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How to reduce large video file sizes without losing quality?

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Neil Orman
How to reduce large video file sizes without losing quality?
on Jan 5, 2017 at 7:03:45 pm

Hi,
I'd be grateful for any advice here. I googled this topic and read suggestions to use apps like Handbrake, but wondered how current that advice is and if there are better methods. I'm running into this with super long videos especially, those of an hour or more. Again I'm trying to keep the file sizes from being so huge while still maintaining quality, or at least keeping it as good/clear as possible.
Much appreciated,
Neil


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Craig Seeman
Re: How to reduce large video file sizes without losing quality?
on Jan 5, 2017 at 8:06:17 pm

Reducing the size means losing quality. That's the nature of lossy compression. One hopes it's not noticeable though. Throwing out data/information is just that though.

In order to solve a problem you must describe the goal. WHY do you want to reduce the file size? If smaller isn't required, avoid it. Hard drives are cheap. Quality loss, on the other hand, is irretrievable.

Without explaining WHY you could be heading in a wrong and destructive direction.



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Neil Orman
Re: How to reduce large video file sizes without losing quality?
on Jan 5, 2017 at 10:40:32 pm

Thanks for the response, Craig. I hear you and usually don't try to reduce file size, but with some extremely long videos of multiple hours, I can get file sizes of 10+ gigbytes. So that starts to fill up my external hard-drive pretty fast, and sometimes these are videos where the viewers actually care more about the audio. I hear you about hard-drives being relatively cheap though. I've also wondered what the impact is of reducing, in the compression settings, things like the video's target bit rate? I assume that would fall in the destructive category too right?
Much appreciated,
Neil


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Craig Seeman
Re: How to reduce large video file sizes without losing quality?
on Jan 5, 2017 at 11:04:44 pm

[Neil Orman] " hear you and usually don't try to reduce file size"

I do for web use or for sending clients screening copies via Dropbox or some equivalent.

[Neil Orman] "I can get file sizes of 10+ gigbytes. So that starts to fill up my external hard-drive pretty fast"

You could make proxies. On Mac I'd use Apple ProRes Proxy. On Windows it may depend on the NLE but low quality DNxHD or maybe MJPEG... something an NLE can handle more easily than H.264.

You mention "viewers" but it's unclear how you are delivering to them. That might be web (and delivery specs may vary by CDN) or it may be handing out USB Thumb Drives.

If a CDN is delivering them they will usually recompress them so you actually want to give them much larger higher quality files.

If you're delivering thumb drives you have to consider the broad range of computers.

BTW some deliver "mobile" files for iOS or Android playback and that may be another spec depending on the range of devices.

If you look at the top of this forum you'll see a sticky post I made. How to get FASTEST compression help - PLEASE READ it includes all the things you need to consider including the Target.



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Neil Orman
Re: How to reduce large video file sizes without losing quality?
on Jan 6, 2017 at 6:30:01 pm

Thanks so much for the great info here Craig, and especially for referring to that sticky note on compression help, which I'll be sure to check out. Sorry for the incomplete info - I work as a video producer a think tank, and make different kinds of videos here. Everything is uploaded to our Youtube channel. For some of these videos the audio is actually primary and the visual isn't as important - it's usually some kind of static graphic. A lot of those are for internal audiences here. But I also make marketing videos here for more of an external audience. It's mainly for the first type of videos, the internal ones for which the visual is somewhat secondary, that I was originally asking the question about reducing the file sizes.

But this is all great info, because I also made videos outside my job here, and I've been a little foggy on certain aspects of compression for a while!

Much appreciated again,
Neil


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Craig Seeman
Re: How to reduce large video file sizes without losing quality?
on Jan 6, 2017 at 9:29:23 pm

[Neil Orman] "Everything is uploaded to our Youtube channel."

YouTube has recommended specs for uploaded videos. Keep in mind they will recompress them so their specs are designed to give the best results for their encoders.



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Craig Seeman
Re: How to reduce large video file sizes without losing quality?
on Jan 6, 2017 at 9:36:32 pm

[Neil Orman] "For some of these videos the audio is actually primary and the visual isn't as important - it's usually some kind of static graphic. "

Are they going to YouTube? Do you need them to be legible? Keep in mind YouTube will crush them again so what you produce might look good on your desktop but look horrible once YouTube compresses them again. You're going to have to test. Best to avoid serifed fonts, thin lines in graphics, use solid colors instead of gradients.

[Neil Orman] "the internal ones for which the visual is somewhat secondary, that I was originally asking the question about reducing the file sizes."

But that depends on how they are viewed and on what. 10 year old Windows XP computers? Quad i7 computers? Android devices. Played over your LAN or on desktop.

What's the best car? Are you driving off terrain? The Autobahn, small streets Europe, the Indy 500, is mileage important?
Sorry but "internal" doesn't describe the technological requirements.

Sorry to be a bug about this but in ANY client delivery situation (and "internal" is a client) you MUST consider all variables and assume the client may not even be aware of them.



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