Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Necessary Evils of Video Compression

Compressing video is terrible. You spend an absurd amount of time finessing and tweaking your short film just for it to look like some washed out, pixilated shell of its former self. Of course, by “short film” I mean footage of your best friend hurting himself in some hilarious yet life altering way.

There are as many opinions about video compression as there are for making a Thanksgiving turkey, who made those crop cycles, and which presidents were in the Illuminati. This is just the best way I have found to compress video for the internet after trying a lot of time consuming and frustrating methods. I’m sure there are some who will read this and have all sorts of rage to share on the subject, but they can write it on their own blog.

Most of this comes from advice I received from our friend Coplin. At his suggestion I started using Compressor for all our compressing needs. If you are using Final Cut Pro to edit your video, which is my recommendation for almost all low budget productions, then you probably already have Compressor. It is a program that comes with the Final Cut Suite. It’s easy to use and produces great results. If you don’t have Compressor, find the guy who installed it on you computer or burned you the disc and have him give you this too. It’s worth it.

So from your Final Cut sequence, make sure you don’t have an in or out marked and go to > File menu > Export > Using Compressor. This will open compressor and place you sequence in the Batch Window.

In the Setting Window find the plain old h.264 preset. Depending on which version of Compressor you’re using, it should be under Apple > Formats > Quicktime.

H.264 is by far the best codec for the internet. It gives you more bang for your buck: quality vs. file size.

From here hit the Encoder tab in the Inspector window and adjust your audio and video settings.

Under video just move the quality slider to just above medium.

You want your audio to be AAC, Mono, 44 khz. This should be plenty of quality for internet use.

Now go to Geometry tab in the Inspector window ad make your dimensions width 640 x height 360 for 16:9 or width 640 x height 480 for 4:3.

That’s it. Hit the Submit button and you’re done. Enjoy uploading all that footage of getting kicked in the balls.

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