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[2023] Best Instagram Reels Settings - Resolution, Framerate & More!

šŸ¤³To 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.

September 10, 2023
[2023] Best Instagram Reels Settings - 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 two platforms dominate the mobile app landscape. But let's zero in on Instagram Reels, shall we?


What are Instagram Reels?

For all the 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.]


Video Formats

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 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.

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.]

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Aspect Ratio/Resolution

One key technical detail stands out like a lighthouse for any creatorā€”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

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



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).Ā 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 engagementĀ (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 šŸ˜‚

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