TikTok has quickly catapulted to become one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in existence. Available in more than 150 countries, with around 700 million users, it’s easy to see why 13- to 40-year-olds can’t get enough of the dancing, social media challenges, animal videos and song imitations. If you’re a TikTok creator, you’re likely constantly refining your craft. And you should!
How can you make the best TikTok videos and win your share of around 700 million-strong audience? In this article, you’ll learn all about the best smartphones, equipment, resolution, length, and export settings.
Camera equipment for TikTok videos
While it may seem that TikTok favors low-budget productions, there’s also room to elevate your production value with a few key pieces of equipment that don’t have to break the bank. It all starts with your camera. You’re likely shooting with a smartphone. Pay attention to sensor size and resolution. You’ll get the highest quality video recording capabilities with the latest Apple iPhone model, Samsung Galaxy or Google Pixel, all of which offer 4K video recording. Check your camera settings to make sure you’ve selected the highest resolution.
Lens attachments for TikTok videos
In addition to a high-resolution camera, you can bump up video production with lens attachments such as the following:
Filters for TikTok videos
Tripods and Gimbals for TikTok videos
Though smartphones have built-in stabilization, you may be on the go (running, skating, following a fast-moving subject) and need additional control. Tripods and gimbals are now widely available for smartphones. These are some of the top stabilizers:
Lighting for TikTok videos
Finally, don’t forget that any TikTok video, no matter how you shoot it, needs proper lighting! Small, portable lights such as these work just fine:
Recording sound or music for TikTok
Here are some picks for attachable camera microphones:
Best TikTok video & audio format
The first step to creating the best-looking TikTok videos is to shoot in vertical video dimensions. And then, of course, edit in the same dimensions for the best TikTok resolution.
In your editing software, you can choose vertical orientation when you create your project. In Final Cut Pro X, simply make that selection from the drop-down menu under Video Format. If you shot in 4K (which you should), choose the highest resolution, 2160 x 3840 pixels. Set the frame rate to 23.98 or 60 if you’re going to slow down any frames.
TikTok video length
When the app first launched, TikTok videos were limited to 15 seconds in length. Today, the app allows you to record up to 60 seconds by combining 4 15-second clips. TikTok will roll out 3-minute videos to all users any day now. (This option is in beta, and only some users have that option right now.)
Export settings for TikTok videos
Most TikTok video editors use either Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro X. Follow these steps for the best quality export.
Exporting from Adobe Premiere:
- Set the Format dropdown menu in the Queue panel to H.264.
- Set the Preset dropdown menu to Mobile Device 1080p HD.
- Click the blue text in the Output File column to name and specify where to save the file.
- Under the Video tab, click the Match Source checkbox to remove the letterbox framing.
- Check Render at Maximum Depth with a Bitrate of 8 Mbps and Render at Maximum Quality.
- Click OK.
Exporting from Final Cut Pro X:
- Click on File > Share and then click Master File.
- Go to Export settings and make sure the video codec is H.284 Faster Encode.
- Choose Computer as the format. Also, shoot for a maximum file size of 20 megabytes or lower, if possible
- For audio, choose AAC, rather than mp3 format
- Hit Next and save your project to your desktop.
As for file size, TikTok allows 72 MB for Android users, and Apple iOS users can upload up to 287.6 MB.
Now it’s time to transfer the video file to your phone. Be aware of file compression during this step. You don’t want that, so the method of transfer matters. If you’re using an Apple phone, simply Airdrop it to yourself. If you’re on Android, use DropBox or even a cable for a lossless transfer.
To recap, here’s how to upload the best quality TikTok videos:
- Record your video in the appropriate aspect ratio (vertical) and resolution (highest available).
- Use additional gear such as attachable lenses, filters, stabilizers and microphones.
- Edit with professional software such as FCPX or Adobe Premiere.
- Export file type MP4 with H.264 codec.
- Format to AAC audio.
- TikTok videos must not exceed 60 seconds in length.
- Upload from your computer to your phone using DropBox for Android or Airdrop for Apple.
Want to know how to create the best social media videos for other platforms? In previous articles, we taught you all about the Instagram video format and Instagram reels as well as how to post a video on Facebook and everything technical you need to know about YouTube bitrate.
TikTok has 689 million monthly active users worldwide, with downloads absolutely soaring since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 reaching 115 million! So while Instagram still outranks TikTik in most metrics, the new player on the social block saw its revenue double in 2020 to reach $35 billion. So make the most out of this money-making platform with all our tips to create the best-looking TikTok videos!
Jessica Peterson is a travel and documentary filmmaker with a background in journalism and marketing. She has 20 years of experience producing content in 114 cities and 25 countries. In 2016, she directed and produced her own documentary about her then-home of Guam. Working under the name Global Girl Travels, her clients include CNN, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Matador Network, and Tastemade.