Instagram’s Default Video Thumbnail Frame

Posted on April 20, 2017 by Chris Duke
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What is Instagram’s default video thumbnail frame?

That’s the question I asked Google and to my surprise, there were no answers. There were a lot of tutorials about how to select a frame using the Instagram app, but what if you want to “bake in” the thumbnail frame, instead of trying to select it? Instagram’s frame selector is fine for most purposes, but for longer videos it can be hard to nail the right frame, scrubbing with your finger.

My assumption was that it was the first frame, and here’s why. If you forget to select the thumbnail via the Instagram app, you get a black frame. That’s because most video editing apps fade in from black. That’s the solid black frame. If you didn’t edit the video and it’s a quick selfie video, well then it’s still just the first frame. But maybe it isn’t?

I set out to test my theory by creating a 3 second video, with the first 10 frames being numbered, then posting it to Instagram. You can’t upload a video shorter than 3 seconds, so I had to pad it. You can download my test video, below, and try it out yourself in case you want to try it out with other social media platforms.

As I suspected, Instagram is using frame #1. What this means is that if you are shooting a video on the fly with your smartphone, it will be using the very first frame. If you are editing a video, add one frame to the beginning that will act as your automatic Instagram thumbnail for your video.

If you’d like to download my test video (complete with timecode), use the link below.

Got any questions to ask or tips to share? Please comment below.

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