I started wondering about file compression during my start as a filmmaker. I would play around and evaluate how much footage or “time” I had left on my drive to edit video.. I’m not getting into estimation math much or at all in this tutorial because it’s not the point. What I will talk about is how I did it, and the results that i saw.

DVD’s were compressed in MPEG-2, Blurays in H264, CD’s in MP3. Now we have H265, and HE-AAC (High Efficiency). When I looked at the numbers about the internet with the use of these compressions, and started configuring some FFMPEG jobs, I started to see some pretty interesting things. My files were atleast half the size the compressed counterpart. Sometimes as little at 1/10th.

The biggest consideration that I noticed – sometimes you can be a little overzealous with the numbers. Automatically reducing bit rate by half can be a little lean, and artifacts or less-than-crispyness ensues. What’s nice, is you can reduce the file size significantly, and still have basically equal quality. Where we really fall short in quality is source material. If you’re compressing an h264 video compressed at 1200kbps, reducing is to 700kbps, you’re going to start seeing less saturation, and diffusion.