A guide to export settings in HitFilm

MichaelJames Website User Posts: 2,038 Enthusiast
edited January 2015 in Post-production techniques

When you are using multiple programs or delivering your final product you might find yourself needing to output files in hitfilm.  If you are like I was then you've got to the export page and got confused and then just stuck with the default settings.  Sometimes I noticed differences in the color or the quality of outputs compared to the file in hitfilm. 

Well thanks to a video series that someone did on AE, which i'll post below, I can give a quick rundown for hitfim.

Hitfilm has 5 different encoding methods.  Youtube, H.264, OpenEXR, Image Sequence and AVI.

For all of us indie filmmakers who use Vimeo or Youtube did you know they have specific encoding settings that make it easier for them to encode?  Youtube and Vimeo.  Currently, Hitfilm only has a Youtube setting.  If you are trying to use Vimeo or output final copies of your project then you may need to know how to get the best out of H.264.


H.264 is a finishing codec.  Try to avoid editing or doing VFX in it if you can.  It can bring fast computers to their knees because it's very compressed.  In the Export page you can choose what you want to export from the timeline drop down menu.  Maybe you just want to demo a vfx sequence you worked hard on so you only select your composite shot. Maybe you just did a nice little sequence that is edited together in full with other shots so you select the editor.

Export area: Do you want the area that just has what you selected by setting In points and out points? Then select Work Area. Do you want everything that is on your timeline but maybe not the 5 seconds of blank area at the end? Select Content Area. Do you just want the full monty? Then select Entire Timeline.

Length: Details the length of the export area.

Export Video and Export Audio: Having the boxes checked allows you to export both Video and Audio. Maybe you want to hear how something sounds, so you uncheck export video. Maybe you don’t need audio for a program so you uncheck audio.


Video Width and Height: You can set the output parameters of your video. Ideally either maintain the same resolution of the original video or go smaller. You can always take a 1080p file and output it as a 720p file and have something that still looks good. Taking a 720p file and spitting it out as a 2k file may make things look worse and give you weird dimensions to your video that causes black bars.


Scale mode: It is typically locked unless you change the width or height of the video. This is typically not where you want to have adjusted the scale. I recommend keeping the aspect ration. The options in here are 1)center, 2)Ignore aspect ratio 3)Keep aspect ratio(the default) 4) Keep aspect ratio by expanding.

Frame Rate: Ideally you do not want to change the frame rate on the output. All of your hard work can become very off if you start changing it now. Chance the video frame rate when you input it and then you know exactly what you are working with. Taking a clip with a 30 frame rate and cutting it down to 24 on the export with impact the audio and cut out some of the sections in the video.   Trying to increase framerate on the export can make things go badly. Now if you just composited a 3d car driving through a city that you created, you could get away with cutting the frame rate down from 30 to 24 on the output.

Aspect ratio: Has to deal with how it handles the source material. If you are handling SD footage then here is where you would not select Square pixels(1.0). You also would not select that default setting if you were using an Anamorphic lens

Profile: How much work a processer has to do to handle your output video. For simpler devices with a lot of restrictions and not Displaying HD then you would choose Baseline. For your standard computer the Main profile is fine. If you are using Vimeo or Youtube then you might want to kick it up to High. The reason being that they are going to compress it anyways, so if you give them the highest you can muster it should then it might look ok after they take it and compress it.

Level: The higher the level the more it can handle a higher resolution and bit rate. I had a 2k timeline that would not allow me to use a 1.1 level. 5.0 and 5.1 are the only ones that let me render my 2k composite shot.


Encoding: Constant Bit rate means the same Mbps will be encoded for each scene. So a scene with a lot of action/ movement will have the same amount of Mbps as the scene where nothing is moving or change. Below that you can set the bitrate. This can cause you to have very large files. Variable Bit rate means Hitfilm can adjust based on the video. It will take longer, but adjust the bitrate based on what is going on in the scene. VBR 1 Pass is ok but hopefully FXhome adds VBR 2 Pass. Watch the video to hear why VBR 2 pass is better than 1 pass. Youtube and Vimeo do have guidelines for bitrate. For most of us, a 1080p video is recommended by youtube to have a bitrate of 8,000kbps or 8mbps and Vimeo says 10,000-20,000 kbps or 10-20Mbps. So you get a higher Video bitrate on Vimeo for the average user.

