Often times your video editing software will spit out uncompressed video files that are hundreds (even thousands!) of megabytes in size. If you’re going to be putting these videos online, you’ll need to reduce their file sizes significantly but without reducing their quality too much. This is where compression comes in.
Smaller file sizes means your videos load more quickly thus giving your viewers a better user experience. It also means you’re moving smaller volumes of data through your Amazon S3 or CloudFront accounts, which can save you a lot of money depending on the size of your viewership.
Finally, you’ll need to make sure that the newly compressed videos will play iPhones, iPads, tablets and on most other devices and browsers. We want as many people as possible to be able to view your videos, regardless of the device or browser they’re using.
This short tutorial is going to show you how to manually compress your videos in preparation for streaming with Amazon S3, CloudFront and JWPlayer as described in this tutorial (opens in a new tab). This tutorial assumes that your videos are not yet compressed OR have been compressed poorly.
*A huge thanks goes to Rudolf Boogerman and his in-depth explanation of Handbrake. I learned this method from him and you can find his much more in-depth guide here (opens in a new tab).
Compressing Your Vids
1. Download HandBrake (opens in a new tab), a free video compression app for PC and Mac. Install it.
2. Open HandBrake. As soon as HandBrake opens it will prompt you for a source video file. Select a video file you’d like to compress. The file I’ve selected for this tutorial is 724 megabytes, so let’s see what kind of file size reduction we can get.
3. Update the video settings to the ones picture below (click for the full size image).
4. Click on the “Audio” tab and update to the settings pictured below.
5. Click on the “Advanced” tab and update to the settings pictured below.
6. Click on the “Toggle Presets” icon in the upper right hand corner to display the presets menu.
7. Click on the little plus sign at the bottom of the presets menu. Name the preset anything you wish. I named mine “Online Video”.
6. Where it says “Destination”, select the folder that you want the newly compressed video to get saved to.
Although you can name the file anything you wish, it’s a good idea to use a naming convention of some kind so you don’t get confused.
For example, if your source file is called “my-great-movie.avi“, name your destination file “compressed-my-great-movie.mp4“. This let’s you quickly see which files have been compressed and which files haven’t just by glancing at the names. Note that your destination files should always end in “.mp4”
7. Click on the “Start” icon.
Once Handbrake finishes compressing your file, you can compare file sizes between your original “raw” video and the newly compressed version. As I mentioned earlier, the file I selected for the purpose of this tutorial was a whopping 724 Megabytes. The compressed file came out to 70 megabytes. That’s almost a 90% reduction in file size with only a small loss of video quality!
This compression method is really only necessary if you plan on using JWPlayer or similar to set up your streaming video. If you prefer a simpler, drag and drop solution that takes care of all this stuff for you, check out my preferred solution, EasyVideoSuite.