Reducing Video File Size Without Giving Up its Quality


Nowadays, your smartphone is playing a role equally as a DSLR and a GoPro that is capable of shooting high-quality and high-resolution videos, but the disadvantage is that the Video File size balloons quickly. You will be disappointed if your memory card gets filled with all the files or if you want to upload any of the videos on the Internet to share.

Now it has become easy to reduce the Video File size. But the problem is that unless the setting is changed correctly, the quality of the video will be lost. What is the perfect setting to be changed to reduce the size without the loss in the video’s quality?

1. Select the Right Software

A computer should be made used for this task, neither a tablet nor a smartphone will succeed to complete this task. Handbrake is the powerful desktop tool and is the most useful cross-platform media converter here. It is free and works equally same on Mac, Linux and Windows.


If you are a windows user, you can make a trial of the Freemake Video Converter which can be interfaced easily. The role of Handbrake is encoding and converting the videos, so it is better to learn its interface and go with it instead.

Download(free): Handbrake for Windows, Mac, or Linux

2. Start With the Audio

Head your video to the Audio tab in Handbrake before the beginning of chopping down the quality of the video. By this, the audio channels take up a large space. It is better to always tackle the audio first unless you have shot a concert.

For a video where the priority is given to human speech rather than music. below is a list of what has to be done.


  • Check the presence of more than one audio track : There is a need for only one. If it is a movie file, look for the required language audio. If the file that you made is a video, probably, the first track will be the right one. So you can delete all the remaining tracks.
  • In Codec, select AAC (CoreAudio) or MP3 : These are the lossy compressed audio file formats and are good enough for most of the cases. In fact, you can select any one of these lossy formats even for concerts or other such videos and sample it at a higher bit rate.
  • Choose 160 in Bit rate by default for most videos : If you want to convert a video where music plays the main role, then select a higher bit rate (256 or 320).

There is no need for you to mess with the sample rate and simply you can set it to Auto, but it can be pulled to optimise audio file size. Set the sample to 32 for human speech and 48 if in case music is important.

3. Select the Best Codec and Container

The original video which you shoot must ideally be using the highest quality video codec and container. You pick the most efficient codec and container when you are thinking of reducing the size of the video.

What makes them different from each other? Generally, the codec is the encoder/decoder which can convert a video into bytes (the “brain” that determines the base quality) but the container is the file format (the “body” that determines compatibility with different services and devices).


Select H.264 as the codec. H.264 is the most popular and efficient codec to obtain high-definition videos and it is almost two times as good as MPEG-4 in the process of compression of videos. And now it is even recognised by most devices, it may be the Raspberry Pi or a simple TV.

And there is no need for you to really bother about its advanced, the new H265 standard.


Select MP4 as the container : Again, MP4 is efficient, but mainly, it is the most widely recognised and used file format for videos. In fact, Vimeo, Facebook and YouTube recommend MP4 as mostly the preferred container.

4. Reduce the Resolution of Video

It is great that your phone can shoot 4K videos, but do you even have a 4K-ready monitor or a TV to play it on? Most people have HD Ready or Full HD TVs, but the big secret is that resolution of the video isn’t an important aspect as you might think.


The size of the video is greatly affected by the resolution, but the quality may not be affected to a great extent. Some of the aspects such as how far you sit from the screen, the bit rate of the video and the upscaling technology of the TV are going to have as much or greater impact.

Here’s a list of resolutions which are used commonly :

  • 240p (426×240)
  • 360p (640×360)
  • 480p (854×480)
  • 720p (1280×720)
  • 1080p (1920×1080)
  • 1440p (2560×1440)
  • 2160p (3840×2160)

As the main condition to minimise the file size by resolution, check the original resolution of the video and select one level below it. In Handbrake, you will find this in “Picture Settings” at the top-right menu. Even you can check out a Preview of the reduced resolution before you execute.

If you plan only to just upload your video to Facebook or YouTube, then the best choice to go with is 720p (assuming that file size is more important than resolution). Facebook captures even the resolution at 720p whereas YouTube pushes you to go higher till 4K.

5. Bit-rate Is the Final Resort

The biggest factor in determining the quality of any video is its bit-rate, hence you have to make it as your final resort. Simply to say, bit-rate is the amount of data being executed/output in one second. The more artefacts can be shown on the screen when you allow more data and hence the video quality will increase.


Most DSLRs, record video at high bit-rates as most screen recording and screen casting software do. Again, YouTube has some recommended bit-rates which can be used as a thumb rule for any video file. It is not good to go below these recommended numbers, but you can safely reduce it if your present bit-rate is high.


It is best keeping a variable bit-rate rather than a constant one. In Handbrake, select Video > Quality > Average Bit-rate, and key in a number that best suits to the resolution of your video, using the above chart. Check the box for 2-pass encoding.

6. Do not Change Frame Rates

Don’t ever bother to reduce the frame rate, if anyone insists you to. Every video expert, video editor and video hosting site suggest you keep your video at the same frame rate in which it was recorded.


The human eye needs only 24–30 frames per second (FPS) for a calm picture, so it might be seen logical to reduce the frame rate to that range. However, this may affect the smoothness of the video, and especially makes the movement seem jerky or unnatural.

Unless you are experimenting with slow-motion videos, you may avoid this. Now, you should be able to substantially reduce the Video File size without any effect on its quality. Remember to go step by step so that you might hit your intended target size much before you need to reduce the bit-rate or the resolution.

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