The largest files that many people have to deal with are often video files. It could be videos that you recorded yourself, were sent or downloaded.
Because they are so large, it can be difficult to manage them. Both storing and transferring videos is often a problem because of their file size, especially on devices with limited storage or using up online bandwidth.
That is why you may want to reduce the size of your video files and make them more manageable. The good news is that it is definitely possible to do that, and there are several ways that you could go about it.
Compress the Video Using a Different Codec
Almost all the videos that you encounter have probably already been compressed to make it possible to store and deliver them more easily. Uncompressed videos are notoriously large, and can take up several GB per minute of video – so you really can’t miss them.
Despite the fact that your video is compressed, it may be possible to compress it further by converting its codec. Newer codecs often have better compression rates than older codecs and are able to reduce the file size of videos while maintaining their quality.
For this option to work you need to identify the current codec the video is using, find a codec with better compression than it, and make sure that codec is supported by the device it can be viewed on.
If that sounds too complicated, an easier option is to check for HEVC support on the device that it will be viewed on and convert to it if it is supported. If not, the next best option is probably H.264 – which will definitely be supported and can significantly compress older formats (MPEG-4, MPEG-2, and DivX).
Lower the Video Bitrate Setting
A more universal way to reduce the size of video files is to lower the video bitrate setting. It is a setting that determines the amount of data the video uses each second, and so the file size of the video is literally its bitrate multiplied by its duration (in seconds).
While you can lower the bitrate on any video, doing so will affect its quality. The optimal bitrate that a video requires varies depending on its codec, resolution, and frame rate.
If the video bitrate is significantly lower than optimal levels, the quality will be visibly poorer. In particular, different types of compression artifacts will start to appear in the video.
Assuming you do use this option, it is best to lower the video bitrate gradually. If the video is long, you may want to extract a sample and test several bitrates on it as that can be faster.
Ultimately the goal will be to find a balance between the file size and video quality.
Other Options to Reduce Video File Sizes
Aside from the two main options listed above, there are technically other ways that you can reduce the file size of your video – but they are situational at best. Some of the ways that you could try are to:
- Trim out unwanted parts of the video or extract highlight clips if you’re not really interested in the entire video. The shorter clips will have smaller file sizes.
- Extract the audio track if that is the main part that you’re interested in. For example, if you use a MOV to MP3 converter online such as Online Video Converter.
- Downscale the resolution if it is going to be viewed on a device with a lower-resolution screen. That will allow you to use a lower bitrate as well.
As you can see each of these options will only work in specific cases, and so you can’t really rely on them regularly.
Keep in mind that most of the options listed above aren’t mutually exclusive, and you can use them in conjunction with one another.
For example, you may be able to significantly reduce the file size of a video if you trim out the parts that you don’t need, convert it to a codec with better compression, and then reduce its bitrate.
That is the main reason why it is good to know all your options, so you can then decide which ones to use. At the end of the day that should allow you to ensure that your video ends up as small as possible, while still maintaining as much of its quality as you can at the same time.