Key Things You Must Know About Instagram Videos and Reels - Featured

Key Things You Must Know About Instagram Videos and Reels

Know your Instagram aspect ratios and time limits. Here are tips for cutting videos for Instagram Reels, feed posts, stories, and IGTV.

Instagram allows for a variety of content types, but each post comes with its own caveats and restrictions. There are four main places you can publish video content on Instagram. The Instagram feed, reels, stories, and IGTV.

Let’s take a quick look at the different options and restrictions of each. Plus let’s learn about the two important things you must know — aspect ratios and time limits.

Instagram Aspect Ratios

Now I should let you know that Instagram does allow for a variety of different aspect ratios when posting in the app, but when it comes to working with videos and running ad campaigns, there are four main aspect ratios that every agency and client will require.

The aspect ratio is more important than the frame size. With the proper settings, a 16:9 video that is 1152×648 can look even better than a 16:9 uncompressed 1920×1080 video. Instagram will compress on their end, so it’s best to make sure you compress and your files as much as you can and stick to the golden aspect ratios.

Instagram Video Aspect Ratios

  • 16:9 – Standard landscape videos
  • 9:16 – Vertical videos
  • 4:5 – Cropped vertical videos
  • 1:1 – Square videos
Key Things You Must Know About Instagram Videos and Reels - Aspect Ratio

Instagram Feed Posts Video Settings

Posts are the O.G. in the Instagram world, back in the days when it was a photo app. These posts can be photos or videos and will be displayed in the primary Instagram feed.

Back when Instagram was all squares with a 1:1 aspect ratio, you’d want to create content that was 640×640. Now in the world of 4K smartphones, your square canvas is better equipped to handle 1080×1080 pixels in the feed. (Keep in mind that Instagram will still compress your content.)

If you are posting a video to your feed, you’ll definitely want to use a traditional 16:9, 1:1, or 4:5 aspect ratio. You do not want to do a full vertical 9:16 video in the Instagram feed because the app will crop it to 4:5 to display. This is also true for Instagram Reels that you publish to the main feed.

Key Things You Must Know About Instagram Videos and Reels - Feed Specs

What are the best video settings for Instagram feed posts?

  • 60-second max length
  • Best Aspect Ratios
    • 16:9 – 1920×1080
    • 1:1 – 1080×1080
    • 4:5 – 1350×1080
  • Video Export Settings
    • H.264 video file
    • Bitrate target around 2-3 Mbps
  • Audio Export Settings
    • AAC codec
    • Sample Rate of 44100 Hz
    • Channels set to Mono
    • Bitrate of 160 kbps

Note: Remember that all content will be cropped to 1:1 for display on the main account page, so no matter what you post, make sure your cover image looks good as a square.

Instagram Reels Video Settings

Key Things You Must Know About Instagram Videos and Reels - Reels Specs

If you are making video content, Instagram Reels are what you want to be making right now. These videos live in a separate feed of all vertical video content that takes many aspects from Tik Tok. The content is all 9:16 and unlike Tik Tok, Reels only allow videos up to 30 seconds long.

Reels can also be shared to the Instagram Feed but they will be cropped to a 4:5 aspect ratio. So make sure your text is in a safe margin or check to make sure people’s heads aren’t chopped off.

What are the best video settings for Instagram Reels?

  • 30-second max length
  • Best Aspect Ratio
    • 9:16 – 1080×1920
  • Video Export Settings
    • H.264 video file
    • Bitrate target around 2-3 Mbps
  • Audio Export Settings
    • AAC codec
    • Sample Rate of 44100 Hz
    • Channels set to Mono
    • Bitrate of 160 kbps

Note: If you allow your Instagram Reel to also show up in the feed, your video will be cropped to 4:5 automatically. So if you have any text it may be cut out of frame, as well as the top of subjects heads. Not only that, your cover image will still be cropped to 1:1 for the profile page. It’s a headache to remember all of these steps.

Instagram Stories Video Settings

Key Things You Must Know About Instagram Videos and Reels - Story Specs

Stories are a different kind of beast, especially for video. All stories are limited to 15-second intervals, but you can just post multiple 15-second videos in succession to make it longer. Just note that users can drop out or skip at any point very easily.

What are the best video settings for Instagram Stories?

  • 15-second max length
    • You can post multiple 15-second clips in sequential order to make this longer.
  • Best Aspect Ratio
    • 9:16 – 1080×1920
  • Video Export Settings
    • H.264 video file
    • Bitrate target around 2-3 Mbps
  • Audio Export Settings
    • AAC codec
    • Sample Rate of 44100 Hz
    • Channels set to Mono
    • Bitrate of 160 kbps

IGTV Video Settings

Key Things You Must Know About Instagram Videos and Reels - IGTV Specs

I’m not gonna lie, I don’t really know why IGTV still exists. It’s not very popular, nor was it truly adopted by users or advertisers. That said, it’s the least restrictive of all Instagram video content, and it is the only place you can really upload longform video content or go Live.

What are the best video settings for Instagram IGTV?

  • 59-second minimum length
  • 15 minute max length (60 minutes to verified creators)
  • Best Aspect Ratio
    • 9:16 – 1080×1920
    • 16:9 – 1920×1080 – (Users will have to rotate their phones, which data proves they rarely do.)
  • Video Export Settings
    • H.264 video file
    • Bitrate target around 2-3 Mbps
  • Audio Export Settings
    • AAC codec
    • Sample Rate of 44100 Hz
    • Channels set to Mono
    • Bitrate of 160 kbps

Best Export Settings for Instagram

Are you cutting Instagram videos in an NLE like Premiere Pro, Final Cut, or DaVinci Resolve. You’ll want to make sure you have the proper sequence settings when editing, and the best compression settings when exporting your videos.

Here is a great tutorial from Matt Johnson using Premiere Pro, but the standards apply to all non-linear editors.