Stop Instagram from ruining your videos with this easy technique

Jun 20, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Stop Instagram from ruining your videos with this easy technique

Jun 20, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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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.

  1. Create everything in a 4K UHD timeline in your editing application (if you’re shooting 1080p, upscale it)
  2. Reduce the contrast and lift the shadows before you grade
  3. Export as 4K UHD h.264 to your hard drive
  4. Transfer it to your phone using a method that doesn’t recompress the video
  5. 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.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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8 responses to “Stop Instagram from ruining your videos with this easy technique”

  1. Aankhen Avatar
    Aankhen

    Ugh. Steps 1–3 make me cringe. I really don’t want to believe they’re necessary, but I guess the results speak for themselves.

    Re: transferring files, I recommend Send Anywhere. It’s available almost anywhere and it does the transfer-over-Wi-fi-if-possible thing.

    1. Chris Yahya Avatar
      Chris Yahya

      umm it uses internet.. better use airdroid. using local wifi speed only. no internet required. no wasted datas.

  2. RadianceVision Avatar
    RadianceVision

    Thanks for sharing useful information about this email marketing tool aweber. You have explained it very well. Hope it will help me too. Thanks for sharing!
    Radiance vision group |
    Digital Marketing

  3. Auður Avatar
    Auður

    I have tried this and many other methods, yet my video always ends up playing with a regular, pulsing stutter. Any ideas on how I can get around this??

    1. Auður Avatar
      Auður

      I should clarify: the stuttering only happens once it’s uploaded to Instagram – original file plays smoothly

  4. bong_toker_ Avatar
    bong_toker_

    THIS ADVICE IS SO STUPID — INSTAGRAMS MAXIMUM DIMENSIONS ARE 1080 X 1080 — DON’T LISTEN TO THIS IDIOT, HE HASN’T EVEN TESTED THIS TECHNIQUE AND BLINDLY SUGGESTS IT WILL WORK — AUTHOR IS LAME

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      Your caps lock key is broken.

  5. Cindy Castelblanco Avatar
    Cindy Castelblanco

    What about if you just want to post a regular 10 second video taken on your iPhone unedited.. nothing fancy just my something like walking my dog or a show I saw.. what can be done so instagram uploads it in better quality