How To Compress Video For Web

We all want to post our videos to the web, but size is often a problem. Bandwidth can be limited depending on where you are accessing the internet from, and streaming a  high resolution HD video just isn’t possible without a good internet connection.

For example, a 10-minute video clip that is not compressed could be at or around 800MB (or more). 800MB!? Yep, you read that right.

That is almost a gig of data you would have to stream from a server! I will save you the technical specifications, but if you’ve ever had trouble sending a 50MB file via email, trying to stream a 800MB video file will give you some problems.

Optimum compression settings will squeeze that file down to about 9-15MB, which will result in a faster upload speed, and most importantly, a much faster download speed for your users.

What Software Do I Use To Compress Video For Web?

There are tens of thousands of programs that compress video out there, but most of them are garbage, to be completely honest. The two main video compression tools I recommend are Sorenson Squeeze (for Windows users) and Adobe Media Encoder for those on a Mac, although you can use Adobe Media Encoder on both PC and Mac. They both support a wide variety of video formats and provide you with the most professional quality.

I prefer the ease of use, flexibility and speed of Adobe Media Encoder. Sorenson Squeeze is a great compression tool, but in my experience it is significantly slower and not as stable. For those of you on a budget, there are also great tools like MPEG Streamclip and the IPOD Video Converter that will allow you to convert most commonly used video for web.

Basic Video Compression Settings

The following settings work best for making video that is approximately 320px X 240px and will work fine for the average end user just looking to embed a video into their blog, or to be uploaded to other video sharing sites like YouTube or Blip.tv.

WINDOWS MOVIE MAKER

When exporting video, choose:

>Video for broadband (512 Kbps)

*This makes a .wmv file compatible with Windows Media Player.

iMOVIE

When exporting video, choose:

>Choose the iPod setting

*After the file has been saved, edit the file name to change the file extension from .m4v to .mp4 (some web servers do not recognize .m4v) This will make an .mp4 file compatible with QuickTime Player.

Adobe Media Encoder

When exporting video, choose:

>Format >Choose the FLV | F4V Setting

>Preset >Choose “Web Medium Flash 8 or Higher”

*After the file has been saved, edit the file name to change the file extension from .f4v to .flv (some web servers do not recognize .f4v) This will make an .f4v file compatible with most common players as well.

Advanced Settings

The following is a tutorial on how to export your video in Adobe Media Encoder. In my personal opinion it is one of the best overall video compression tools available. If you need more fine tuned control over your aspect ratios, bitrate and audio quality, you may want to edit your export settings to get the best results. Here is an overview of the settings I use to stream video:

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1. Open up Adobe Media Encoder and Select “Add.” Once you have navigated to the video file you want to use, select the source and the file will load into Adobe Media Encoder.

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2.  Once the video source you want to compress is loaded, roll over the “Format” arrow and choose the FLV | F4V setting.

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3. Roll over the “Preset” arrow next to your selected source file and choose “Edit Export Settings.”

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4. Just below the Export Settings area, you will see 5 tabs,  “Filters,” “Format,” “Video,” “Audio” and “Others.” Choose the “Format” tab and in the area that says “Multiplexing,” select “FLV.”

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5. Now choose the “Video” tab and in the “Basic Video Settings” area, select the size you want your video to be. I usually leave this the same as the source unless the video is in an odd aspect ratio.

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6. In the “Frame Rate” setting select “ 29.97” for the best quality. You may take the frame rate down further to optimize your video, but the lower the frame rate, the choppier the video will be. 

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7. IMPORTANT! This is where most people have problems! Under “Bitrate Settings,” make sure your bitrate is no more than 400kbps, because anything higher will cause your video to stagger while playing.

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8. Now navigate to the “Audio” tab and choose “Stereo.”

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9. In the “Audio” tab, you will see “Bitrate Settings.” This is also very important, as the bitrate of your audio can significantly add to your file size. Make sure you choose “96” kbps for best results.

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10. Select “OK” in the “Edit Export Settings,” and you’re good to go! Make sure you know where your output source is going, and select “Start Queue.” That’s it! Once your video is compressed, open it up to inspect the quality. Make sure the file size doesn’t go over 9-15MB. Anything larger and you might get some latency on a shared server.

Conclusion

It is important to note that people without broadband connections will still experience latency even with the settings I have provided. Videos that are longer than 10 minutes will often be over 20MB no matter how much you compress them. At some point, when you compress a video too much, it loses quality and becomes less engaging to watch. Finding a good balance of quality and low file size is usually best. Until next time, stay righteous.

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Analytics & AdWords certified growth engineer with over a decade experience in making businesses successful. I own and operate AXZM and often speak at top national industry conferences on the topics of strategy, design and marketing technology. Work with me or learn more about me here. Follow me @nawlready

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