conditions. Cameras have a feature called something like night-light (exact name depends on the manufacturer) — this is not good because the movie will look like it has been taken by an infra-red camera or will look greenish. They may also have a feature called something like back-light — this is good because it somehow results in the effect of the scene being brightly lit from the back!

      (5) Hardware support to capture with enhanced contrast (I think that “Michael-amanda” guy uses this feature).

      (6) 16 bit audio

      (7) Easy means to get captured movie into the computer.

      I found out about 1080i vs 1080p while examining cameras at the stores (Frys and Video Only).

      Two other things I found out at the store was the number of sensors in the professional vs in the pro-sumer (and consumer) models; and that connector at the top of the camera. I am unclear about that connector at the top.

      My thoughts on Professional vs Pro-sumer: If I were to buy a camera, I did rather buy the top of the line pro-sumer rather than the bottom-of-the line professional. I have a similar view for cars too, here’s what I mean: Car manufacturers have a regular line and a luxury line (Honda-Accura, Toyota-Lexus, Ford-Lincoln, GM has several lines from Chevy to Cadillac); I would prefer to buy the top of the line mid-size Honda rather than the bottom of the line mid-size Accura. I believe the same-sized cars in each line are essentially the same, with the luxury line having some tweaks; so a top-of-the line regular car would be better than the bottom of the line luxury car of the same size; and the luxury one would cost more because of the brand-name.

      Surprise: As of early September 2009, Canon is the only manufacturer who meets both criteria (1 and 2)! (And Canon’s VIXIA S10 meets the other criteria too!)

  15. Hs4Mm says:

    Human readable comment numbers are messed up — some are negative. Might have been caused by using the twitoaster site to reply to comments that do not have a reply button.

  16. leonard says:

    :sad: wire tap: 1.) 2.) 3.) :idea: GaGa…movies for the sake of ArT……….. ;-) 1000 points of lights are not too droning :grin: :lol: :smile: I’m [Interested]…. [droll]…”Video-honey” and her drones :lol: — +++ numbers go negative :lol:

  17. Capman911 says:

    That’s cool. It uses your Gravatar from Twitter than from Marina’s site.

    • Hs4Mm says:

      Sorry, all three have shown up! But the replies to comments without reply buttons showed up as brand new comments.

      White comment number to right is messed up — getting negative numbers!

  18. razor says:

    New Kodak Zi8 has external mic input (and tripod mount). Cost < $200

    I haven't used it so I have no idea how good it is.

  19. razor says:

    New Kodak Zi8 has external mic input (and tripod mount). Cost < $200

    I haven't used it so I have no idea how good it is.

  20. pat haskett says:

    I have an old video cam so I don’t think I can play with you guys today.

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Not your typical philologist! Putting the LOL in PhiLOLogy :-)