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Advice On Compressing/Distributing a 40GB Documentary Film

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Steve CrowAdvice On Compressing/Distributing a 40GB Documentary Film
by on Oct 26, 2011 at 10:21:57 pm

I have a rough edit of my documentary that was shot on a Canon T2i HD DSLR. The camera raw footage was, of course, H.264 and when converted to ProRes the file size of the "master" exported directly off the Final Cut Pro timeline is 38GB for an 84 minute film. The "master" ProRes file is 1280x720p at 24fps.

I am trying to compress that 38GB file down to something more manageable for distribution and so far have had only limited success.

Quicktime Pro: Quicktime Pro just gave up, it very quickly got to 2% complete but then never progressed beyond that, it just froze.

MPEG Streamclip: Got the file size down to 16GB using the mpeg 4/H.264 combination but encountered some problems with a couple clips losing audio sync. I rebuilt those clips from scratch thinking something might have been wrong with the clip themselves and am now re-exporting. This time I choose to export at 960x540 resolution (still mpeg4/H.264) and I anticipate it's going to come out at around 10GB which is still HUGE.

Should I try Compressor? Are there any tricks other film producers use? Here are my distribution goals. I want to be able to distribute my doc on:

* standard DVD which means I have to get it down to 4GB at 720x480 MPEG2 resolution.

* Ideally I would love to also have the option to distribute a HD version on disc even if it's just copying the file to a DVD data disc

* Vimeo was going to be my primary distribution method but even a 4GB file would take several days to upload over my pathetic DSL internet connection

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Angelo LorenzoRe: Advice On Compressing/Distributing a 40GB Documentary Film
by on Oct 31, 2011 at 5:24:02 pm

For DVD, unless you're packing the disc with extras, you're looking at a bitrate of around 7mbps which is quite near the high end limit of DVD quality.

In regards to a 720p24 deliverable, you might have to bump it up to 7.5-8mbps using h.268 (h.264 is more efficient than the older MPEG2 and that gives the smallest file of acceptable quality) which still gives you a ~6-7gig sized file.

I prefer command line encoders as they usually have more features. I like doing 2-pass variable bitrate encoding for delivered files, and with h.264 I like setting a smaller quantization max value like 35 (I think the default is 63) as it seems to cut down artifacts.

In regards to uploading it... not much you can do to get around it. Video is big and will always be big. Try your local library or community college. Chances are they'll be on an enterprise grade connection and upload speeds will be much more manageable.

Angelo Lorenzo - Helping you sell your film online

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Ken MitchellRe: Advice On Compressing/Distributing a 40GB Documentary Film
by on Nov 25, 2011 at 11:05:25 pm

For distribution. try .mp4 h264 1280x720 at about 3000k. Unless you have a huge amount of motion it should look fine.If not try bumping it up to 4000k.

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Steve CrowRe: Advice On Compressing/Distributing a 40GB Documentary Film
by on Nov 26, 2011 at 2:38:38 am

Thanks guys for all the feedback, much appreciated!!!!

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