How do I reduce the size of an MP4 file?
MP4 is one of the most popular formats on YouTube. It's also used in web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera to save videos. But what if you want to upload or share it online but don't have enough space? That could mean losing views or subscribers!
Even though MP4 has been around since 2004, there are still many people who aren't familiar with how they work. We're here to help explain everything about this versatile format so you know exactly how to shrink down your MP4s without compromising quality—and we'll even show you some great tools to use right now.
So let's get started by taking a closer look at why MP4 becomes so big...
Why does my MP4 become huge?
Your MP4 might be getting too bulky because of its resolution, frame rate, or bitrate. For example, if you've recorded high-quality footage from a DSLR camera, then these settings will consume more disk space than necessary. If you're not sure where to start reducing MP4 sizes, take a look at our guide below.
Does compressing a video file reduce quality?
When you record a movie using higher-than-necessary resolutions, frame rates, or bitrates, those settings are saved into the actual file itself. This means that every time someone watches the video, their computer must load all of that information instead of just relying on your internet connection. The same thing goes for audio. So while you may think that compressing a video reduces overall quality, that isn't necessarily true. In fact, depending on the situation, it might actually increase quality.
Nowadays, almost everyone uses 1080p HD (high definition) cameras which produce massive amounts of data. A good rule of thumb is to keep both image resolution and frame rate low whenever possible. You should always use lossy compression methods like MPEG2 (which saves up to 90 percent less data). And remember, lower resolutions typically lead to larger file sizes.
Another reason your MP4 gets bigger is due to codecs. Codecs refer to types of software that encode and decode digital media. They convert analog signals into binary code that computers understand. There are tons of different ones out there, but H264/AVC is probably the most common one today.
H264 is a highly efficient way of encoding video, especially for smaller devices. However, it does come at a price. Because H264 is designed specifically for small screens, it doesn't support things like fast motion effects. Also, each additional layer adds extra pressure onto the CPU.
If you ever watch movies on your phone through Netflix, chances are that you are using H264. Nowadays, nearly any device capable of playing back 1080p content supports H264. It's extremely important to note that Apple tends to favor H265 over H264.
In addition to being better suited for mobile devices, H265 offers greater compatibility across multiple platforms. As such, you shouldn't need to worry about anyone having problems watching your video after converting it.
Since H264 utilizes a lot of bandwidth, it is often converted into another type of video before sharing it publicly. One option would be to create an MP3 version with Soundcloud Audiotoolbox. Or perhaps you'd prefer creating an animated GIF with Giffiti. Whatever method you choose, make sure your final product retains the highest level of quality.
What happens when you compress MP4?
One major benefit of MP4 is that it allows us to easily mix together two separate sources and output them as a single clip. Unfortunately, that process results in something called "interlacing." Interlacing involves mixing frames from two different clips together, resulting in unsightly tearing and gaps between images. To fix this issue, you can either combine the two original clips into one new clip or skip frames from one source to avoid showing the interlaced lines.
There are three main factors involved in whether you end up with a bad MP4: Resolution, Frame Rate, Bitrate. Let's go over them individually.
Resolution refers to the number pixels displayed per inch of screen width, height, and distance from your eyes. When you resize your video using programs like iMovie, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro X, etc., you're decreasing the resolution. Therefore, doing so causes you to lose detail and clarity.
As mentioned earlier, Apple favors H265 over H264. H265 produces much cleaner results than H264. With H265, your entire video is encoded once, whereas with H264, only the changes made during editing are reencoded. Since Apple's newer versions utilize H265, you won't need to worry about future issues related to interlacing.
Frame Rate describes the speed at which individual images appear onscreen. Video frame rates range anywhere from 24 fps (frames per second) to 60 fps. Higher frame rates tend to result in smoother transitions. Most users stick with 30fps unless they're making animations or sports coverage.
Bitrate refers to the amount of data transmitted per unit of time. Basically, the more bits sent per second, the clearer the picture will be. While video encoders try to maintain constant frame rates and resolutions, they can adjust the bitrate accordingly. If you set the bitrate too low, you run the risk of causing streaming errors. On top of that, it also takes longer to download.
Fortunately, there are plenty of free online converters available that allow you to check out several options quickly. Online conversion apps often give you the best balance between quality, file size, and ease of use.
For instance, previously mentioned Tunesize lets you select various presets based on your needs or input a custom value yourself. Once selected, the app analyzes your footage and adjusts the settings within seconds. Additionally, you can preview your finished product and compare it side-by-side with other video qualities.
Can MP4 be compressed further?
No matter what kind of video you shoot, it can always be optimized. However, sometimes, no matter what you do, your MP4 ends up becoming enormous. Fortunately, there are few instances where you can truly reduce the size of an existing MP4 file.
