Once you begin to consider uploading to different sites, you'll confront a confusing array of format upload choices. Some sites, such as Pond5, accept HDV footage. Most don't. Always HD, requests the original HiDef camera format. Many sites now accept H.264. Istockphoto requires PhotoJPEG or MotionJPEG files sized at 1920 x 1080 with square pixels. What format should you upload and why?
I use only PhotoJPEG and MotionJPEG. Why do I recommend these formats? All the sites accept them and all editors can use them. They are the industry standard. Also, I don't want to replicate efforts and confuse myself. Uploading different formats to different sites is labor intense and requires the creation and storage of multiple files in different format and more record keeping. Avoid it. It gets very confusing very fast. I want to streamline and simplify the process and maximize the results - which I measure in sales. No duplication of efforts. One size, in my case, can fit all.
My recommendations (I'll explain more), are:
- Upload PhotoJPEG.mov if you are shooting progressive. (1)
- Upload MotionJPEG.mov if you are shooting interlaced.
- Upload a 1920 x 1080 file size. (5)
- Use square, not rectangular pixels. (2)
- Set your compression level to somewhere between 75% and 85% as you convert these files to PhotoJPEG or MotionJPEG. (3)
- Unless essential to the clip, don't upload sound.
PhotoJPEG and MotionJPEG create large, stable files with minimal (if any) degradation. Editors love them! Every edit program and even older edit systems can use them. Savvy editors can rename the file ending and drop them in the time-line. The downside, if you are up-converting from a more compressed format like HDV, is these files are huge. Often a 12 second clip will be 200 megabits or more, depending on the level of compression you need. (4) Since I make half my stock sales every month at iStockphoto, I use their requirements as my baseline. I recommend you do to, if you want to sell on multiple sites and streamline your workflow. All the other stock footage sales sites I recommend accept these files.
MotionJPEG is the format for files shot in interlaced, NTSC. For the cleanest, clearest conversion a use program like StreamClip to convert it from it's original format to a 1920 x 1080 files size with square pixels. Don't convert files originating in progressive format using MotionJPEG.
1) mov. is the file ending for Apple Quicktime. mov designates these files are contained within this 'wrapper' or file format. Your files need to be converted and uploaded in .mov format for all the agencies.
2) How can you quickly tell if your existing file is in square or rectangular pixels? Drop the clip into your timeline and/or open up the timeline and check it in properties or attributes. Clips as square pixels will have a Pixel Aspect Ratio: (1.0) and rectangular reading (1.33).
3) When you convert your file from it's native format to PhotoJPEG or MotionJPEG, you'll need use a conversion program such as Streamclip. Streamclip is free and works on both the Mac and PCs. Although the JPEG format is not as good at carrying image quality as other formats, it's the format accepted at all significant sales sites.
Click for larger image.
4) If you up-convert at 100%, you'll create giant files full of more information than anyone needs. Don't do it! This will increase your upload time. Depending on the level of detail/motion in the file, conversion from 80% compression to 90% is recommended. Although there is some discussion concerning just when the data begins to become redundant, I usually compress at around 80% to 90%.
5) This frame size is the requirement for iStockphoto. (I recommend you register and upload there.) All my recommended sites accept this file size, and it's transparent to end users. Since you want to streamline your workflow, only upload one size to all the recommended sites.
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Drop me a line - I answer all questions. Good luck!