Ever upload a video from your GoPro to YouTube only to find that it looks terrible afterward? You’re not alone. Fortunately, using the right GoPro export settings for your video can do wonders! Read on to find out how.

Anyone who has ever had the above scenario happen to them knows how frustrating it is. Your GoPro footage looks great in editing. Then once it’s live on YouTube, you look on in horror at the pixilated mess it has become.

YouTube can degrade video quality with its compression. That’s even more true for fast pace action camera footage. The prime reason for this comes down to bitrate. That’s why your GoPro export settings matter.

How GoPro export settings make a difference

GoPro Export Settings

Many of us who use GoPro cameras for video are shooting fast action, high pace content. To smoothly render that, the camera records at a high bitrate. What that means for us is that when that bitrate number goes down, so too does the quality of our video.

YouTube has set numbers allowed for bitrate. These numbers are determined by the resolution of the video. The higher the resolution, the higher the bitrate YouTube allows for. For reference, YouTube allows a measly 8 megabytes per second (Mbps) for 1080p videos. The GoPro HERO10 maximum bitrate is 100 Mbps.

When uploading a GoPro video to YouTube at 1080p resolution, YouTube is crushing that 100 Mbps down to 8. This is where changing our GoPro export settings can save the day. Regardless of what settings were selected on the GoPro at the time of filming, we can change our GoPro export settings in post-production to take advantage of YouTube’s bitrate allowances.

Which GoPro export settings are best?

Now that you know why GoPro export settings are important, what can you do to make the most of them? We now know that uploading in 1080p is a bad idea. However, YouTube allows more bitrate for 4K video. YouTube allows for 38–68 Mbps for 4K video. That is much better for the sake of our footage. Adjusting our GoPro export settings will take advantage of that.

If you edit your videos in a program such as DaVinci Resolve, Adobe Premiere or Final Cut, you’ll be able to set the parameters of your video. YouTube has specific things it likes to see. To start with, set the timeline resolution to 4K, or 3840 × 2160. This will allow for exporting a 4K video, even if the GoPro was recording 1080p or 2.7K.

Once you have finished your editing, it will be time to set your GoPro export settings. YouTube prefers MP4 for the container. After that, make sure your audio codec is set to AAC or AAC-LC, and the video codec is H.264.

Lastly, and most important, is resolution and bitrate. For these, make certain that the resolution is set to 4k or 3840 × 2160 again. Then for bitrate, set it no higher than 60 Mbps. If it is higher, YouTube will compress it more and degrade the quality. You also should avoid setting it lower than 40 Mbps. Having the exported video bitrate between those two numbers should see your footage looking great!

Now, enjoy your great GoPro videos on YouTube!

GoPro Export Settings

Now that you have exported your GoPro video, all that’s left is to upload it to YouTube! Using these GoPro export settings will see to it that you no longer end up with grainy, ugly YouTube videos. Now get out there, capture all your fun, and share it with the world!

Editor’s note: We’d like to welcome John Bradford to the team!