This guide will help you keep your video file size's down to a minimum whilst still maintaining high enough quality to be viewed online. This will make sending and uploading video files much easier and faster. Please note that these tips are aimed at videos where the purpose is more important than quality i.e instructional videos.
Important: Videos are one of the most challenging file types to upload to the Learning Space due to the 1GB file limit. For this reason please upload your video content to your University Microsoft Stream account and then provide a link to it in the Learning Space.
- Tools for Editing
- Reducing File Size
- Using a Video Encoder
- Video - Using Adobe Media Encoder
- Video - Using Handbrake
- Further Support
Tools for Editing
The tips in this guide are going to apply to most video editing applications. Most applications have the same basic output settings based on Quality and File Size but often differ slightly in their use of terminology. The more advanced applications like Premiere Pro offer more choices for exporting including various codecs and bitrate settings. We recommend the following applications.
- Adobe Premiere Pro
- Adobe Premiere Rush (easy/lightweight version of Premiere)
- iMovie (only on Macs)
- QuickTime (only on Macs)
- Before you proceed with any of these suggestions, be sure to keep a back up of your work as the quality of a video could potentially be lost permanently.
- It can be tempting to use 3rd party software that compresses files for you - but beware that many of these sites could infect your device with a virus.
Reducing File Size
There are a number of ways to decrease your video file size. Steps 1-3 will explain some of the simple options. Steps 4 and 5 will cover the more advanced settings which only apply to the advanced applications like Premiere Pro. Here are the first three simple contributing factors which determine your video file size in relation to its quality:
- Length of video: longer = bigger files.
- The number of pixels (resolution): larger = bigger files.
- The frame rate: higher = bigger files.
Step 1: Reduce video length
Remove any unnecessary footage from the final video. This can be achieved by trimming the beginning and end of the video as well as removing any long pauses throughout. You might also want to consider re-recording parts of the video that could be shortened.
Step 2: Lower video resolution
Rarely do videos need to be viewed in 1080p and for most case's 720p is a sufficient screen resolution. All of the applications we recommend allow you to adjust the resolution upon exporting the video.
Step 3. Frame rate
Common frame rates are 24, 25, 30 and 60 fps. It's best to export your video with the same frame rate as you shot and edited it in. Stick with the lower frame rates like 24 or 25 unless you have special slow-motion or animation footage which you filmed in 60fps.
Step 4. Advanced applications only: Use the right codec and file type
Always choose the codec H.264 with the output file type as MP4 as these are the standard for online videos due to file size and quality. In iMovie and Camtasia you will not have a choice of codecs but you will have a choice of compression and quality. In this instance, it is always best to choose the best quality option rather than the fastest option.
Step 5. Advanced applications only: Bitrate settings
Bitrate describes how much data a video file contains (measured on a per-second basis). In the more advanced editing applications like Premiere Pro, there is an option in the export window to change the bitrate settings. For 720p video's it is best to stick to the 2 pass variable bitrate (VBR 2) with a minimum target rate of 2 Mbps and a maximum bitrate of 3.
Important: This method is advanced and will require a good level of understanding of video compression and export settings. Please save your work in another location safely before adapting these advanced settings.
Using a Video Encoder to reduce a video's file size
If you still are not happy with the file size after exporting from your editing application then you can use a video encoder to further compress your video. If used correctly a video encoder will compress your video whilst maintaining its quality. We recommend two applications; Adobe Media Encoder and a free open-source application called Handbrake.
Video - Adobe Media Encoder
The Steps for compressing a video file in Adobe Media Encoder:
Step 1: Open up Adobe Media Encoder and in the 'Queue' window either drag and drop your video or press the plus icon to add your video file.
Step 2: If you need to change the output file destination then press the blue link in the 'Output File' column.
Step 3: Click on the blue link in the 'Preset' column which will open up the 'Export Settings' window.
Step 4: In the 'Export Settings' tab there is a dropdown entitled 'Format:' and in here select H.264. This is the standard codec for online video and will create an mp4 output file. Ensure that the tickboxes 'Export Video' and 'Export Audio' are ticked. In the dropdown entitled 'Preset:' choose either 'Match Source - High bitrate' or 'YouTube 720p HD'. There is also a 'YouTube 1080p Full HD' preset if your video needs to stay in 1080p.
Step 5: In the 'Video' tab scroll down to the section entitled 'Bitrate Settings' and from the dropdown 'Bitrate Encoding:' choose 'VBR, 2 pass'. Set the 'Target Bitrate [Mbps]:' slider to a minimum of 2 for 720p videos and 3 for 1080p. Set the 'Maximum Bitrate [Mbps]:' slider to a minimum of 3 for 720p videos and 4 for 1080p.
Step 6: Ensure the 'Use Maximum Render Quality' box is ticked and then hit 'OK'.
Step 7: In the 'Queue' window press the green play icon in the top right-hand corner and your video will start encoding and export to the destination you already set in Step 2.
Tip: If you have a static video with not a lot of visual movement this number can be decreased down to 1.5 for a 720p video. Play around with the 'Bitrate settings' to find the optimal setting for your workflow.
Video - Handbrake
The Steps for compressing a video file in Handbrake:
Step 1: Open up Handbrake. It will prompt you to browse and select the file you want to compress.
Step 2: Handbrake will choose a preset for you based on the properties of the video. A good preset to choose if your video is for streaming is "Fast 1080p30".
Step 3: Make sure the file format is MP4. Tick the box entitled "Web Optimised".
Step 4: Save your file appropriately and check the destination of your saved file.
Step 5: Hit the "Start" button and the video will start encoding.
Advanced Settings: If you want to get the file size down even more then go into the "Video" tab and tick the box entitled "Average Bitrate" and take the number down to anything from 1500 to 3000. It's always best to experiment with this setting as it depends on the content of your video.
For further support on Learning Space, or to report any issues with this guide, please get in touch with the Digital Learning Team via email@example.com. Alternatively, please refer to the numerous help guides found on our Knowledge Base.
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