Exporting with Vegas for Vimeo HD

Note: This guide is updated regularly.

1. Introduction

You got that shiny HD camera recently and you want your footage to show up on YouTube, or Vimeo, correct? Follow this Sony Vegas Platinum/Pro guide on how to setup your project settings, and how to “export” from it as 720p HD (for 1080p, keep reading). The following export guides are also compatible with the XBoX360, Sony PS3, Roku, WD Live, Boxee Box, GoogleTV etc (for more device support, keep reading).

2. Project Settings

On Vegas, it’s very important to have the right project settings before you start editing. From the main menu select “Project Properties”, and a new dialog will pop up. In there, click the right outmost icon, the one that reads “Match Media Settings” when hovered with the mouse. From there, select one of the files you will be editing with, and click “open”. Vegas will now automatically fill up most of the project settings for you, after analyzing the video file you picked.

After it does that, you need to do a few changes manually to that dialog: For the de-interlacing option select “interpolate”, and for the Quality option select “Best”. In the “Audio” tab of the dialog, you can set “resample and stretching quality” to “Best”. You can save a new template with all these settings, so each time you start a new project with the same kind of footage, you can just pick it from the list! So, after your project settings are set, click “Ok”, and edit as you would normally do. Save often.

Special Cases (not applicable for the majority of users)
*IF* you shot in PF24, PF30 or PF25 modes (which are non-default modes, found only on Canon HD cameras and a few Panasonic ones), you must check this project properties tutorial instead, and then come back here.

3. Ensuring visual quality
After you have edited, select ALL video clips in the timeline sans the audio clips (e.g. by using the SHIFT key), right click, select “Switches”, and then “Disable Resample”. By disabling resample we ensure no “ghosted” image (especially important if you used slow-motion, or if you’re using different kinds of footage in the same project).

4. Exporting

Vegas Pro 7/8/9/10 users: Export in Main Concept (MP4 h.264 VBR), or Sony AVC as fallback.
Vegas Platinum 7/8 & Movie Studio HD users: Export in Windows Media Video (WMV).
Vegas Platinum 9 users: Export in Sony AVC (MP4 h.264), or in WMV as a fallback.
Vegas Platinum 10 users: Export in Main Concept (MP4 h.264 VBR), or Sony AVC, and WMV as fallback.
Vegas Platinum 11 users: Export in MainConcept-ALT (MP4 h.264 VBR), or Sony AVC, and WMV as fallback.

Main Concept export:
Use this visual guide to export to MainConcept. Make sure you use the right frame rate in the exporting dialog, same as in your project properties, as configured in step #1.

MainConcept-ALT export:
Use this visual guide to export to a version of MainConcept found on newer versions of Vegas. Click “Project” from the main menu, and then “Render As”, then follow the linked guide.

Sony AVC export:
Use this one to export to Sony AVC. Make sure you use the right frame rate in the exporting dialog, same as in your project properties, as configured in step #1. If you are getting crashes during rendering, you must go to Vegas’ Settings, click the video tab and lower the number of threads to “1”. Another hack to fix Sony AVC crashes is this one.

WMV export:
To get the WMA 9.2 audio abilities you need to install first Windows Media Player 11 for XP (Vista/Win7 comes with it), and then follow the visual guide here to export in WMV. Make sure you use the right frame rate in the exporting dialog, same as in your project properties, as configured in step #1.

5. Exporting in 1080p, or for other devices

If you want to export in 1080p instead, simply change the suggested resolution to 1920×1080, and the bitrate to 12 mbps (avg 12 mbps, max 24 mbps — for the encoders that support VBR). Everything else remains the same as described in the tutorials above.

To export for the classic AppleTV, use the Main Concept method. Select its iPod 640×480 template, and then hit “custom” (sorry, this ability is not available to all Vegas versions). Uncheck both “allow source to adjust frame size” and “allow source to adjust frame rate”. Set “custom frame size” to 1280×720. Set frame rate to 23.976 fps, and for bitrate use no more than 4,000,000 bps.

For the newer kind of AppleTV (the small one), and the iPad, you can additionally use frame rates up to 29.97 fps, and bitrate up to 10,000,000 bps.

For smartphones, or less powerful non-Apple tablets, export as for the classic AppleTV mentioned above, but with a few additional changes: set resolution at 640×360, and bitrate at no more than 1,000,000 bps (1 mbps avg, 2 mbps max). In contrast to the classic AppleTV, frame rate can go up to 29.97 fps.

6. Uploading

So, after your rendering is complete with one of the methods above, simply upload the resulted video file to Vimeo or YouTube, add the comma separated tags “HD” & the model of your camera (e.g. “HV20”, “5D”), and soon it will be available in glorious HD through the web browser. Please note, you will need a fast computer to get HD Flash video to playback smoothly on your web browser. Make sure you run the latest Flash version too, which usually comes with playback optimizations.

Non-VimeoPlus users have an allowance of 1 HD video per week, and up to 500 MB of file size. If you are a non-VimeoPlus user, and your video is over 500 MBs, simply tweak the bitrate to something lower. Bitrate is the only thing that affects filesize.

Finally, I recommend you allow users to download your videos on Vimeo, as it’s nice to be able to get our hands to the original higher quality version and enjoy it via a proper media player on a big HDTV. If you love watching Vimeo videos on TV as much as I do, I would suggest you buy the $60 Roku device, which comes with a native Vimeo app!

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