How to Compress and Make Video Files Smaller

Nov 27, 2018 at 09:53 am by Submitted

Video Editing

Did you know that most of the video files you are likely to encounter have already been compressed? Lossless raw videos can require several gigabytes for each minute of video – which is why most videos that make their way to end users are already compressed.

Despite being compressed, video files can still be quite large. If you want to compress and make your video files smaller so that they can be transferred and distributed, or stored more easily – there are two main ways it can be done:

Transcode to a Codec with Better Compression

The video codec is the part of its format that encodes and compressed the video – and then decodes it for playback. Different video codecs use different types of compression, and some are able to compress videos more efficiently than others – without any loss of quality.

Because of that, transcoding the video to a codec with better compression is a good option and could significantly reduce its file size. For example, if your video uses the H.264 codec that is the most popular one nowadays, transcoding it to H.265 could reduce the file size of the video by up to half.

Before you transcode your video you need to make sure that the device you plan to watch it on supports the codec that you want to use. The best available codec for compression right now is H.265, but older devices may not support it.

In contrast, H.264 is not as efficient but enjoys close to universal support nowadays. If your video is using an older codec, you should certainly transcode it to H.264 at very least.

Lower the Video Bitrate

video bitrate is literally the amount of data that the video utilizes each second, and as a result, its file size is ultimately the bitrate multiplied by the duration of the video. 

By lowering the bitrate even slightly you could reduce the file size of your video by a significant margin. That being said as you lower the bitrate the video’s quality will be affected and if it gets too low different types of compression artifacts will appear.

If you choose to use this method, you should carefully lower the bitrate in increments and observe how it affects the quality of the video. For long videos, you may want to cut out a shorter segment and use it as a test so that it is faster.

At the end of the day, your goal should be to reduce the file size as much as you can without the quality deteriorating to the point where the video is unwatchable.

Final Words

It should be noted that technically you could reduce the file size of your video by shortening its duration – and it may even be a good option in some cases. Suffice to say instead of keeping an hour-long video around when you’re only interested in a 5-minute segment, you could just cut out that segment and discard the rest.

If you want to compress your videos in any of the ways described above, however, you’ll need a tool to transcode and adjust the video settings. For example, you could use Movavi Video Converter, as it will make it easy to learn how to convert MOV to MP4 with H.264 – or any other codec you need.

Now that you know how to reduce the size of your videos, you can decide which method you prefer. Always try to store the original video even after you’ve converted it, however – just in case you ever need a less-compressed version with better quality. 

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