6 tools to reduce the size of your videos without losing quality

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6 tools to reduce the size of your videos without losing quality

Sometimes video file sizes can be very large and this can be a problem for uploading and hosting on the server.

Unless you need the resolution to be as high as possible, it is best to reduce the file size of the video. This will reduce bandwidth usage and loading time, and there is less buffering. Therefore, this will speed up the process of creating and editing videos, as it will not be necessary to work with such large files.

But how can we easily compress a video and reduce the file size?

I bring you six tools to reduce the size of your videos without losing quality, both in their desktop and online versions.

But remember that there are also more common ways to reduce the size of your video without losing quality. The most common is to make your video shorter. If you can trim the beginning or end clip, you can reduce the file size.

The second option is to remove the audio from your video. Most videos have audio and music in the background, so if you don't need it, you can remove it. This will undoubtedly reduce the file size without any loss of quality.

Let's get down to business. The 6 best free video compressors in 2021

Here is a list of 6 tools to reduce the size of your videos without losing quality that are available for free. You will learn about the features they offer and how to use them to compress your videos.

Let's compare options and see which one is best for you, read on because let's get to know them!

Video compression and understanding video file size

Before we begin, it's important to understand what makes a video file larger or smaller. 

There are three main factors: resolution, bit rate and encoding.

Resolution is the number of pixels in the video, and is usually represented by a horizontal x vertical measurement (e.g. HD, also known as 1080p, is 1920 x 1080). This provides high definition quality.

  • The 16: 9 ratio is very common and includes other resolutions.
  • Video format: MP4 (.mp4 file extension).
  • Video resolution: 1080p / 2K or lower
  • H.264 video codec: the most common codec and compatible with most devices and browsers 20 fps - 60 fps (23.98 fps is a good choice)

So what resolution should you use? It largely depends on how your audience will see it. For example, 1080p is probably sufficient for users posting videos on YouTube, as many monitors are still no higher than 1080p.

However, your audience may be watching on their SmartTVs, and higher resolutions will be more common there, so a video resolution of 1440p or 1080p will be fine for larger screens.

If your audience primarily connects from their smartphone to watch videos then this will be more difficult to plan for, as phones have different resolutions, screen sizes and pixel densities. The difference between 720p and 1080p will be noticeable on a phone, but it will have to be between 6" and 8" for the user to notice the difference. With so many phones on the market, with very high definition screens, it will be better to go for high resolutions when we have enough bandwidth. The iPhone 12, for example, has a 2,532 × 1,170 pixel screen and a pixel density much higher than the human eye can appreciate.

Possibly the most important factor in determining the size of the video is the bitrate. This is a measure of how much information is transmitted per second and is usually measured in Mpbs (and sometimes kbps). 

It is a good idea to use a variable bitrate, which allows your video to go above or below the bitrate. While this will give you a little less control over the size of the video, it will result in higher quality, as the video will transmit more information in the clips where it is needed.

Now we will talk about encoding. It is recommended to use H.264 encoding with an MP4 encoder. This is the most efficient method of compressing your videos and by using it you will only lose a little bit of quality. It is important to remember that by making the video shorter you will almost always lose in quality. It compresses a video by removing information, and that means that anyone watching it on a large screen will probably be able to tell.

And, as we'll discuss a little later, you can always try different settings to see what works best for your video. Experimenting with different resolutions, bitrates and encoding settings will give you different results, and some may be better for you than others.

6 tools to reduce the size of your videos without losing quality.

1VLC (Windows, Mac, Linux)

As one of the most popular media viewing and editing applications, it's no surprise that VLC is also an excellent choice for compressing video files.

First, download VLC (Windows, Mac and Linux versions are available). Once installation is complete, click Media > Convert / Save (or using the keyboard shortcut cmd + shift + S). Then click Add and select your video file (you can also select multiple files to convert as a batch)

Click on Convert / Save to bring up the conversion options. In the Profile drop-down menu, you will need to select the type of conversion you want.

Because VLC doesn't display file sizes, you'll have to guess what level of conversion to apply. Fortunately, VLC has recommendations for different types of videos.

For example, if you upload content to YouTube, you probably want to keep the highest quality. Select Video for YouTube HD - think people will watch your video on a SmartTV? Use Video for TV / MPEG4 1080p device. Need something smaller? Try Video for TV / device MPEG4 720p. Optimisation for Android, iPod or iPhone will also allow you to get smaller files.

To further reduce the size of your video file, you can change the video resolution. Click the Settings button (looks like a wrench and screwdriver) to the right of the Profile drop-down menu, then select the Resolution tab. From there, you can adjust the scale to maintain its current ratio or manually adjust the size of the video.

When you're done, click Save. You'll need to enter a destination location and filename; click Browse to specify it.

Start converting video files with VLC. Once you have done this, press Start.

If you're compressing a large video, it may take some time. But when it's done, you'll have a new video file that should take up much less space.

2Shotcut (Windows, Mac, Linux)

Although not as popular as VLC, Shotcut is another option for people looking to make smaller videos without spending a penny. Designed more as an editor than a viewer, Shotcut gives you many advanced features to edit your videos. At first it's not very easy to understand how to compress a video with Shotcut, so I'm going to explain it to you in a simple way. 

