Instagram is notorious for destroying the quality of videos posted to your feed. You spend all this time editing a video in Premiere Pro, Resolve or whatever only to have it destroyed by recompression algorithms. It actually puts many people off posting videos to the platform at all. But all is not lost.
Filmmaker and YouTuber Daniel Schiffer believes he’s cracked the problem. And looking at his Instagram, it seems that he may have done just that. He doesn’t look to be having quality issues at all. In this video, Daniel walks us through his process from the rendering on the desktop to pushing it out on Instagram.
Daniel’s process is fairly straightforward.
- Create everything in a 4K UHD timeline in your editing application (if you’re shooting 1080p, upscale it)
- Reduce the contrast and lift the shadows before you grade
- Export as 4K UHD h.264 to your hard drive
- Transfer it to your phone using a method that doesn’t recompress the video
- Post to Instagram as normal
Number 1 (along with #3) is a trick that used to (maybe it still does) work with Youtube, too. You would upscale your 1080p video to 4K and upload it. This forces YouTube to use a much higher bit rate thus giving a higher quality final result. YouTube suggests 8Mbps for 1080p yet 35-45Mbps for 4K. Even though it’s precisely 4 times the resolution, the bit rate is potentially up to 5 times as high which is why you get lower overall compression and better detail.
Now, with Instagram, your final videos are not 4K. But a similar trick may work by offering the platform more resolution and bitrate to start with before it compresses it down to the final video.
The second part of the process isn’t an obvious one, but I’ve seen this on other platforms, too. Bad compression can completely destroy detail in the shadows, sending them to black or a dark splodgy mess quite easily. Raising up those shadows to introduce a little light helps to retain that detail when Instagram recompresses it.
Number 4 is where a lot of people get caught off guard. Some methods of transferring videos from the desktop to your mobile device will recompress the file before you can even post it. Emailing them to yourself is a prime example. These will typically be compressed in order to make it easier for people to download and watch straight from within the email.
Daniel suggests a number of methods to transfer files from the desktop to your phone without losing any data.
- Mac to iOS – Use AirDrop straight from the desktop to your phone
- Mac to Android – Use DropBox or Wetransfer
- Windows/Linux to iOS – Use the VLC App and enable “Sharing via WiFi”, then drag & drop through a web browser
- Windows to Android – Just use a USB cable and transfer the file as you would to a USB stick
These aren’t the only ways to transfer the video directly to your phone without recompression, though. On Windows, Linux, iOS and Android devices, I use Resilio Sync. It’s a peer-to-peer version of something like Dropbox, essentially. There are no servers, all transfers are direct from one device to another. So, you don’t have to wait for things to upload to the Internet and then download back down to your other devices. It just transfers out to them all over WiFi or whatever signal you have available.
Once the video is on your phone, just post as you normally would, and you should see it posted with better quality than you’ve seen in the past.