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Video Bitrate: How to Choose the Ideal Bitrate for Your Video

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Video Bitrate: How to Choose the Ideal Bitrate for Your Video

When it comes to video quality, bitrate is just as important as resolution. 

So before you upload a video to YouTube or live stream on Twitch, it’s important to know what a good bitrate is. 

Don’t worry, though; this article has got you covered. 

We’ll go into what bitrate is, why it matters, and the bitrate to choose for uploading and streaming to different social media platforms.

What is video bitrate?

Video bitrate is the amount of video data or information processed or transferred per second. 

A video’s bitrate is an important factor in determining the quality of a video. The higher the bitrate, the more video information is conveyed per second, resulting in a higher quality video.

For example, a high bitrate during streaming means that the video will be more crisp and clear since more video information is being uploaded every second. Also, if the user has a good download speed, the bitrate on the user end will be faster, as more video information is downloaded every second. 

Bits are the basic building blocks of information in a video. So bitrate is usually measured in bits/second; however, prefixes like kilo, mega, or tera are often used. 1 Kilobit is 1000 bits/s, and 1 Megabit is 1000 Kilobits/second. 

Types of bitrate

There are two types of bitrate

1. Constant Bitrate (CBR):

A constant bitrate means that the bitrate will be consistent throughout the entire playback of the video. 

A downside to CBR is that the quality of the video in certain sections, especially those that are information-rich, will suffer. This is because with CBR, the amount of video information transferred in each section is the same at all times. 

Constant bitrate is great for live streaming as the video will stream without buffering. 

2. Variable Bitrate (VBR):

Here, the video quality is high since the bitrate fluctuates depending on how much information is transmitted in each section of the video. 

VBR is not so great for live streaming but works well for on-demand video as higher video quality is required for such videos. 

Why is it important to choose the right bitrate?

Bitrate is an important factor when it comes to video quality. Higher bitrate = better video quality (as more video bits of information get transferred). 

Unfortunately, a high bitrate isn’t always ideal, especially when streaming a video. If your bitrate exceeds your upload speed or the viewer’s download speed, then the video stream will stutter, buffer, or cut out entirely. And this may cause viewers to tune out of your stream. 

Don't worry if you don't know what bitrate to choose for your video; we’ll cover this in detail later in the article.

Other important factors that affect video quality

In addition to bitrate, two other factors influence video quality — frame rate and resolution.

Frame rate – Each video is a series of still images that combine to make the video. Frame rate is the speed at which each image is shown per second. 

So if you see the term 24 fps, it means that 24 frames or images are shown each second. 

A frame rate of 24 fps is recommended for movies, whereas 30-60 fps is better for live streaming. Here’s a more in-depth guide to frame rate that’ll help you understand the concept more fully.  

Resolution – The resolution is the number of pixels in a video. In short, more pixels leads to better video quality. 

If you want to shoot a video in high resolution and upload it to YouTube or any other platform, Riverside is a fantastic option. It is capable of recording in 4K and also allows you to stream on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch simultaneously. 

File format (compressed vs uncompressed) – Compressing a file to reduce its size often reduces video quality. This is especially the case if you’re using a lossy compressor. Lossless video compression is supposed to preserve quality more.

How to choose the best video bitrate for your video

As we mentioned before, a higher bit rate isn’t always better. Also, different platforms have different bitrate requirements. 

Frame rate and resolution also factor into bitrate. If you want to figure out the right bitrate for your video, you can use any one of the calculators below. 

In these calculators, you can enter your desired fps and resolution to find out the ideal bitrate for a video. Some calculators are more advanced and allow you to calculate bitrate based on the codec type and file size as well. 

Below are recommended bitrates for different platforms. 

