Heard the buzz about Instagram TV?
If so, you may have a few questions about the vertical-only format.
In this article, I’ll take you through a rundown of what Instagram TV is and how you can format your videos to fit it.
What We’ll Cover:
- Major differences between IGTV, Instagram Stories and other video platforms
- Best practices for creating the right format
- IGTV video specs
- Getting started: How to upload a video
- How to reformat your videos for IGTV:
Instagram TV (IGTV) may not be new anymore, but it’s still an incredibly under-used feature in the Instagram family.
Before you write it off, it’s worth making another obvious statement: video has been on the rise for years now, showing no signs of slowing down. As such, you may want to start working IGTV into your social strategy.
Why? Well, a few reasons. For one, Instagram has been gradually making improvements to the platform. Additionally, rumors of a TikTok-style video response feature and upcoming monetization options suggest that IGTV may become more important to marketers in the coming months.
Still, one of the bigger barriers preventing brands from adopting IGTV may come down to a simple matter of formatting. Unlike traditional video platforms like YouTube, IGTV uses a vertical format, making it difficult to reuse content from other platforms in your cross-channel strategy.
The good news is, there are ways to reformat your existing videos for Instagram TV. And, even better–they’re a lot easier than you might think.
Here, I’ll go over six different ways to repurpose your video content for the platform–but first, let’s take a look at some of the key differences between IGTV and other platforms.
How is IGTV Different than Instagram Stories & Other Video Platforms?
The main difference between IGTV and Stories is the time limit
As I’ve mentioned before, Stories are 15 seconds or less, while IGTV videos have a ten-minute cap. Once you hit 10,000 followers, you’ll have more time to work with–one minute and one hour, respectively.
In any case, the disparity in time limits means that brands should use the two video channels for different types of content.
Stories are great for informal posts, polls, ads, and other ways to entertain or promote awareness.
While IGTV videos can be as short as stories, it’s important to note that there’s a higher expectation for polished content in this corner of Instagram. As such, consider this a place to share product videos, how-to videos, Q&A sessions, etc.
It will also give influencers a more suitable place for product recommendations and reviews, which could make the already thriving influencer marketing strategies even more appealing to brands.
As far as what IGTV actually means for platforms like YouTube, it’s hard to say. YouTube, of course, continues to dominate. It’s easier for creators to monetize videos on YouTube, plus established influencers already have an established viewership.
Obviously, for most users, IGTV will provide a more restrictive time limit than other video platforms, TikTok, of course, being the exception, here.
If you’re interested in learning how to create engaging content for all Instagram formats, I recommend checking out this post. In it, I break down IGTV vs. Stories vs. in-feed videos and ads.
Best Practices for Creating Videos for the IGTV Format
The vertical format of IGTV videos can be confounding to newcomers, but that doesn’t mean you should disregard it.
Because they’re shot vertically, the videos are extremely easy to upload and share, and don’t require much equipment to put together.
That also means that marketers can bypass some of the planning and editing tasks you might apply to your YouTube videos. As such, the platform is ideal for engaging with fans in a more conversational way than you would, say, on a longer YouTube tutorial.
That said if you’re creating videos that hit the upper limit of the platform’s time constraints, that “off-the-cuff” Stories-type vibe might not make the cut.
Before getting started, here are a few things to know about creating content specifically for IGTV:
- Don’t assume people will switch orientation just for you. Remember, IGTV is still designed for vertical video. Make sure you cut your videos accordingly. If you produce videos in landscape orientation and expect people to turn their mobile phones sideways just so they can watch them, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Folks will bail before they’ll do that.
- Keep it short. People are busy. They often don’t have time to watch entire productions of well-written novels that are trying to sell them something. That’s why you should keep your videos short and sweet. Begin with something that captures their attention so they watch the rest of the video. Then, bring the video to a conclusion as soon as you’ve made your point.
- Keep framing in mind. That means when possible, film your video vertically (even if you aren’t using your phone). If you don’t, you’ll have to go through the process of cropping the video
- Plan your video length carefully. While the time limit allows up to 10 minutes (and in some cases, an hour), that doesn’t mean you have to use it. As a rule of thumb, videos between 2-3 minutes tend to get the most engagement. In some cases, a longer video makes sense–think Q&As, interviews, or something viewers are genuinely excited about.
IGTV Video Specs
Before we get into the actual process of changing the format of your video for Instagram TV, let’s quickly go over the specs:
Settings: IGTV settings run at 1080×1350 (whereas a horizontal video will run closer to 1920×1080).
- Small accounts: 15 seconds – 10 minutes
- Large accounts: 15 seconds – 60 minutes
- Minimum: 4:5
- Maximum: 9:16
- Max for videos less than 10 minutes: 650MB
- Max for videos up to 60 minutes: 5.4GB
Now, onto the tips and tools that will let you change the format of your existing videos into IGTV-perfect content.
