How to Export HD Video to YouTube in Premiere Pro 2017

First, watch my tutorial:

YouTube video player works in a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is standard for 1280x720p HD, 1920x1080p HD, as well as 3840 × 2160 UHD4k. But if you have video that is not 16:9, such as (4:3, Traditional Television, 480p SD) it will process black bars on the left and right. These bars are popularly known as pillar boxes. It very rare that you will see pillar boxes on new videos on YouTube, but if you watch any videos from the 90s you will see the pillar boxes. (see screenshots below).

When I export for YouTube I use Premiere Pro’s “YouTube 1080p HD” preset as I work in 1080p HD, but there are also four other YouTube Presets depending on the resolution of your video footage.

The presets will automatically adjust the bitrate, audio codec and video codec to match the ideal settings for YouTube uploads. But If you want to export from scratch, without using the presets here is my recommended settings for 1080p HD: 

Export Settings:

  • Format: H.264
  • Preset: Custom

Video Tab: 

  • Basic Video Settings >
    • Video Width: 1920 
    • Video Height: 1080
    • Video Frame Rate: 24 fps. It’s recommended that content should be encoded and uploaded in the same frame rate it was recorded in. Most common frame rates are 24,25,30,50, 60 fps (frames per second).
    • Field Order: Progressive
    • Aspect: Square Pixels 1.0
    • Profile:  High
    • Level: 4.2
  • Video Bitrate Settings> Bitrate corresponds to video quality and the file size. Higher the bit rate, the higher image quality in video output. 
    • Video Bit Rate Encoding: Select VBR (Variable bit rate), 2 pass (1st pass analyzes, second pass executes compression. It takes longer and can determine which areas of the video need more compression. Overall, the image quality will be higher with VBR 2 Pass. You can still select VBR, 1 pass if you do not have the time. But if you worked hard on a product, use VBR 2 Pass to ensure best quality. 
    • Target Bit Rate: 8 megabits. (Target is the rate you want the video to conform to). The lower the target bit rate, the smaller the file size. You don't want to go below 8 for YouTube. Stay between 8 and 16. 
    • Maximum Bit Rate: 16 megabits (Maximum bitrate is the highest data rate it is allowed to go. )
    • Note:. While no bitrate limit is required, this YouTube help article outlines bitrates for SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) and HDR (High Dynamic Range) upload. 

Audio Tab:

  • Basic Audio Settings>
    • Audio Codec: AAC (Advanced Audio Coding)
    • Audio Sample Rate: 48000 HZ
    • Channels: Stereo
    • Audio Quality: High
  • Bitrate Settings >
    • Bitrate [kbps]: 320 kbps  (kilobits)
    • Advanced Settings: Select "Bitrate" 

You can also auto-publish to YouTube by selecting the “Publish” tab within Premiere Pro’s export settings. Once you select the check mark next to “YouTube,” click on “Log in” to connect your YouTube account to Premiere Pro’s exporter. You will be able to select the video’s privacy, create comma separated tags, and a description. You can also opt to delete the local file after upload. 

Lastly, before you his export, make sure to update the video file’s name and set the destination folder by clicking on the blue hyper-link next to “Output Name.”  That's it!