Video Compression for the Web

Video compression is what makes it possible for digital video to be shared over the Internet, through a television, and on a DVD. Without video compression, we would either have high quality video files that are too large to be shared, or we would have files that were small in size, but low in quality (which would make them unwatchable). Compressing video for the web can be a little tricky. Different video sharing sites have different file requirements and some re-compress your files again. The goal for video compression on the web is to have a high quality video with a small file size. 

File Format

Every video sharing website has different formats that they support. For example, one can support Flash video while another won't. Or, maybe one supports Flash, but only the .flv extension and not the newer .f4v. Where you wish to upload your video is going to determine what file format options are available to you. 

Most of these video sharing sites have limits on how large the file size of your uploads can be. You need to create the highest quality file possible that stays within these limits. See what the individual site recommends for uploading. However, the best formats to use are Flash, Quicktime (.MOV) and MP4. The file format you use will directly influence the video quality and sound of your file.


In addition to the file format, the compressor and compression settings you choose have direct influence over the video's quality and file size. H.264 is the king of compressors. It makes it possible to stream DVD quality over the web and is considered a bench mark in the development of internet video. 

The compressor has huge influence on the video compression of your work. But, there are other things you can control that also have a direct influence over the quality of your video and the size of its file. The biggest is the resolution, the amount of pixels present in the frame. A higher resolution makes for a better looking image, but the higher the resolution, the larger the file size.

The bit rate controls the streaming of the clip. A lower bit rate results with a smaller file size that can be streamed quickly, but it sacrafices quality. A higher bit rate means higher quality videos, but it has a larger file size that takes longer to download.

The best thing to do is experiment with the compression settings. Upload your video under the different settings to see which one works best. Then, use those settings as a standard for the videos you will distribute.