Generic, cross-platform instructions for converting your fan video to a high quality file (for YouTube or for sharing online).

We’ve got a lot of tutorials on the Foolish Passion fan video forums for converting your finished video to a good quality file for sharing online. I strongly urge you to sign up and see what we’ve got there. There are tutorials for Mac and PC. However, here’s an attempt to give “generic” instructions that will produce pretty decent results with most editing software. It’s not necessarily as good as what some of the FP fan video forum tutorials show, but it will get you started down the right path.

There are two steps to this tutorial. First, make a DV file. (DV MOV for Mac, DV AVI for Windows). Then you will open this DV file in another program (MPEG Streamclip) to make your final “web ready” video.

STEP ONE: Finish your video and EXPORT IT OUT AS DV.

Exporting out as DV in Corel VideoStudio. Pick the aspect ratio that fits your video project (often this will be 16:9). If you pick the wrong aspect ratio, don’t worry about it—you can fix it in MPEG Streamclip.

Exporting as DV AVI in Sony Vegas. Save as type “Video for Windows” then select DV from the drop-down menu. (If you know your video is widescreen, select “DV Widescreen,” but don’t worry if you get this wrong—it can be fixed in MPEG Streamclip later.

If you are confused as to whether to choose NTSC or PAL, select NTSC. (It may not be necessary, but it won’t hurt anything).

In iMovie 09, go to “Share >> Export Using Quicktime” and select “Movie to DV Stream.” Leave the settings iMovie comes up with at default (if it says you have 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio, leave it like that).

There is a more detailed export tutorial for HD video in iMovie on this page. (Works with both iMovie 6 and iMovie 09.)

For iMovie 6, go to “File >> Export” and export as “Full Quality.” This will make a .dv file.

If you are using some other video editing software, look for the option which lets you export as DV. (Or an AVI or MOV with the DV codec.)

PLEASE NOTE: When you play your DV file in Quicktime or Windows Media Player, the quality may not look as nice, or it may look “squished.” THIS DOES NOT NECESSARILY SIGNIFY ANYTHING. What matters is how it looks after you have converted it to an MP4 file in MPEG Streamclip!

STEP TWO: Download and install MPEG Streamclip. (Free for both Mac and PC.)

You’re going to convert your DV file to an H.264 MP4 file. H.264 MP4 has superior quality, is easy to create in MPEG Streamclip, and now H.264 is recognized natively in the latest version of Windows Media Player (for Windows 7) so H.264 is the future! Woop woop!

Open your DV file in MPEG Streamclip. Go to “File >> Open File,” locate your DV file on your hard drive, and select it. Your DV file will open in MPEG Streamclip.

Then to export it as an MP4 file, go to “File >> Export to MPEG-4”

You’ll see this familiar window.

For good quality, choose H.264 as your compression. Check the “Limit Data Rate” box and type in 4000 (for best quality). If you want to go a little lower, that’s fine, but a data rate below 1000 might not look so great on YouTube.

Sound should be MPEG-4 AAC, choose 128 kbps or above.

There are two other areas of interest that you should pay particular attention to:


First, deinterlacing: If you notice weird “line” things through your video, check this box. Otherwise, don’t. It’s that simple. Read more about interlacing (and see a sample of what it looks like). Do not check the deinterlacing box if you see no “weird lines” in your video. To do so would needlessly degrade quality just a little.

Now, frame size. You see in the above screenshot that the two top settings are highlighted. These are the only two that you should be using. When you convert a DV file to something else, DO NOT check “unscaled.” IT WILL ALWAYS LOOK BAD. (Either squashed down and too fat, or squished and elongated.)

Select the frame size for 16:9 (the frame size will say “16:9” by it) if your source clips (what you used to make your video) are more rectangular in shape. If your clips are more boxy, choose the frame size which is “4:3” by it.

Here are some examples of different frame dimensions.

If your source clips look like this (more rectangular), select the frame size for 16:9 (widescreen).

Unless you have Windows 7 (as seen in this screenshot) open your source clips in a media player like VLC Player or Quicktime. Windows Media Player in previous versions of Windows may not show the total frame border of your clips very well.

A fullscreen (4:3) video. If your source DVD or source clips have a more “boxy” shape, select the frame size for 4:3.

The big exception to the whole “rectangular vs. boxy clips” rule: Your video used widescreen clips, but you set up your video project as fullscreen. Your video might look like this.  (With black letterbox bars at the top and bottom.) If that is the case, it’s probably fullscreen, so pick the frame size which has the “4:3” next to it.

There are some exceptions to the guidelines I’ve given, so to learn more about frame sizes (aspect ratio), read this tutorial.

Selecting frame size can be tricky (but it needn’t be if you set up your project correctly to begin with). The guidelines I’ve given you will probably work most of the time. Again, to learn more about frame sizes (aspect ratio) read this tutorial.

Sometimes a DV AVI (or DV MOV) file can look “squished” (elongated) when you open it in MPEG Streamclip or some other media player. But that’s okay, because you can select a different frame size to “unsquish” it as you convert it to an MP4 (or H.264 MOV, or iPod) file.

Okay, to recap, you’ve decided to pick the “deinterlace” box if you see those weird lines in your video (or you didn’t choose to deinterlace if you don’t see them). And you’ve picked either the frame size for 4:3 or 16:9.

It’s time to save your video and export it out of MPEG Streamclip. Click on the “Make MP4” button and wait for MPEG Streamclip to convert your video to a high quality MP4 file.

All done!

A final note: The overall quality of your finished video very much depends on what kind of clips you used for editing. This page helps you understand that what you put into your editing software very much affects how good (or how bad) your finished video can look.

For using MPEG Streamclip to convert your ripped DVD to editable AVI or MOV files, read this tutorial.

Tutorial keywords: MPEG Streamclip, converting your fan video for YouTube, aspect ratio, vidding tutorial, fanvids, vids.