How Compress Video Files and Make Footage Smaller

If you've ever had to upload a video online, you know that video file sizes can vary wildly, and often, it isn't immediately clear why that is. So today, we'll be discussing how to make video file sizes smaller and what software to use. We'll dive into the world of compression, bit-rate, codecs, and more.

So, what makes video file sizes so big? The main contributing factor is the bit rate it's encoded at. Bit rate is the amount of data the video uses per second when it's played back. The higher the bit-rate, the higher the quality of the video, but the cost is a larger file size. 

The codec you choose is also important. Some codecs are ideal for editing or finalizing your video — such as Apple ProRes — and others are ideal for uploading online — such as H.264.

If you're planning on uploading a video online, you don't want a file size that's going to take all day to upload. So, you'll likely go with a codec like H.264, combined with a medium-to-lower bit-rate. 

While services like YouTube explain that bitrate is dependent on codec and that there is no recommended minimum value, bitrates of 50 or 80Mbps are usually recommended for online videos.

But, what about video compression? To make a video file smaller, you can choose a codec that's ideal for streaming online, combined with a medium-to-low data bit-rate. If you adjust other settings, you can get more mileage out of your video files with lower bit-rates. For example, a 720p video at 8 Mbps compared to a 1080p HD video at 8 Mbps. Both videos have the same bit-rate, but the 720p doesn't have to distribute it over as much resolution.

While much of the focus is on video compression, don't forget to pay attention to the audio quality as well. Lowering the audio bit-rate can help reduce the file size, but you don't want to lower it so much that it affects the quality of the audio. Make sure to find a good balance between file size and audio quality.

Now, let's talk about the tools you can use to make a video file smaller. Adobe Media Encoder and HandBrake are two popular encoders available. Adobe Media Encoder is included with an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, and HandBrake is a free, open-source video encoder.

Using Adobe Media Encoder, you can launch the Media Encoder application, then add your video to the queue, select H.264 under the Format tab, and select a preset depending on how much compression you need. You can also customize the export settings for something specific.

Using HandBrake, you can drag-and-drop the video file you'd like to compress onto the app, select a preset under the General tab, make changes under the Video tab, optimize the video even more by setting the Encoder Preset speed to a slower setting, and set the file destination and name.

Sometimes you don't need compression tools. There are other ways you can make video files smaller, such as trimming the video or reducing the resolution. 

Keep in mind that reducing the resolution will result in lower quality video. Also, the best way to make video files smaller is to find a balance between file size and video quality.

When it comes to trimming your video, you can remove any unnecessary footage that is adding to the file size without contributing to the content of the video. This can be done in most video editing software programs.

Reducing the resolution of the video is also a great way to reduce the file size. But reducing the resolution too much will result in lower quality video.

In conclusion, making video file sizes smaller is important for uploading and sharing videos online for monetization purposes or for collaboration. By using compression, adjusting bitrate and codec, and choosing the right software tools, you can create smaller video files without sacrificing quality. You can even make your video so small it can fit into an email.