The first step is to decrease the resolution. If you have already done so, consider lowering the frame rate. Another alternative is to reduce the size of the soundtrack. Lastly, you can reduce the color depth. All of these reductions require a little patience, however, so be prepared for long waits.
On average, MP4 files are usually uploaded somewhere between 1GB to 10GB. Of course, it depends on the length of the video and the quality, but generally speaking, you're looking at 4K video up to 20 minutes or 8K video up to 40 minutes.
How do I compress a large MP4 file?
You've learned how MP4 works, but now you just need to figure out how to shrink down your own video. Thankfully, it's pretty simple. First off, head to Tunesize again and pick the High Quality preset. Afterward, click File & Export Movie Settings. Then, under Audio Encoder, change Bitrate Mode to Constant Bitrate. Finally, hit OK. Your video will automatically begin downloading.
Keep in mind that these steps differ slightly depending on which program you're using. What you see above was taken directly from Tunesize. But this exact procedure varies depending on the tool you're using.
However, regardless of what platform you're working on, you can follow these basic guidelines to ensure your MP4 remains clear and crisp.
Finally, if you really want to squeeze out every last drop of storage capacity from your MP4, you could consider downsampling. Downsampling simply refers to chopping away unnecessary details. By doing so, you can extract more visual information from your material without sacrificing quality.
To achieve this effect, you can use the Image Size function found in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2019 or Da Vinci Resolve Studio. Simply open your project, press Alt + B simultaneously, and drag the Output section towards the Source area until the desired size appears. Make sure to tick the box next to Reduce Noise to enable downsampling.
Afterwards, you can export the newly created version and continue optimizing it further if needed.
Whether you want to stream locally or on social networks, your MP4 should never exceed 2 GB. Otherwise, you risk annoying your viewers. Plus, according to Google Docs' Terms of Service page, they reserve the right to delete your documents if they reach 100 MB.
With this knowledge in hand, you can finally focus on creating amazing content rather than worrying about file size limitations.
MP4 is one of many different types of video formats used today. The main difference between them lies in how they store data about each frame of footage -- in some cases, this information isn't stored at all but instead relies on software to figure things out itself. Video compression can also differ greatly from format to format, so you'll need to look into specific features if you want to make sure your videos will have as little impact on bandwidth or storage space as possible.
In general though, it's safe to say that a smaller file size means better performance when transferring over networks (like those created by cloud services) or saving onto devices like flash drives. If there are multiple versions of a video then reducing their overall size can help save room on disk while keeping everything looking crisp. And since most people probably watch videos online rather than locally, finding ways to squeeze more usage out of limited resources is always useful.
Here we'll take a look at several methods for minimizing the size of MP4s without sacrificing quality too much. We've broken down these solutions into three categories: using built-in tools, third party apps, and doing it yourself. Let's get started!
Does compressing MP4 files reduce quality?
Before moving forward with any kind of optimization, you should know what exactly happens during the process of converting a video file from its original state to something smaller. Most codecs use lossy encoding techniques which allow us to compress our media without having to worry about losing important details. In other words, the resulting compressed version won't necessarily suffer from significant degradation in image quality. However, if you're aiming for maximum efficiency then you may want to try optimizing individual frames individually. This method works best for images where detail has been lost due to low resolution or poor lighting conditions, such as photos taken under fluorescent lights.
On top of that, just because the final product looks good doesn't mean it actually was worth all of the effort. A lot depends upon whether you plan to upload your optimized clips somewhere else, or stream directly through YouTube or another service like Vimeo. For instance, if you intend to share them privately then you might not care about making them look pristine. But if you don't mind sharing them publicly then you should definitely spend time trying to minimize the size of your output. After all, nobody likes being forced to sit through endless buffering screens.
If you really want to shrink your MP4 file without worrying about quality, check out Handbrake -- it's open source and completely cross platform, meaning it supports Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, Android, and anything else that uses Wine. It comes bundled with dozens of presets designed to optimize the smallest file sizes for popular platforms. You can either download Handbrake via HomePipe (an awesome webapp made specifically to host projects hosted within GitHub), or install it manually using whatever package manager you prefer. Once installed, launch it up and click "File" followed by "Export Movie". Then choose an export preset based on what device you'd like to create the new clip for. Check out our full guide here.
Once you've gotten Handbrake set up, you may find that it offers better results than the default settings by default. Some users report that disabling certain options like "Anti-Aliasing," "Denoise," and "Deblock" may improve picture quality. Keep in mind that you can always remove these effects later on if you decide to go back and edit.
There are plenty of other reasons why people would want to shrink down their video before sending it off to the internet, including fitting it inside email attachments, creating portable copies for watching offline on mobile devices, etc. Whatever your needs, hopefully this article helped point you towards the right solution. Now let's move on to see how you can accomplish similar goals without installing anything extra.
