HOW-TO: Get your own channel icon on YouTube

You might have noticed that some of the video bloggers on YouTube have a custom banner and no 10-minute-per-video limit. There is nothing you can do about this, unless your videos are popular and have been “featured” by YouTube employees at some point. However, what you *can* do is use a custom channel icon.

I want my Channel page to have a picture of me, because that’s what I do for all my forum/site accounts: I always use a real picture. I don’t hide behind weird icons that don’t represent me. Only on IM I use an icon with a sheep just because some protocols can’t handle more than 48×48 pixels so it’s not visually distinct to have a real picture of a person in such a small size. Anyways, the way you create a channel icon on YouTube right now is to select which one of the RANDOM frames youtube’s engine has grabbed off of your videos. You can’t set your own picture. Now, the problem is that I am never in front of my camera. I am always behind it. And so there is no frame to pick as channel icon that has myself in it.

So, I had to devise something to go around this stupid limitation of YouTube. Here’s how I did it:

Open a photo or image editor. Create a 320×240 picture with it using the picture/logo you want. Save it as PNG. Open Vegas (or another video editor), and load the PNG picture in the timeline. Here’s how your project settings must look if you are using Vegas or anything similar:

Make sure your video is at least 4 seconds long, otherwise YouTube won’t accept it. Now, render the video using the 320×240 MP4 template from MainConcept’s encoder. Upload to YouTube. Within minutes, you will see your video here exposing the desired frame. Click on “Make Channel Icon”. Now, edit that video and make it “private” (or remove it). That’s it. You now have a custom channel icon!

The only problem is that YouTube creates a 130×97 channel icon image, but the image is forcefully squashed or cropped via CSS on your Channel page at 100 pixels width, and on your separate video pages at just 43×43. YouTube’s web developers should clean up their act and create channel icon images at the right size each time, depending on the needs of each page, otherwise quality of the channel icon is really bad because browsers use as-fast-as-possible algorithms to resize pictures on the fly, and a fast algorithm is not as good as let’s say, bilinear or bicubic. That’s true for my new channel icon too. But it’s better than that stupid duck I was forced to have before anyway.

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