5 Tips to Reduce Video File Size without Losing Quality

One of the biggest problems facing the video streaming industry is the cost of storing all the video assets. There are a number of factors that contribute to this problem starting from the size of the original videos, the size of the transcoding files, the multiple copies that need to be stored for HLS & DASH and DRM, etc. In addition to increasing the storage costs, the size of each video asset also impacts the CDN delivery costs.

Due to all these implications, it is important to reduce the size of a video without hurting the quality. In this blog post, we talk about a few techniques that you can employ to reduce the size of the video without video quality loss!

1. Switch to a New-Generation Video Codec

Switching to a newer video codec can help reduce video file size. While most of the industry still uses H.264/AVC because of its widespread device support, companies are seeing merit in moving to “newer” codecs such as VP9, HEVC, AV1. These codecs produce smaller files than their predecessors and this is especially important for people dealing with large videos that need to be stored or transmitted at a lower cost and in less time.

If you’re interested in learning more, here is a comparison of a few of the new codecs on the horizon – EVC, LCEVC, and VVC.

The flip side of the argument is that these codecs are yet to be widely adopted across browsers, devices; have patent issues and lawsuits pending; and very confusing royalty deals.

So before making the switch to a next-gen video codec, please ensure that you have considered encoding costs, decoding support on your target devices, and royalty implications!

2. Changing the Settings on Your Video Transcoding Tool / Software

Another option to reduce the size of a video file without sacrificing video quality is to use better video codec settings. For example, if you are using FFmpeg or Handbrake, then you have a choice of presets from veryslow to veryfast and these presets enables different encoding tools and algorithms which balance video quality, encoding speed, and consequently the size of the video file.

If you have sufficient computing power, then it is worth exploring a slower presets or enabling more encoding tools to make your video files smaller which maintaining the video quality!

Here is a quick tutorial on video compression using Handbrake.

3. Reduce the Video’s Resolution

Another way to reduce video file size is by reducing the video’s resolution. And this is a simple trick that can help quite a bit if your target audience is only going to watch your movies on a mobile phone and doesn’t really need 1080p or 4K videos!

You can reduce your video’s file size using your camera settings, using software like Adobe Premiere Pro CC, or simply using FFmpeg. Here is a straightforward guide on changing the resolution of your videos using FFmpeg.

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4. Reduce the Amount of Motion While Shooting the Video

Another way to reduce video file size is by reducing the amount of motion while shooting the video. This can be done with a tripod, Steadicam, or using your hands and body instead of pans (moving from side to side).

For example, if you were making an instructional cooking show on YouTube that included many shots where the camera is only pointed at the food, using a trip can reduce movement. This (reduced motion), in turn, is useful in reducing the file size because the compression algorithm’s motion estimation module can do a great job in reducing the size of the file.

5. Reduce the Frame Rate of your Video to Reduce Its Size

We’ve talked about many different things you can do to reduce the file size of your video in this blog post. But one thing we haven’t done yet is reducing the frame rate (fps) of the video itself. This number indicates the number of frames every second. We recommend shooting with an fps setting that matches or exceeds 30 frames per second, but smaller frame rates can be beneficial in reducing the size of your videos. This is because, logically speaking, you are reducing the number of frames in the video – so, fewer the frames, smaller the size of the video!

For example, if you have 60 fps content, you can try to reduce it to 30 fps and see if it impacts the video quality and viewing experience. If you try this trick on a large enough sample set and see that it does not impact quality and the user experience, then its something worth exploring!

Bonus Tip: Decrease quality settings on an editing software, such as lessening sharpness, contrast, and saturation levels

Lastly, here is a bonus tip to reduce the video’s file size!

If you are editing your video in software such as Adobe Premiere Pro CC, it is possible to decrease the quality settings like sharpness, contrast, and saturation levels. Pay attention that when adjusting these qualities too much or decreasing the resolution of a clip below 720p HD, there will be less detail on the screen.

However, if your audience is predominantly going to consume video on a small screen like a mobile phone, with 3/4G connections, then this is a small trick that you can use to reduce the size of the videos.

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