Creating videos have become so easy today, what with smartphones offering some really powerful and intuitive tools for the purpose. But no matter whether you are recording a video from a smartphone or a camcorder, when it comes to sharing them you may encounter a problem. The video files are too large to enable easy sharing leaving you with the task of compressing them before upload. In this tutorial, we will explain to you a little bit about how compression works and how you can compress video files without sacrificing quality.
How Video Compression Works
Videos generally take up a lot of space in its original uncompressed state because it packs in a lot of frames per second, which gives it an impression of movement while playing. Typically a camcorder can take up as much as 17MB per second of video so you can imagine how heavy your video will be when you’re done.
Video compression is the process of reducing the amount of space the data takes up without impacting its quality. In order to accomplish this, applications called codecs are used. They basically analyze a video frame by frame and break them down into what is called macroblocks. These macroblocks are basically square blocks of 4 pixels each. The codec analyzes these macroblocks and looks for changes in them. When it encounters several continuous frames of macroblocks with no changes it may decide to remove these frames thus reducing the overall file size.
Types of Compression
There are two types of compression; lossy and lossless. In the case of lossy compression, some data is lost during compression and the compressed file may be of lower quality. A typical example is DVDs that are compressed using MPEG-2 format, which reduces the files to about 15 to 30 times smaller size, and although lossy compression is involved here, we hardly notice the loss of data.
In lossless compression no data is lost. However this may result in the data often being almost the same size as before compression. Nevertheless, in a lossless compression, the picture quality is maintained as is, such as when you transfer video files from one PC to another using a hard drive and you are not too concerned about file size. Lossless compression can be easily compared to a ZIP or RAR file compression.
Compress Video Files Using Handbrake
Once you have decided how you want your video compressed, you can make use of several compression software tools in the market to compress your videos. In this tutorial, I’ll compress a 160 MB video file using Handbrake, which is by far one of the best free open source program to compress video files.
1. Download Handbrake for Windows from their official website.
2. Double click the EXE file and run through the installation wizard. This should be a clean install completed in a few seconds.
3. Open the application. Click Source->Open file and navigate to the video location. Select the video and click Open.
4. Now in Handbrake, select the destination where the compressed file will be placed. Click Browse and select a new folder location if you so desire. If you don’t enter a location here, the application will save the file in the same location from where you retrieved it.
5. In Output settings, select MP4 if it is not selected and then select Web Optimized.
6. Next, select the Video tab, and ensure that H.264(X264) is selected.
7. Click Start (at the top of the screen) to compress the video. The Start button will now turn red and stay red until the compression is complete. When it turns green, it indicates that the compression is complete and you can go and view it in the saved location. The 161 MB file has now been reduced to 13 MB. The entire process took less than a minute to complete, but if you’re having larger files, it may take just a little bit longer.
If you want to compress multiple videos for transfer to another device such as a smartphone, you can do it using Handbrake. Here is the process.
How to Compress Multiple Videos At Once
1. The first thing you need to do when you’re compressing video files using Handbrake is set the folder where the queue will save the output files. If you don’t do this right away, you will get an error during the process. Click Tools->Options to open the preferences.
2. In the Preferences section, click Output Files and then click the Browse button.
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3. In the next window, select the folder where you want your compressed files to be automatically saved. Click Select Folder and then click Close to close the Preferences section.
4. Now you can start adding videos to the queue. On the Handbrake home page, click Source and select Open folder if all the videos to be compressed are placed in one location. If there are in different locations, click Open file and add the individual files from the different locations. You can click the Title drop-down list to check if all your files have been added.
5. You can see from the screenshot below that our folder has 12 files in all totaling over 4.32 GB.
6. Now, on the right panel, in the Presets section, click iPhone & iPad Touch if you want to compress to your iOS device or iPad. You can choose the other options if you are planning to transfer the compressed videos to Android, or Android tablet.
7. Click Add to Queue -> Add All to add all your files to the queue.
8. Click Show queue.
In the Queue window, you will notice options to preset after the encoding is done. Click the When Done drop down list and you’ll be able to shutdown your PC after the task is complete, or hibernate, log off, quit handbrake, suspend, or lock system after the job is processed. These options allow you to start the compression maybe at night and let it shut down after the task is done, saving you the trouble of having to wake up after a few hours to shut off the PC. Also in the Queue window are options to remove titles and edit individual files.
Now click Start when you are ready.
The process of compressing multiple videos at once isn’t by any means a quick process. A 1.3GB file took about half an hour for me to finish but this will vary depending on the size of the files and the speed of your PC.
After the whole process was completed, we were able to save more than 50% space as you can see the file sizes have dropped to 1.97 GB.
You are now ready to move your files to your smartphone. You can make use of the FileDrop app to effortlessly move files between your PC and Android or AirDrop to move stuff to your iOS device.
So the next time you want to compress video files just use Handbrake and follow the steps outlined in this tutorial.
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