Getting Started: How to Upload Video to IGTV
To upload a video to IGTV, you’ll need to create a channel.
You can do this one of three ways: through the Instagram app, the IGTV app, or the Instagram website.
Once set up (easily done through Instagram’s prompting) you can upload videos either from the app or the website.
So, you probably didn’t miss the part where I mentioned IGTV videos are all vertically-formatted*, right?
*Well, technically, IGTV now supports horizontal content. However, if you look at the image on the far right compared to the other two examples, it’s clear that vertical is the way to go, here.
While vertical is cool for mobile shots and uploads, you may be wondering if your existing video assets can be reused to fit in with the IGTV standard.
The answer is yes, it is. But it will require some reformatting.
If that’s not your usual jam, don’t worry. I’ll go over some easy ways you can repurpose your content for IGTV without hiring a dedicated team.
How Do You Change the Format of a Video on Instagram with Editing Tools?
There’s no single answer to “how do I change the format of an IGTV video.” Really, it all depends on what you want to do–and what kind of source material you’re dealing with.
In looking at the dimensions and specs outlined above, you’ll notice that there’s a lot of similarities to Instagram Stories. As such, many of the same tools and formatting tactics apply to IGTV and there are several apps that can help you put together some pro-grade content–fast.
Here are six of my favorite ways to create IGTV-friendly content from your YouTube channel, Facebook, or elsewhere–that looks as great vertically as it did in its original form.
1. Convert Widescreen to IGTV, Crop Videos, & More with FinalCut Pro X
If you’re wondering “How do I convert a widescreen video for IGTV?” or “How do you change the format of a video on Instagram?,” FinalCut ProX has you covered.
FinalCut Pro X is an extremely popular editing tool that allows you to easily reformat your IGTV videos, and a whole lot more. While there are countless other editing tools at every price point (Adobe Premier, VSCO, Snapseed) FinalCut Pro X is a versatile, pro-grade editing tool. If it’s in your budget and you create a LOT of video content, it’s worth checking out.
In any case, the platform makes it easy to edit videos on mobile or desktop and post them to IGTV.
To change the format of an existing video for IGTV, you’ll need to follow this series of steps:
- To get started, launch FinalCut Pro and create an Event to hold all your IGTV videos.
- Then, navigate to File>New>Event. Enter the name you’d like and click save.
- From there, you’ll import your video by going to File>Import>Media. In the Devices section on the left side of the Media Import window, select your computer or the connected external storage device from which you want to import media. Use list view at the bottom of the window to navigate to a file or folder and select it.
- Next, select “Add to Existing Event” and choose the IGTV event from the pop-up window.
- Once you’ve uploaded your video and are in your timeline view, you can convert the video to the correct specs. To do so, go to Window>Project Properties (or Command J on the keyboard). On the right side of the screen, your video specs will appear.
- Click “Modify” and a popup will appear, allowing you to edit your video properties. You want to work in the Video row, third from the top. There, you’ll see the video format, resolution, and rate.
- Click Format and select Custom from the dropdown menu.
- Then, edit the resolution to 1080×1920. The rate will stay the same. Click Ok.
- Now, you’ll probably see a smaller video surrounded by black on the top and bottom.
- Lots of black, little video. You can use it as is, or edit it by clicking on the Transform tool (second icon from the left in the bottom left corner).
- Select Crop from the dropdown, and select Crop again when it appears overlayed on the video. Then move the box to the portion of the video you want to be displayed in the middle of the frame.
- Click Done and review your work.If you’re happy with the file, click the export button located at the top right of the screen, then select “Master File.”
- Name your video and head over to “Settings.” Under the format dropdown, select Computer to export it as an MP4.
- Click Save, and you’re done.
2. How to Crop IGTV Videos with Wondershare.Filmora
I’ve long been a fan of Wondershare Filmora. The easy-to-use editing platform offers 4k support, simple green-screen effects, and helps you fix common problems like camera shake or fisheye.
Another cool thing about this software? You can crop your videos for free.
The downside? It comes with a watermark that will cover your video.
The benefit of the free version is more about allowing brands to play around with the tool before committing to the paid plan. I’d advise against posting anything with another brand’s watermark as it looks bad, and may cause some confusion when it comes to brand image.
Reformatting your video for IGTV in Filmora is a lot like the process you’d use inside FinalCut Pro X. Here’s the brief rundown of how to set it up:
- First, upload your video by clicking Import>Import Media Files.
- Select the file from the folder to open the video.
- Then, you’ll want to select the crop tool and drag the box around the video to frame your shot–just like cropping a still image in any editing platform.
- When you’re happy with the result, click Export.
- Select MP4 as the desired format, then click Settings. There, you’ll select Resolution, and then Custom.
- Enter 1080×1920 as your dimensions and save.
- And, just like that, you’re done.
