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February 18, 2014
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TutorialsVideo Editing

How to Edit and Encode Videos for Instagram

Tweak your Instagram vids beyond what you can achieve in the app. In this post we share a more powerful workflow for editing your Instagram videos.

Since adding video to its service in the summer of 2013sharing video through Instagram has grown from a simple photo app to a powerful way of showing off your videos to a growing network of friends and users. With these steps you can import your best 15 seconds for the world to see.

1. The rules of Instagram are made simple: 15 seconds of video in a 1:1 square ratio. First, bring your video into an editing application and cut at will. Most video editing applications allow you to modify the aspect ratio of your project.

Instagram video dimensions are 640X640.

If you don’t know how to do this, Instagram will automatically crop the sides of the video upon import and let you tweak the cropping point within the app, but if you want to double check the crop points before putting it onto your phone do it here or within the encoding process.

2. Next, you will want to get your video into the H.264 codec. This format is ideal because it looks great while still keeping your file size low (to make transferring your video quick and painless). Instagram will accept other video formats, this is just the smoothest one I have found.

I use Compressor with the H.264 setting, but other encoding apps will also convert to H.264 (like Adobe Media Encoder or the free MPEG Streamclip app).

How to encode a video for instagram

3. Once the video is in the right format, the easiest way I have found to get a video from your desktop to your phone is by using the Dropbox app with a free account. If you aren’t familiar with Dropbox, it’s a cloud storage company that offers limited amount of space for free users but more than enough than we need for this project. Sign up and download here.

How to use Dropbox with Instagram

4. After you have uploaded your video to the Dropbox folder on your computer. Then, install the app on to your phone, find your video file within the app and save it to your camera roll or gallery. Here you can you access it from Instagram. Now share your creation with the world.

Dropbox

Got your own tricks for editing and exporting video for Instagram? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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  • Mark Cernosia

    There is a great app for iPhone called SquareadyV which helps convert your video to be 1:1. Pretty good for keeping the correct aspect ratio for your video. One thing I’ve also noticed with Instagram videos is that sometimes H.264 videos in the MP4 format don’t play nice. I’ve always had success with Quicktime H.264.

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  • JoelHW

    +1 for SquareadyV especially if you want to maintain a 16:9 aspect ratio

  • douglas story

    Very frustrated here. It’s crazy annoying that Instagram’s web site doesn’t list the specs required for uploading video, NOR do they seem to have a user forum (well, not that I could find) where users can help one another.

    I keep getting an instant error reading “cannot process this video.”

    After some research I used Final Cut to make my video and exported it with the following specs:

    H.264
    640×640
    29.97 fps
    AAC Audio, 44.1, mono

    And…I still get that same error message! What do they want from me? Aaaargh!

    Btw, I am a professional video editor, and use FCP for 8+ hours every work day, and am accustomed to exporting and converting video to a variety of specs according to the needs of my clients. It’s so very frustrating that there seems to be no way to contact Instagram for tech support. Gee, I wonder who owns this company now…

    • Mike

      worked really easily for me, i saved it as an mp4 though with mpeg streamclip. I use a moto x and sent via regular gmail and saved to phone and voila, upload to IG. just keep messing with the settings until it is 640×640

      • Steve Hlavac

        I agree with Doug, and have the same exact problem. The video is in Dropbox and properly sized, but I cannot for the life of me get it from Dropbox to Instagram!!! And yes, I too edit video for hours at a time on Premiere Pro and After Effects! Talk about making me feel STUPID!!! :D

        To quote your tutorial: “find your video file within the app and save it to your camera roll or gallery.”

        Not to seem dumb, but you should include exactly what a “camera roll” is and how to do this. I have no clue. I tried the *export* feature in Dropbox, but have no idea where to export the vid file to. what folder??? I saved it in both the camera and storage card, but it does NOT come up as an option to load into Instagram…

        Almost ready to give up on this whole thing. Almost… :)

        • drdanger

          I’ve read that Instagram has a maximum bitrate for video in the 1,000 kbps range. Could it be that your exports are much higher than that and thus getting kicked back? [Doing some tests now...]

    • studioscratches

      Hey Douglas I have got it to work in FCPx and use it to post all my videos to instagram, if you send me a message via http://www.studioscratches.com/contact I will email you my template that I use so you can see if that helps – Emma

      • https://zsonic.bandcamp.com ZSonic

        YES!!! thank you!! I’ve had so much frustration with instagram. haha.

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  • Cory Foster

    If you’re using an iPhone, I’ve found that if you export/convert it to a .m4v, you can just email the video to yourself and then save the video to your iPhone from the mail app.

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ShawnWoodsAT/about Shawn W

    I checked this out to make sure h264 was the best, good look on 640x…1:1. Most times I bluetooth beam the videos to my phone for quick upload but find that ig likes an mp4 for the best results.

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