Audio settings: You can choose the bitrate for you audio, but again Vimeo and Youtube have preferred bitrates. Mono 128kbps, Stereo 384kbps, 5.1 Audio 512 kbps for Youtube. Vimeo gives you 320kbps for audio.


If you want to save room, then encode smaller bit rates. A 5 minute video can be nearly 1.5 gbs big if you use a VBR 1 Pass with the target set to 35 and the max set to 43. That same file with a target bitrate of 11 and a max of 32 would give less than 500 MBs.


  • scottidog
    scottidog Website User Posts: 9

    Very useful.


  • Robin
    Robin Website User Posts: 1,671 Enthusiast
    edited January 2015

    This is very useful information, especially for beginners overwhelmed by the export page! I took the freedom to change the title of this thread a bit, using the vocabulary used in the software to make it easier to find, especially for beginners. I hope you don't mind :)

    EDIT: I see someone changed the title a little bit more. Well played  

  • Pencilandinc
    Pencilandinc Website User Posts: 143

    Bravo. Very useful indeed. If you go to the original vimeo page, this gentleman also hosts a tutorial that is the best explanation of codecs I've ever seen. This, in turn, would give users a basis to establish which codec they should use in a given situation and even allow small tweaking of the settings to fit their needs.

  • FlorenciaFernanez86
    FlorenciaFernanez86 Website User Posts: 2

    Hi, Im new in Hitfilm and I have a problem, when I want to export my finished video to youtube (I have Hitfilm 3 express) and I copy the success code from google to export the video, the program says "An error occurred while getting the account credentials" and I try again but still happening, you can say me what is happening? thanks.

  • Robin
    Robin Website User Posts: 1,671 Enthusiast
    edited January 2016

    @FlorenciaFernanez86That was a common problem with HitFilm related to some YouTube API changes that curiously only affected certain users, which only got fixed recently in HitFilm 4. I'm not sure if there were any updates to the older HitFilm versions to fix this.

  • Yeremyah
    Yeremyah Website User Posts: 1,000 Enthusiast

    How can I export a SINGLE image?  Whenever I want to save an single image file, it exports many of them.

    How I export just ONE image file?

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Website User Posts: 4,062 Enthusiast
    edited January 2016

    In the viewer window in the Options menu choose Export frame. It will save a PNG file of the frame displayed, with alpha.


  • Robin
    Robin Website User Posts: 1,671 Enthusiast

    @Yeremyah What Norman said. You probably tried to use the image sequence export option, which works just like the "normal" video export options, except it doesn't put all the different frames together in one video file, but saves them as individual images.

  • NormanPCN
    NormanPCN Website User Posts: 4,062 Enthusiast

    The other thing is that export image sequence exports what you tell it to do. For a selected timeline we have three options. Entire timeline, work area and content area. If you really want to use the image sequence export panel to export a single image then you will need to setup a single frame work area and use the work area option for the properly selected timeline. A single frame work area is the in+output points on the same frame.


  • bigberry
    bigberry Website User Posts: 1

     Hi all, I'm new to HitFilm 4 Express. I tried to export the video I made but the speed of the video is off (it's faster than the audio) which is different from when I edit the video. I've searched through the website and I assumed that no one has the same problem. Not sure what to adjust. 



  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,412 Ambassador

    @bigberry this is such a common problem there are literally entire threads about it. I'm ggoing to assume your source footage is from a phone, a tablet or a screen capture utility. This means your footage is variable framerate and needs to be converted to a constant framerate. 

    So you need this thread. 


  • Yeremyah
    Yeremyah Website User Posts: 1,000 Enthusiast

    Cheers @NormanPCN

    And @Robin , yes I was exporting image sequence lol ;)

  • PapaBearUSMC
    PapaBearUSMC Website User Posts: 2

    I am trying to publish a video to write to DVD for play by some old skool clients that want the discs to play on DVD. Any option within HitFilm to export to MPEG-2 or another DVD player readable file format?

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,412 Ambassador

    @PapaBearUSMC afraid not. You'll have to use other software to create the MPEG-2. What's your DVD software? Mine will do the MPEG-2 transcode internally. 