3. How do you change the format of a video on Instagram–Fast?
If speed is the name of the game, I recommend looking toward a Web-Based Converter like Movavi.
Since we’re talking specifically about resizing video for IGTV, it makes sense to look toward a tool designed for the express purpose of converting and resizing, without all of the extra features (and expenses) that come with a full-on editing tool like FinalCut Pro X.
Good news: Movavi is that tool. This one’s another free download with a one-click setup.
- Once installed, simply add your video to the program and select the desired output (MP4).
- Then, click the cogwheel button next to the Output format field.
- There, you can specify the resolution you would like your video to be (in this case, 1080×1920), and start the conversion.
Keep in mind, Movavi doesn’t provide the features you’ll find in a more comprehensive editing suite. As such, if you do plan on editing your video it might be best to use one of the other tools I’ve already mentioned.
But for quick video converting, it’s one of the best of the bunch. That said, a converter isn’t always the most visually-appealing solution. Watch out for oddly-cropped shots and other signs of warping–major turn-offs on such a visual platform.
4. How Do I Stop Instagram from Cropping my Videos?
As you may have noticed, Instagram automatically crops all vertical posts (stills and videos alike) to a 4:5 aspect ratio. The problem is, that this means it’s not possible to post a full 9:16 video into Instagram directly without the platform resizing your content.
Whether you’re repurposing a Snap, a screenshot or a TikTok post for IGTV, Instagram forces you to shave off some of your video before you can post.
One of my favorite workarounds for this problem is Kapwing. The platform is designed specifically to help users resize videos for Instagram without chopping off a key piece of your video.
To get started, head over to Kapwing.com. Then, upload your file or paste in the URL.
By the way, the convenience of pasting in URLs makes this tool especially useful for repurposing YouTube videos for IGTV.
You’ll then see the video appear on a new screen with the option to resize it to fit various social channels. One of those options is to resize it for Story (Snap/Insta) or IGTV. Your video will appear vertically, with black above and below.
Here, I’ve pasted in a recent video from my YouTube channel to show what it looks like in action:
You can crop the video, but do note that you won’t have full control over the crop. While the app generally does a good job, there may be some instances where the crop doesn’t quite yield the results you were hoping for.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to convert a video from YouTube fast, Kapwing’s the way to do it.
The tools are free to use, requiring only a login. Be sure to login when you use the platform, otherwise, your videos will come with a watermark. You can remove the watermark for free after signing in.
And finally, Kapwing only accepts videos under eight minutes long. So if you’re trying to use the full ten minutes IGTV allows, this might not be the best choice.
5. How Do I Change the Format to IGTV Video from Facebook Live?
Let’s say you’ve just hosted a successful Facebook Live video with high viewership and great engagement. In that case, it’s only natural that you’d want to capitalize on it as much as possible.
Because many Facebook Live videos are shot on mobile, they’re perfect for repurposing on
IGTV, eliminating the need to resize and reframe your old material.
With Facebook Live, you can download videos right to your computer and change the file format for IGTV. Here’s how to do it:
- First, log into your Facebook page and click on Publishing Tools. In the left-hand column, click on Videos and find the Live video you would like to download.
- You’ll see a Post Details pop-up appear; find the Edit Post button and click on it. Above the top right of your image, a gear icon will appear.
- Click it, and then click the Download HD button.
- If the video was shot on your phone, you won’t need any further editing.
- Simply upload from your computer straight to the desktop version of IGTV.
6. The Best Way to Produce IGTV Videos? Your Phone.
While many of the tools above will produce great videos, you can’t beat something tailor-made.
Despite the fact that you can post horizontal videos on Instagram, IGTV’s vertical format was designed to cater to the way people view content on their phones.
Sticking with the format shows your audience that you understand the platform and care about making content for on-the-go viewing–as opposed to posting the same exact video on every platform.
According to Mashable’s Jeff Petriello it may be worth the extra effort to capture your video horizontally and reformat for IGTV. Petriello told Nieman Lab that horizontal video is typically higher quality than vertical, particularly if it was shot in 4k.
But converting to vertical isn’t without its drawbacks. For example, editing older videos to platform specs or adding a background to your video to avoid IG’s auto-cropping can be pretty annoying.
Ultimately, that’s okay. After all, IGTV is a different platform, and its content should be different as well.
Though IGTV has been around for a couple of years, it’s still early days, as the platform continues to find its footing.
While some marketing experts have been quick to declare IGTV a flop, it seems that the feature is evolving into a more valuable storytelling tool.
Whether it overtakes YouTube or snuffs out TikTok a la Snapchat remains to be seen. However, even if the platform serves primarily as a secondary channel for getting in front of new eyeballs, IGTV is well worth exploring.
And, using the tools and tips I’ve outlined above, you’ll save some time as you experiment with the new(ish) medium. In the meantime, if you’re looking for more ways to raise your IG profile, here are 15 more tools to help you create killer visual content.