YouTube

SDR video upload

  • 2160p (4K) with 60 fps: 53-68 Mbps
  • 2160p (4K) with 30 fps: 35-45 Mbps
  • 1440p (2K) with 60 fps:24 Mbps
  • 1440p (2K) with 30 fps: 16 Mbps
  • 1080p (HD) with 60 fps: 12 Mbps
  • 1080p (HD) with 30 fps: 8 Mbps
  • 720p with 60 fps: 7.5 Mbps
  • 720p with 30 fps: 5 Mbps
  • 480p with 60 fps: 4 Mbps
  • 480p with 30 fps: 2.5 Mbps
  • 360p with 60 fps:1.5 Mbps
  • 360p with 30 fps: 1 Mbps

HDR video upload

  • 2160p (4K) with 60 fps: 66-85 Mbps
  • 2160p (4K) with 30 fps: 44-56 Mpbs
  • 1440p (2K) with 60 fps: 30 Mbps
  • 1440p (2K) with 30 fps: 20 Mbps
  • 1080p (HD) with 60 fps: 15 Mbps
  • 1080p (HD) with 30 fps: 10 Mbps
  • 720p with 60 fps: 9.5 Mbps
  • 720p with 30 fps: 6.5 Mbps

Vimeo

For Vimeo, the recommendations are the same as those of YouTube. 

Facebook

Once again, you can follow YouTube’s recommendations when uploading videos to Facebook. However, for streaming, we recommend a bitrate between 3 to 6 Mbps.  

Twitter

Twitter recommends that you keep the bitrate at 5 Mbps when uploading to its platform. 

Instagram

For Instagram, the recommended bitrate is 3.5 Mbps. 

Twitch

For Twitch, the ideal bitrate for Twitch is as below:

  • 1080p (HD) with 60 fps: 6 Mbps
  • 1080p (HD) with 30 fps: 4.5 Mbps
  • 720p with 60 fps: 4.5 Mbps
  • 720p with 30 fps: 3 Mbps

How to change your video bitrate

Is most video editors, you can change the video bitrate in the export settings window. Here you can also choose from other options like frame rate, resolution, and video codec. 

How can you measure the video bitrate

Checking the video bitrate for any video is simple. Here are the different ways you can do so for each platform. 

How to measure bitrate on Windows

  1. Go to the video file, right-click the file, and click on Properties
  2. In the following window, click on the Details tab.
  3. In the Details tab, there’s a section called Video. There you can find the overall bitrate of the video. 

Keep in mind that this won’t show you how a video’s bitrate changes over the course of the video. To find out that information, you will need to use an app like VLC, which we’ll explain how to use below. 

How to measure variable bitrate on VLC

  1. Open up the video with VLC.
  2. Click on the Tools menu
  3. Next, click on Media Information.
  4. In the window that appears, click on Statistics. The bitrate for the current section of the video will be listed next to Content bitrate

How to measure bitrate on Mac

  1. Open the video file with Quick Time Player. 
  1. Once the video is opened, press 'Command+I'. Data Rate should tell you what the video's bitrate is. 

FAQs on Video Bitrate

What should be the bitrate for a 1080p video?

In general, the ideal bitrate for a 1080p video should be 8-12 Mbps for an SDR video and 10-15 Mbps for an HDR video. 

What is a good bitrate for 720p?

In general, the ideal bitrate for a 720p video should be 5-7.5 Mbps for an SDR video and 6.5-9.5 Mbps for an HDR video. 

Is 6000 bitrate too high?

A bitrate of 6 Mbps is fine, especially if you plan to upload to platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo. 

For Twitch, 6 Mbps is the upper limit of acceptable bitrate.

For Twitter and Instagram, 6 Mbps is a high bitrate — the ideal bitrate for each platform is 5 Mbps and 3.5 Mbps, respectively. 

What is a good YouTube 4K bitrate?

The ideal bitrate for YouTube 4K varies. For SDR uploads, the suggested bitrate is 35-45 Mbps for 24 fps, and 53-68 Mbps for 60 fps.

For HDR uploads, the recommended bitrate is 44-56 Mbps for 30 fps, and 66-85 Mbps for High frame rates. 

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