Best Instagram Reels Settings [2024] - Resolution, Framerate & More!

🤳To optimize Instagram Reels for maximum engagement and quality, I recommend using an MP4 file format with H.264 video codec and AAC audio codec. You should aim for a resolution of 1080x1920 pixels (9:16 aspect ratio) and a bitrate of 4 Mbps, while keeping in mind that the sweet spot for duration, especially for informative videos, is around 44 seconds.

April 7, 2024
Best Instagram Reels Settings [2024] - Resolution, Framerate & More!
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Best Settings For Instagram Reels

If you're a beginner diving into the world of short-form video content, Instagram Reels is an absolute must-know platform. With TikTok, Reddit and YouTube Shorts as its only real competitor, these platforms dominate the mobile app landscape. But let's zero in on Instagram Reels, shall we?

What are Instagram Reels?

Templates for Instagram Reels
Here are some popular Instagram Reel templates

For all the fellow boomers out there....

Born from the ashes of TikTok's meteoric rise in 2020, Instagram Reels carved out its own niche as a leading platform for bite-sized video content. Over time, Instagram has extended the initial video length from 15 seconds to a full minute as of 2023, giving creators more time to express themselves. [TikTok's influence: TikTok was a pioneer in short-form, vertical video content, compelling Instagram to innovate with the Reels feature.]

Getting started with Reels is like walking into a digital video studio right on your phone. Once you're in the Reels video editor inside your Instagram app, you have a plethora of tools at your disposal: multi-clip videos, special effects, audio, and more. Each feature serves a purpose.

  1. Multi-Clip Videos: This allows you to stitch together multiple scenes into a seamless narrative. Instead of one continuous 60-second shot, you can shoot in smaller clips and assemble them. [Think of this like digital scrapbooking but with video segments.]
  2. Special Effects: Instagram's special effects range from cute facial filters to intricate CGI-like animations that make your Reels pop. These effects can elevate an otherwise ordinary video into something eye-catching.
  3. Audio: Whether it's your own voice or licensed music from Instagram's extensive library, audio adds another layer to your storytelling. [Audio can create mood, emphasize points, or even become the main focus of your video.]

iPhone Settings For High Quality Instagram Reels

First things first, let's ensure your videos are compatible with most editing software.

HDR 

SDR vs HDR

On your iPhone, navigate to Settings, then find Camera. Under Camera, there’s an option called Record Video. Here, you'll see HDR Video - make sure this is turned off. Why? HDR (High Dynamic Range) can enhance the quality, but it's not universally compatible with all editing tools. By turning it off, you avoid potential compatibility issues.

Selecting the Right Frame Rate and Resolution

Now, let's pick the best frame rate and resolution. Back in the Record Video menu, you'll find different options for video quality. For dynamic, movement-rich videos, select 4k at 60 frames per second (fps). Here's how: Tap on 4k at 60 fps. This setting gives your videos a smooth look, ideal for handling any shakiness during recording. If you prefer a more cinematic or natural feel, you might try 24fps or 30fps in other scenarios. Remember, 4k videos consume more storage, but with iCloud or Google Photos, you can save space by uploading them to the cloud.

Enabling High Efficiency for Advanced Video Formats: For capturing high-quality videos like cinematic videos or 4k at 60fps, your iPhone needs to be set to High Efficiency. This is found in the same Camera settings under Formats. High Efficiency uses the HEVC format (High Efficiency Video Coding), which allows for better quality at smaller file sizes, essential for these advanced video formats.

Visualizing the Process

Imagine you’re holding your iPhone, ready to film. You’ll tap on the Settings icon (usually a gear icon on your home screen). Scroll down until you see Camera and tap it. Now, you're in the hub where magic happens. Under Record Video, you see a list of options like a menu at a restaurant. Each option affects the final taste of your video. You select 4k at 60 fps for that smooth, buttery feel in your videos. It's like choosing the chef's special - a bit more storage-consuming, but worth it for the quality.

Professional Insight

In the world of video editing, understanding and choosing the right settings before filming is crucial. It's like prepping your canvas before painting. By selecting the appropriate frame rate and resolution, and ensuring compatibility with editing tools, you lay the groundwork for a smooth post-production process. In post-production, using tools like After Effects, you can enhance colors, lighting, and even adjust timing. Each setting you chose during filming, like the frame rate, plays a pivotal role in how you manipulate these elements in post-production.

Video Formats

Here is the image representing MP4 as the preferred format for Instagram Reels, visualized as a digital "container" holding video and audio in high quality. The design symbolizes the versatility and efficiency of the MP4 format.

What you upload is crucial, but equally important is how you do it. The file format you should aim for is MP4, which stands as the gold standard for Instagram Reels.

Why MP4, you ask? First off, MP4 is renowned for its versatility. This format retains high-quality visuals and audio, all while maintaining a relatively small file size. In the world of Instagram Reels where every pixel counts, you'll want a format that allows your creation to shine in its full glory. [MP4: Think of this as the digital "container" that holds your video and audio together in high quality.]

Video Codes

For Instagram Reels, H.264 is the go-to video codec and AAC is the audio codec of choice.

