How To Prep Your Film For VOD

In the past, I was the Director of Operations for a company called Distribber. For those of you who don’t know, Distribber is a VOD aggregator. (And in full disclosure, they pay me to promote.)

During my time there, I learned that each video on demand platform is focused on providing the best viewing experience for their audience. And as a result, the biggest bottle-neck between the filmmaker and the VOD marketplace is not anything overly top secret. It is simply quality control and the encoding process.

If you have a title that you would like to sell, make sure your submission conforms to spec. This increases your chance of a successful QC. Many submissions get kicked back to the filmmaker because the source material contains errors or is not delivered in the proper format. And having even one wacky frame can significantly delay the QC process.

How To Prep Your Film For VOD

So if you are prepping your film for VOD distribution, make sure your editor outputs to the following Distribber specs.

  • For delivering your FEATURE in SD on tape, make sure it is Digibeta.
  • You may deliver your TRAILER either on a Digibeta or as a file on a CD.
  • Deliver your feature and trailer as Pro-Res files on a hard drive:

For SD:

  • File: Pro Res 422 HQ
  • 720 × 480 – aspect defined 16:9 = 853 × 480 / 4:3 = 640 × 480
  • Native Frame Rate
  • Film: 23.98
  • Video: 29.97i
  • Audio: PCM Little Endian
  • Ch. 1 left, Ch. 2 right – Each audio channel needs to be its own track

For HD:

  • File: Pro Res 422 HQ
  • 1920 × 1080
  • Native Frame Rate
  • Film: 23.98
  • Video:29.97i
  • Audio: Must have 8 channels of audio (5.1 – L, R, C, LFE, Ls, Rs / PCM Little Endian / Each audio channel needs to be its own track) OR (Ch. 7 stereo left, Ch. 8 stereo right / PCM Little Endian / Each audio channel needs to be its own track.)

In addition to conforming to the specs, you must also make sure that your source is free from hiccups and strange artifacts. Some common examples are: ghosting, inconsistent frame rates and repeating frames. You may not think that one or two frames is a big deal. But the platforms do. And they will reject your material at the first sign of trouble. This is a pain. And I want to help you avoid filmmaking pain.

Also, as a side note, please keep in mind that getting your movie into the marketplace does not guarantee that people will actually find your movie. For that, I suggest you do find out how to market and sell your movie.


  1. ahmad says

    Hi Jason! Great great information but I am kind of lost on two things first is video:29.97i what does that mean like if am recording on 24fps then what should I do with video:29.97i or is it for documentaries? and second thing is audio recording I am totally lost on 8 channels and so on any help?

  2. Paul says

    Hi Jason, so would you say that this would be the perfect platform for someone trying to sell stock footage, or is it still better to team up with the big boys like ITN Source for the generic stuff and the smaller niche footage specialists for a steady trickle of income?

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