How do I compress an MP4 even more?
Many programs offer the option to convert your video from one type of file to another, often producing substantially smaller outputs. One example is Apple ProRes, which can produce high quality exports for both HD television shows and BluRay discs. Unfortunately, not every program offers this functionality natively. Fortunately, there are two great alternatives that provide tons of power and flexibility.
The first app we recommend is Compressor. Not only does it come packed with a wide variety of handy filters, but after installation you can access them straight from File Explorer. Simply double-click an MP4 file, select the desired profile, and hit OK. Your changes will automatically reflect themselves throughout all instances of said file. As far as downsides go, Compressor costs $20 USD per license. That's pretty expensive considering you could pay Google Drive around $5/month for essentially the same feature. Still, if you rely heavily on compressed files and aren't worried about quality then it may still end up paying off financially. Another downside is that Compressor requires.NET framework 4.0+ to run properly.
One alternative is Avidemux, which provides nearly identical functionality to Compressors but takes advantage of a handful of powerful plugins to achieve higher levels of quality reduction. Its interface is slightly less friendly, but it also lets you perform batch conversions for larger groups of files. Since it's written in C++, it runs faster and consumes fewer system resources. On the flip side, it's $30 USD per license. Again, it's way cheaper than you'd expect given comparable features, but if you're willing to shell out cash then Avidemux is well worth checking out.
Avidemux also allows you to extract audio tracks from videos, which can prove immensely helpful when editing together multiple sources. By combining this tool with QuickTime Player, you can easily trim and merge sound recordings into separate files. Just load up the track(s) you wish to combine into QTPlayer, drag and drop it onto the timeline area near the beginning of the recording, enable the Audio Track popup menu item, and start playing. When you're ready, simply press Ctrl + T to cut and paste the part containing the chosen track, and repeat until finished.
Finally, consider Kdenlive. Unlike the previous two examples, Kdenlive is entirely command line driven. While it's certainly capable enough to handle simple tasks like splitting and merging videos, advanced users are advised to steer clear unless they already know how to navigate Linux. Even so, it's extremely fast and efficient thanks to its ability to utilize multi-core processors. Like other tools mentioned above, it can export MPEG2 or H264 files. Additionally, it boasts support for external scripts and plug ins, allowing you to expand its capabilities further depending on your intended application. It's available for free but lacks some key features found in paid counterparts, namely the ability to split clips according to scene breaks. If you absolutely need a non-linear editor, however, Kdenlive is hard to beat.
How do I reduce the filesize of a video for free?
Although none of the aforementioned tools are able to work magic and magically shrink your videos in realtime, they can give you a substantial boost in terms of total size savings. With that said, you shouldn't feel obligated to pay money for something that's otherwise readily accessible for free. To recap, here are the major benefits offered by each:
Handbrake: High quality optimizations, no additional hardware required.
Compressor / Avidemux: Expensive licenses, minimal setup overhead.
Kdenlive: Non-linear editors, extensive scripting abilities.
Of course, you don't have to limit yourself to just these four choices. There are literally thousands of websites offering various kinds of video encoders. Just search for "video converter" and browse through whichever ones pop up. Also keep in mind that sometimes the biggest gains are to be had by exporting uncompressed video, especially if you want to fit a movie inside an email attachment.
How can I decrease the size of a video?
Now we come to the big question: How can I decrease the size of a video? Well, unfortunately this answer varies quite a bit. What worked perfectly fine for me may not work for someone else, so it's impossible to list exact steps for everyone. However, we can cover some basic guidelines to follow. First, remember that cutting away parts of the frame can cause visual artifacts along the edges. Therefore, if your goal is to maintain accurate transitions between shots, be careful to avoid cropping scenes too aggressively. Second, although it may seem counterintuitive, increasing the framerate can lead to noticeably improved results. Finally, lower resolutions tend to result in smaller files, naturally.
For reference purposes, here are some common recommendations:
720p -> 480p = 2x speed
1080p -> 720p = 1.33x speed
1280p -> 960p = 0.8x speed
1440p -> 1080p = 1.25x speed
1920p -> 1200p = 1x speed
2400p -> 1600p = 0.83x speed
3200p -> 2400p = 0.75x speed
3840p -> 2800p = 0.63x speed
4896p -> 3872p = 0.56x speed
6144p -> 5120p = 0.47x speed
7680p -> 6944p = 0.43x speed
I've got a new iPhone 7 Plus but it's not big enough... When you're dealing with high-resolution videos (especially 4K ones), there comes a time when you need to shrink them down in order to upload or share them. And while some people may argue that you shouldn't have to lose any detail in such cases, we know better than that. After all, if you want to watch something on YouTube at home, what difference does it really make?