Why H.264 for Video?

H.264 compared to MPEG4

H.264 is not just any video codec; it's a widely used format recognized for its efficiency and quality. [A codec, short for coder-decoder, is essentially a program that compresses and decompresses video and audio data.] H.264 stands out for its ability to maintain video quality while significantly reducing the file size, which is crucial when you're uploading content to a platform where speed and smooth playback are key. Industry standards, backed by years of rigorous testing, substantiate the advantages of using H.264. For a tutorial on how to adjust the codec in DaVinci Resolve, read more here.

Why AAC for Audio?

On the audio front, AAC (Advanced Audio Codec) takes the cake. Much like H.264, AAC is known for its superior quality and smaller file size. It's designed to deliver crisp, clear audio, a must when you're trying to capture your audience's attention in a noisy digital landscape. [AAC is favored for its ability to deliver a wide range of audio frequencies, making your soundtrack as vibrant as your visuals.]

Aspect Ratio/Resolution

One key technical detail stands out like a lighthouse for any creator—resolution and aspect ratio. In layman's terms, these numbers determine how your video will look on the screen. Instagram Reels are built for vertical consumption, tailored specifically for smartphone screens. The golden numbers you're looking for are 1080x1920 pixels, which forms an aspect ratio of 9:16.

Pixels and Aspect Ratio, Simplified

  1. 1080x1920 Pixels: This may seem like tech jargon, but it's relatively straightforward. Pixels are the tiny dots that make up a digital image. In this case, your video should be 1080 pixels wide and 1920 pixels tall. [Imagine a grid: 1080 columns across and 1920 rows down.]
  2. Aspect Ratio of 9:16: The aspect ratio is essentially the shape of your video. In this case, it means the width (9) to the height (16). A 9:16 ratio ensures your video perfectly fills the vertical space on a smartphone screen without awkward black bars on the top or bottom. [It's like making sure a picture perfectly fits into a frame.]

Why These Numbers Matter

Choosing the right resolution isn't just a whim; it's an industry-standard backed by exhaustive analytics. Numerous user experience studies confirm that viewers engage more with 9:16 videos on mobile platforms. A poor aspect ratio or low resolution could result in your video getting less engagement or visibility, a crucial point underscored by social media marketing reports and best practice guides.

Best Bitrate for Instagram Reels

Instagram reels button

Contrary to popular belief, Instagram reels bitrate matters!

If you're planning on uploading a 15-second HD video to Reels, you're looking at a file size under 15Mb. Now, why is this crucial? Well, lower file sizes generally upload faster and buffer less when someone is watching, making for a smoother viewer experience. [Buffering is that annoying pause when a video stops to load more content.]

What Is Bitrate?

Most people don't know what this even is. The term 'bitrate' often throws people off, but think of it as the video's quality setting. In essence, a higher bitrate equals better quality. The catch? The higher the quality, the bigger the file. Instagram suggests a 4 Mbps bitrate for Reels. [Mbps means 'Megabits per second,' a measure of data transfer speed.] This figure isn't pulled out of thin air; it's grounded in real-world user experiences and extensive analytics. The 4 Mbps recommendation serves as a balanced act between maintaining high video quality and ensuring the file isn't too large for speedy uploading and smooth playback.

Adjusting Bitrate

When you're in your video editing software, adjusting the bitrate is often as easy as navigating to the export settings and entering a number for the bitrate. Whether you're using Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, or even a basic editor like iMovie, look for settings related to 'bitrate' or 'export quality.'

If you're keen on maximizing quality, you might be tempted to crank up that bitrate. However, remember the 15Mb cap for a 15-second video. The higher you push the bitrate, the larger the file size becomes, potentially making it too cumbersome for a seamless Instagram upload.

The table below shows more info about Instagram reel bitrate. It also includes the maximum bitrate for Instagram reels.

Bitrate (Mbps) File Size for 15s Video (Mb) Quality Recommended
2 ~3.75 Low No
3 ~5.62 Medium No
4 ~7.5 High Yes
5 ~9.37 Very High No
6 ~11.25 Maximum No

Duration

TL;DR - Forget duration, it has very little to do with the performance of your video. Viewer retention is a viral factor, however if you're able to entertain your views all the way to the end of your video, don't worry if your video is 'too long.'

Duration wise, numerous studies have shown that shorter reels perform bests, however these videos are mostly memes and sexual/attention grabbing content (girls showing their tits to promote their only fans for instance). For more informative videos, 44 seconds is the sweet spot. You should also consider splitting longer, more informative videos into two separate parts - this could improve your overall account activity. That said, just because 44 seconds has been shown to perform the best according to experiments, it doesn't necessarily mean that your video will not perform well just because it is not around that duration mark and vise versa. There are several other more significant factors that go into consideration when determining the engagement (and ultimately performance) of an Instagram reel. Most of these factors only have little connection to the duration of your video. So to sum it up, this only means that a majority of videos that have the 'optimal performance' structure end at around 44 seconds.

