How to prepare a video for streaming

To see how a Gumroad video product looks and feels, check out our free example

To Stream Or Not To Stream...

When you upload a video file to Gumroad, you can choose whether or not to set your video to be downloadable, or "streaming-only". If you set your video to stream only, customers will not be able to save the video file to their computers, or to their mobile devices.

You can do this by toggling on the "Disable file downloads" option in your product's settings.

As an extra security measure, we sign and expire all streaming links to prevent unauthorized sharing and embedding of your film.

The resolution for SD video streaming is 480p, and HD streaming is at 1080p.

If your customers rents your video file, or rents a product from you that contains a video file, they will only be able to stream their purchase for 72 hours. Learn much, much more about rentals here.

Preparing Your Video

Gumroad's streaming player supports nearly all file types, and automatically optimizes your video for online playback across all browsers, devices, and connection speeds.

Test both the streaming and rental experience for yourself with this free video from Gumroad. 

For best results, we recommend:

  • The MP4 container format.
  • The H.264 video codec.
  • The AAC audio codec.
  • A screen aspect ratio of 16:9. More rectangular (4:3) or cinematic (2.39:1) ratios will result in black borders.
  • A square pixel aspect ratio of 1:1.
  • Progressive frames (i.e. 720p) instead of interlacing (i.e. 720i).

Post-publish transcoding

If you test purchase your product within minutes of adding a video file and publishing it, and click on the "Watch" button from the download page, you might see a screen like this:

Depending on your internet speed, the video might still start playing in the background and you can hit that "x" button to view it, but it'll take longer than usual (especially if it's a large file). That's because we're still transcoding your video, as the message says. 

Okay now will you please tell me what is "transcoding" after all?

Transcoding basically breaks down the complete video file into multiple smaller files — so they're easier to download for the browser. This way the video playback will begin once a few initial chunks of the video have been downloaded, without having to wait for the entire video to be downloaded completely. It makes the overall streaming experience for your audience a lot better!

Cool. How will I know if the video has been transcoded successfully? 

While the transcoding process is usually quick, it's a bit difficult for us to give a time estimate for the job to finish. It depends on a lot of factors — video size, compression, codec, jobs already in the queue, etc. In a few cases, it might take up to a few hours too (NooOoO!) 

So if it's taking longer than you'd expect, please be patient! We have measures in place to let you know about the final success/failure state.

If everything goes well (which is the case most of the times) you'll get an email from us saying that the product is ready to be streamed, and you'll stop seeing that "Your video is being transcoded" message on the streaming window. 

In case it fails, we'll email you that we were NOT able to transcode the video. You should then take these two quick diagnostic measures:

  1. Check if your product is published. We do not transcode videos from unpublished products. 
  2. Your video is not corrupt. To check, please download the exact same video file and try playing it on your laptop/desktop using a video player (VLC, for example).

Often times, video file issues can easily be resolved by using a program like Handbrake.

Adding Subtitles to Your Films

You can directly upload subtitle files to your video products. When you upload a video file, you will be able to open the drawer by clicking the drop-down arrow next to your file name. Click the "Add subtitles" button to upload a subtitle file.

You can also add subtitles at any time after publishing your product by clicking on your product.

We accept .SRT, .SUB, .SBV and .VTT (often called .WebVTT) formats. Add as many as you want. Miracle Tutorials offers a great lesson in creating subtitle files here

However, we recommend you use a .VTT format as that is most compatible with JW player, our video hosting platform.From JW Player 7.4 onward, you need to use the .VTT format, as SRT gives inconsistent results in full screen.

NOTE: If you send out a video file in a Post or Workflow email, you will also see the option to add subtitle files.

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