The good news is that most smartphones today come equipped with powerful cameras which shoot HD footage, so you'll probably find yourself needing to resize those clips sooner rather than later anyway. In this article, let us show you how to reduce the size of an MP4 file without losing quality using common tools available right now.
How do I make an MP4 smaller without losing quality?
There are several factors to consider here when reducing the size of an MP4 file. First of all, remember that no matter how small you go, there will always be a point where the pixels just won't fit anymore—this means that you'll eventually end up having to crop parts from either side of the frame. That said, by knowing what kind of content you're shooting first, you should get more control over how much has to get cropped off.
For example, if you're looking to trim back on camera shake, then cropping will only take place around the lens itself. On the other hand, if you intend to zoom into certain areas of a scene (i.e., closeups) then you can choose to crop out unwanted background elements instead. It pays to experiment until you figure out what works best for each individual case.
As far as actual resolution goes, keep in mind that even though 1080p is often touted as FullHD these days, it doesn't mean that anything shot in that format is automatically going to look great once it gets blown up. The same applies to 4K footage, since its dimensions are four times bigger than full HD 1920x1080 resolutions. As such, you might actually notice things getting worse before they get better. But don't fret too much about it because you have options ahead. Keep reading to see how you can easily reduce the size of an MP4 without losing quality.
How do I compress a MP4 file for email?
One way to reduce the size of an MP4 without losing quality would be to convert it into another type of media entirely. If you happen to have access to Adobe Premiere Pro, Media Encoder, Avidemux, Handbrake, or FFMPEG, then feel free to use one of their built-in compression codecs. However, in many cases, converting an MP4 to another extension isn't worth the effort unless you also plan to edit it afterwards.
In addition, converting a video clip directly into GIF could serve as an excellent alternative solution. This is especially true if you're trying to send a handful of images via email or social networks. Not only will the resulting image be considerably lighter, but it should retain almost 100% of the original resolution too. Just make sure you save the result under the intended filename otherwise you might run into problems further down the line.
If you'd like to learn more about why saving an MP4 as a RAW+JPG combination is a bad idea, check out our guide explaining how to fix a corrupted MP4 file.
How can I reduce the size of an MP4 without losing quality?
What happens above takes care of lossless conversions, namely between different types of audio/video formats. Now suppose you want to cut corners on space usage by compressing an existing MP4 file down to size. Thankfully, modern devices already include plenty of features to help you achieve that goal. One thing you need to understand here is that every bit counts, including frames. So if you want to squeeze the last few drops of performance possible, try to avoid dropping frames altogether.
To illustrate this concept, imagine a scene where everything moves smoothly except for two particular objects moving together simultaneously. You could conceivably remove both and still maintain smoothness throughout the rest of the frame. This technique is known as "keyframe animation" and is used to create smoother transitions between scenes.
Now think back to the previous section's examples regarding conversion extensions. Did you ever wonder why you sometimes hear professionals refer to keyframes as "transitions"? Well, that's because they essentially perform the exact same function. When you drop a transition, you end up throwing away part of the frame and replacing it with whatever's coming next. By contrast, nothing changes within keyframes themselves.
Of course, cutting out unnecessary portions is only half the battle. Once again, it helps to analyze what kinds of shots require cropping. For instance, zooming in on someone's face during a conversation might introduce motion blur, whereas doing so inside a car interior wouldn't have nearly as severe effects.
On top of all that, you can employ additional techniques to improve overall visual appeal. These range from deinterlacing (which combines multiple fields into single rows) to denoising (whereby noise is removed from specific areas). All of these methods enhance the final product without affecting the integrity of the underlying data. To learn more, read our extensive explainer on how digital video editing works.
How can I make a video smaller without losing quality free?
If you'd prefer to skip all the technical mumbo jumbo, you can simply download software like MPEG Streamclip, Screencast-O-Matic, Pinnacle Studio, Blender, VLC Player, KineMaster, HitFilm Express, Da Vinci Resolve, Apple Compressor, Movavi Video Converter Deluxe, Magix Movie Edit Pro, iMovie, OBS Studio, and Cinelizer 2. With these programs installed, all you need to do is drag-and-drop your source footage onto the appropriate interface and start tweaking settings to make it ready for sharing. Depending on your device, the results could vary wildly.
However, if you decide to stick it through manual processing, the outcome will likely depend heavily on your own experience level. Although it requires a lot less work, working with raw footage can cause headaches due to unpredictable behaviors associated with color spaces, codecs, etc. Furthermore, it depends largely on whether you're able to correctly identify sections that contain little details and isolate them accordingly. Lastly, it's important to note that no piece of software guarantees perfect output. Despite being incredibly useful, technology alone cannot replace proper training.
We hope you never have to deal with the headache of resizing a video file, but if you ever do, you'll definitely appreciate learning more about how it works. Good luck!