Forgive me for my language in the final paragraph 😂

How To Retain Quality When Uploading To Instagram

The evolution of iPhone models, for instance, from iPhone 8 to iPhone 15, showcases significant advancements in video technology. The newer models come equipped with superior camera sensors, advanced image stabilization, and improved low-light performance. These enhancements contribute to a substantial upgrade in video quality. For example, the iPhone 15 might offer features like a larger sensor for better light capture, more sophisticated autofocus capabilities, and higher dynamic range, all of which contribute to more vivid and professional-looking videos.

Benefits of Upgrading Your Device

Upgrading to a newer model like the iPhone 15 not only improves the visual quality but also introduces new video features like cinematic modes, ProRes video recording, and more advanced HDR options. These features allow for greater creativity and flexibility in video recording, enabling you to capture footage that rivals that of professional cameras.

Optimizing the Filming Process with Your Smartphone

When filming with your smartphone, using the native camera app instead of third-party apps like Instagram is advisable. This approach offers several advantages:

  1. Access to Full Camera Capabilities: The native camera app is designed to leverage all the hardware capabilities of your phone, unlike Instagram’s in-app camera which might have limitations.
  2. Customizable Settings: You have the flexibility to adjust various settings such as exposure, focus, and white balance, which can significantly enhance the quality of your videos.
  3. Selection of Advanced Modes: Many smartphones offer specialized modes like slow-motion, time-lapse, or cinematic video modes in their native camera apps, which might not be available in third-party apps.

Adjusting Camera Settings for Optimal Quality

Before filming, ensure you have adjusted key settings like turning off HDR (High Dynamic Range) to ensure compatibility with different platforms and choosing the right frame rate and resolution for your project. For instance, 60fps (frames per second) is excellent for capturing fast movements smoothly, while a 4K resolution ensures high-detail video quality.

Maximizing Instagram Video Quality

To preserve the quality of your videos when uploading to Instagram, it's crucial to enable high-quality uploads. Here's a detailed guide:

  1. Accessing the Setting: Open the Instagram app, go to your profile, and tap on the hamburger menu in the top right corner.
  2. Navigating to Settings: Choose “Settings and privacy,” then proceed to “Data usage and media quality.”
  3. Activating High-Quality Uploads: Look for the “Upload at highest quality” option and toggle it on. This action ensures that your videos are uploaded in the best possible quality, reducing the risk of compression artifacts that can degrade the video.

The Importance of This Setting

Activating this setting is especially important if you are aiming to maintain the high quality of your footage. Instagram, by default, compresses videos to optimize for platform performance and data usage. By enabling high-quality uploads, you minimize this compression, ensuring that your followers view your content as intended, with the best possible clarity and detail.

Fine-Tuning Export Settings for Instagram

adjusting instagram video settings

Resolution Settings

When it comes to resolution, the standard recommendation from Instagram is 1080 pixels x 1920 pixels. This is because this resolution matches the native display of most mobile devices, ensuring that your content looks crisp and clear when viewed on a phone. However, if you're looking to push the boundaries of quality, exporting in 2k or 4k resolution can provide even sharper and more detailed visuals. These higher resolutions, particularly beneficial for content with intricate details or scenic landscapes, can make your reels stand out.

Keep in mind that higher resolutions mean larger file sizes. While Instagram's High-Quality Uploads feature can handle these larger files, your viewers' device capabilities and internet speeds can affect playback. If your audience reports issues like buffering or if you notice compression artifacts, scaling down to the standard 1080p resolution can help.

Frame Rate Considerations for Smoother Playback

Instagram's default frame rate suggestion is 30fps, which offers a balance between smooth motion and file size. However, filming and exporting at 60fps can significantly enhance the fluidity of your videos, making fast-moving scenes or action shots look smoother. This is particularly noticeable in videos with a lot of movement, like dance or sports reels.

The trade-off for using a higher frame rate like 60fps is an increase in file size, which could impact upload times and data usage for both you and your viewers. If you choose to film and export in 60fps, make sure to keep your export settings consistent with your filming settings to avoid any frame rate conversion issues, which can result in stutter or judder in your video.

Bitrate: Balancing Quality and File Size

Bitrate is a critical factor in determining video quality. It measures the amount of data used per second in your video. A higher bitrate generally means better video quality, as more data can capture more detail and less compression artifacts. For Instagram Reels, a bitrate range of 5-15mbps is recommended. This range provides a good balance between maintaining video quality and keeping file sizes manageable for both uploading and streaming.

Different editing apps, like CapCut, offer preset options for bitrate, often labeled as ‘recommended’. These presets are designed to optimize quality for common sharing platforms like Instagram. However, if you're well-versed in video editing, you can experiment with manually setting the bitrate to fine-tune the balance between quality and file size based on your specific video content.

Video and Audio Codec Compatibility

The video codec is essentially the software that compresses and decompresses your video file. For Instagram, the widely accepted and compatible format is h.264. This codec is efficient in balancing high video quality with relatively lower file sizes, making it ideal for online sharing.

For audio, the aac codec is commonly used and ensures that your audio quality is preserved during the compression process. It's crucial to note that these codec settings might not be adjustable in all editing apps. However, many modern video editing tools automatically use these codecs as they are industry standards for social media platforms.