  • PapaBearUSMC
    PapaBearUSMC Website User Posts: 2

    The intent is for the Kindergarten teacher to hand DVD's to her students. Their parents will then watch the DVD's at home. They will also likely watch the DVD in the classroom. I used DVDFlick to create the MPEG-2 files and .iso and ImgBurn to create the discs. I am on copy 5 of 15 at this moment.


    Thanks for the information though. It looked that way from what I could see.

  • Triem23
    Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 19,412 Ambassador

    No worries. Obviously your current setup is working. Also nice to see I'm not the only one still getting contracted for DVD in 2017. 

  • FlankerB1
    FlankerB1 Website User Posts: 1

    If hitfilm would add 2-pass encoding, I would definitely consider buying the pro version. Freemium concept is not for me. The reason why it doesn't have the option is beyond me. I know it would be slower, but even 1 pass in hitfilm is faster than 1 pass in adobe media encoder.

  • WaleedNawaz
    WaleedNawaz Website User Posts: 1

    I am unable to export my video more than of 5 minutes.

  • tddavis
    tddavis Moderator, Website User Posts: 4,732 Moderator
    edited November 2017

    @WaleedNawaz It sounds like to me that you need to extend the timeline by right clicking on the the timecode bar and clicking set to contents. The editor has a default length of 5 minutes.  Then after you get the dark gray area to go to the end of your project you should be able to export all or set in and out points for all of it.

    Here is an image of the area I mean; marked with a red arrow:


  • Bloodsong13T
    Bloodsong13T Website User Posts: 29
    edited January 2018

    thank you for this!  i was just looking at the manual page on exporting... and it is very SHORT on information.

    (also, it says not to use h.264 for exporting to work on the footage more in other editors.  but it doesn't say what you SHOULD use.  also, when i edited the mp4 exporter, h.264 was the only codec option.  i finally figured out, duh, i should just use avi. :X)


    but!  i need to know what all those 'Scale' settings mean/do!

    i have a camera that is shooting in 1440x1080.  when i play this in media player... it looks like 16:9 to me.  maybe it's a bit shorter?  when i export it from hitfilm, using the standard 'youtube 1080hd' export setting, it keeps smushing it into a square.

    when i throw the camera clips into sony vegas platinum 10 (yes, im old and cheap), the video comes out to be 1920x1440... i THINK because once upon a time, i told it to change imported clips to match the project size?  which is the 1920.

    so!  i need this 1440x to become a 1920x. (for some reason, vegas isn't automatically doing that?)  i made a new export setting... changed the aspect ratio to the target...  now presumably, i need to tell it to stretch the 1440 to 1920.  i've been doing that by trying 'ignore aspect ratio', but... it's coming out to like 1900 with thin bars on the ends.


    can somebody explain to a vidiot, what i should be doing with this thing?? heeeeelp!  :(


    OH!  I DID IT!  the avi one worked! 

    for posterity, 'cam to Vegas export':

    ignore aspect ratio
    frame rate from source

  • ahngang942
    ahngang942 Website User Posts: 2

    Hello I'm using Hitfilm express 4

    My video quality gets worse after exporting, what's the ideal settings do you guys use?

    Like this one..

    Thanks in advance :)

  • CleverTagline
    CleverTagline Moderator Las Vegas, NVModerator, Website User, Ambassador, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 3,240 Ambassador

    @ahngang942 First off, why are you using Express 4? Express is now up to version 11, which has a lot of improvements over 4.

    As for exports, I mostly just use the YouTube 1080p preset (one of the many things added after 4), though I have made a copy with a higher bitrate that I often use for my final exports, saving the default for mid-production tests.

    What's your source material (file type & codec, resolution, frame rate)? What are your project settings?

  • andresmassobrio
    andresmassobrio Website User Posts: 1

    Hello, how a export a video with whatsapp compability, tried a copple of presets but nothing, thanks!

  • Stargazer54
    Stargazer54 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 3,105 Ambassador

    @andresmassobrio This is an old thread and the previous posters will probably not see your comment.  Many things have changed with the software since then.  If you have a specific problem, please start a new thread.


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