Download Shotcut, open it and use the "Open file" button to open your video. To export it in a new file format, click on Export in the top right corner of the window. You will now have an extensive list of options.

In general, using H.264 is a good option. This format will reduce the size of your video without sacrificing much quality.

As you can see, there are many more compression options. Try some of them to see how they compress your file. In general, H.264 will be the best choice. You can also adjust the size of the video by changing the Resolution or Aspect Ratio fields. Shotcut will not automatically adjust the corresponding option. If you change the horizontal resolution, you will have to calculate the most appropriate vertical resolution.

If you choose a lower quality export, the resolution will be adjusted automatically. So if you select HDV (hdv_720_25p), the resolution will decrease if your video was originally in 1080p. But if you want to reduce the default resolution, you will have to calculate the correct dimensions yourself. You can also use the export window to customise the export options to get exactly the file type you want. 

3QuickTime Player (Mac)

Apple's default media player includes a list of options for compressing your videos. The only drawback is that you can't use it on any other operating system.

To shrink a video with QuickTime, open the application from the Applications folder and click File > Open File to load your video.

To start shrinking the video, click File > Export As. Unfortunately, QuickTime doesn't offer as many options as other applications. You will see 4k (if applicable), 1080p, 720p and 480p options.

Select 720p or 480p (assuming you recorded the video in 1080) and export your file. It should be smaller than before.

Unfortunately, QuickTime does not support resizing, so if you need to reduce the dimensions of your video, you will need to use another program or use a web-based video compression tool such as VEED, ClipChamp or Kapwing (read on)

4VEED (Web)

If you don't want to download or use an application on your computer, there are many websites that will allow you to upload a video file and compress it. Some of these services require an account, some have a monthly fee (or a watermark on the video), and some are completely free. 

As part of its video editing tools, VEED offers an easy-to-use video compression tool to reduce the size of video files for free. It works on both Windows and Mac, and within your browser, so you don't have to download anything.

VEED's video compressor supports MP4, MOV, MKV, Avi, WMV, FLV video file formats. If you use Dropbox to host your videos, you can connect your account and upload your videos directly to the tool. Veed.io has an easy-to-use control that allows you to adjust the compression rate by choosing between higher quality and smaller file size.

The most useful thing about this video compressor is that it allows you to estimate the file size before pressing the "Compress" button. This is very useful if you are looking to compress videos and make them small enough to attach to an email or send through a messaging service where there is a file size limit. Typically the limit is between 20 and 25 MB. Veed.io also allows you to play around with the settings, to get the right size, before compressing.

More experienced users, or those who need to specify frame rate, bit rate and CRF, can press the "Advanced Settings" button in the Video Compression settings and change the video resolution.

This tool offers a large file size compression and an option to "Download" or "Edit video". If you click on "Edit video", you will be directed to the main VEED editor, where you can add subtitles, text, progress bars and more.

5VideoSmaller (Web)

VideoSmaller is another simple video compressor hosted in the cloud to reduce online video file size. It's completely free. Go to VideoSmaller.com, upload your video, tweak a couple of options and you're done.

The nice thing about VideoSmaller is that it supports a variety of different video file formats, including MP4, AVI, MPEG, MOV, allowing you to upload video files up to 500 MB. 

The first option it gives you allows you to use a low compression level. This will give you a better quality resolution for your video, but will not reduce the size as much as the standard compression type.

The second option is to scale the video. Of course, scaling down also results in lower quality, but it is worth sacrificing size. Therefore, you should think first about the needs of your audience (mainly focusing on the devices they will use to watch your videos) with respect to the size.

Finally, you can check a box to remove all audio from the video. As you know, this could save you a lot of space. But it will leave you without any sound.

6Clipchamp (Web)

If you need to reduce the file size of your videos on a regular basis, you may want to consider using a paid service such as Clipchamp

Clipchamp offers more options, including the option to edit videos, upload videos of any size and batch process videos. Clipchamp also has a free option, but applies a watermark to videos. If you are going to share videos, you may want to subscribe to the Business plan, which costs $7.50 per month.  Whether or not it's worth subscribing depends on how often you use it. But if you want to make the process as easy as possible without downloading software to your computer, Clipchamp is a good option.

Experiment to find the best video compression and file size settings. No matter what you're using your videos for, whether it's monetising your content online or live streaming on social media, there's a balance you can find between small file size and high video quality. It's hard to find the point where they are 100 x 100 balanced, but with a little practice, you should be able to do it.

If you are hosting your own videos, finding the right size and quality is vital. You need to provide your viewers with the best quality without using so much bandwidth that you have to pay a fortune for. Try different resolutions and bitrates to see how they affect quality. 

Consult the OTT platform of your choice for more information on their guidelines and recommendations for video upload and quality settings. Then, check out the different encoding settings to see how they change the size of your video.

After a little practice, you'll find the perfect settings to make your videos smaller. And this will save you space and money, no matter what platform or cloud application you use.

I hope this comparison has given you an idea of the different options for compressing your videos, both in desktop and online versions.

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