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Creating content on iOS and Android devices is incredibly simple using our free EnsembleLive Mobile app. But what about content that was produced by the mobile device’s native camera app? You can use those videos too!  Here are a few tips for working with content from mobile devices.

The Ensemble Video version 4+ web interface is responsive; it’s meant to work perfectly whether you’re on your desktop computer or using your tablet or phone. You can upload content directly to Ensemble from all of these devices. When creating videos on a mobile device, the recording orientation becomes an important consideration. Web-based video players usually look best in landscape (16×9 widescreen) mode, but most of us hold our mobile devices—especially our phones—in portrait (9×16 tall) mode. If you can frame your shot using your phone or tablet in the widescreen orientation, your viewers will thank you.

Sometimes, the recording orientation of your phone just seems right in tall/portrait mode—or maybe you already have content that was created like this. If you upload this 9×16 content to Ensemble, you’ll find that it’s playing rotated and at 16×9. Why’s this happening? Your device is actually recording the content sideways at 16×9, then adding meta data it to rotate it 90 degrees. Don’t sweat, there’s no need to throw out the great content you just produced, it can be rotated using free open-source software: Handbrake.

Rotating a Video Using Handbrake

If you’ve never used Handbrake or other video encoding software before, consider reading the Handbrake Windows or Mac Handbrake walk-through before continuing.

Once you’re familiar with using Handbrake, there are only a few additional steps to rotate your content and prepare it for Ensemble.

After loading a video in Handbrake, make sure the Output Settings option is set to MP4 and Web Optimized.

In Size options, you’ll notice that the Source is probably showing as 1280×720 or 1920×1080. Those are 16×9 resolutions, but we’ll fix that in the next step. Feel free to reduce the Width and Height, especially if you’re going to be uploading the content through an Ensemble Workflow that does not transcode.

Screenshot of The Handbrake Picture Tab

In the Video tab, ensure H.264 is selected as the Video Codec.

In the Extra Options box, add , –rotate=4  exactly as it appears in the image below. This will rotate the video 90 degrees clockwise. Alternatively, use , –rotate=7 to rotate the video 90 degrees counterclockwise. To rotate 180 degrees for an up-side-down video, use ,–rotate=3. Note: the comma in the rotation code is required!

Screenshot of The Handbrake Video Tab

If you are uploading to Ensemble through a no-transcode workflow, set H.264 Profile: to Main and H.264 Level: to 3.1. To improve support for legacy devices (like the original iPhone), use Baseline 3.0 instead of Main 3.1. For Baseline 3.0, use 640×360 (16×9) or 640×480 (4×3).

You’re now ready to encode. Click the Start button to finish. For suggested encoding settings, see below.

Suggested Encoding Settings for Handbrake

These encoding settings are meant for content that will be uploaded directly to Ensemble without passing through a workflow that transcodes your video. If you are using a workflow like Compress and Stream, you should start with a higher bit rate to maximize the quality of the final version.

Picture Settings:

  • For the Width and Height setting, we suggest using 640×360 or 960×540 for 16×9 content, or 640×480 for 4×3 content.
  • Set Anamorphic to None. This will force a 1:1 (square) pixel-aspect-ratio, which ensures your content won’t looked stretched.

Can you use higher resolutions like 720P (1280×720) and 1080P (1920×1080)? Yes, but read this first! If you need a higher level of detail in your content, raising the resolution (width and height) can be beneficial, especially if you are using a moderate or high bit rate. Keep in mind that higher-resolution videos generally require a higher bit rate, and will raise your H.264 Level. This means some viewers might not have enough throughput to play the content without substantial buffering, and some devices may not support the content. Start by testing content at 720P, you may not need more detail than that.

Filters:

The Filters tab is not required, but can be helpful when working with interlaced content. For interlaced content, set the Decomb option to Default, and then choose Default for the Decomb drop-down box. This will deinterlace content when needed, but not add extra filters when the decomb option is not needed.

Video:

  • Video Codec: H.264
  • Framerate: Any frame rate less than or equal to 30fps is typical for web-based video. If the source content is not higher than 30fps, consider using Same as Source for this settings. Using Variable Framerate could introduce audio/video sync issues, but should be acceptable in most cases.
  • H.264 Profile / Level: For general purposes, use Main 3.1. Use Baseline 3.0 to improve support for legacy devices (do not exceed a 640×480 resolution). Use Main 4.1 for 1080P content, or High 4.2 for 1080P @60fps. Streaming at 1080P is not recommended unless an Adaptive Bit Rate workflow is in use.
  • Extra Options: When using a variable bit rate, you can set a maximum bit rate here. Entering ,–vbv-maxrate 3000 would set the maximum bit rate to 3mpbs.
  • Bit Rate: For videos that are playable on most devices, 1mbps (1000 kbps) can yield an acceptable video quality. Reduce the bit rate to make the content buffer less on very slow connections, or increase the bit rate to improve the video quality.

Audio:

  • Codec: any of the AAC codec options should be acceptable
  • Bitrate: for stereo audio, use 128 kbps as a starting point. If higher-fidelity playback is needed, 256kbps may be enough.
  • Mixdown: choose stereo or mono.

Subtitles:

Bitmap-based subtitles like VOBSUB will need to be burned into the video to be viewable in Ensemble. Text-based closed captions may be usable in Ensemble without being burned in.

Questions?

There’s a lot of information here! Contact us at support@ensemblevideo.com if you’d like assistance preparing your content for Ensemble.