How to Make Video Files Smaller: 3 Video Compression Tips

By Emily KringsJan 17, 2024

As a content creator or e-commerce brand, it’s likely that your online strategy is dependent on video. This is no surprise. The U.S. has seen the number of users accessing video online surge from 111 million in 2018 to a whopping 165.9 million in 2024.

With all of those users out there hunting for online video content right now, it’s pretty clear that the demand is there and only continuing to grow with each passing year. The question is, are you doing everything you can to take advantage of it?

There are a lot of approaches for improving the quality and maximizing the performance of your online videos, but one of the most important here is video compression.

In this guide, we’ll discuss video compression and how to make videos smaller for optimal streaming conditions.

Table of Contents

What is Video Compression?

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“Video compression” is the formal term that describes how to make video files smaller. It refers to the process of compressing a video through encoding or transcoding so that it takes up less space. 

So, how does compression work? 

Every video file takes up space based on the overall amount of “stuff” it contains, such as the number of pixels (resolution), the number of frames (frames per second), the length of the video (runtime), and the file type (format). 

With video compression, you’re finding a way to strip out some of the “stuff” in order to reduce the file size. Usually, that’s by lowering the resolution or converting your video to an entirely different video format that renders a video with less total information.  

Why Make Video Files Smaller?

Before we touch on the three ways to reduce the size of your video files, let’s talk about why you should even bother worrying about this in your video production workflow. What does it matter if the video files are a little big?

You should remember that videos are a collection of not just images or audio but both – so they’re already predisposed to being much larger than other file types online. 

With that in mind, here are a few reasons why you should want to keep those video file sizes small.

File Storage

There’s a hard cost associated with the storage space your videos use online. For example, each of our standard plans at Maestro will give you 500 GB to work with. To make the most of your storage space, you’ll want each video file optimized to be as small as possible. 

When you do this, it also helps you work with online video hosting platforms that have file size limits for each individual video. 

Upload Time

It can take a long time to upload a video online, whether to a third-party platform or your own content management system. An hour-long 1080p video may take about 15 to 20 minutes on a typical broadband connection, while 4k will take even longer. You can shorten total upload times with the right video file settings.

Viewer Accessibility

Not every user can afford to access and consume large video files. Many of your viewers will have slower internet connections or data caps, which makes smaller video files an important consideration if you want to maximize your potential viewing audience.

How to Make Video Files Smaller

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Now that you understand the value of making video files smaller, let’s look at some of the best ways to make it happen.

Method 1: On-Camera Video Settings

If you’re creating video content from scratch, you should first consider the settings you’re using to shoot your videos. Right off the bat, you can choose settings that lead to smaller file sizes. 

Here are our recommendations:

  • Resolution: Aim for an HD (1080p) resolution instead of 4K. For even more file size savings, you can consider 720p (this would work best for an audience that’s primarily on mobile) – but usually 1080p is the sweet spot between quality and file size.
  • Frame rate: You’ll see a slightly smaller file size with a frame rate of 24 fps instead of 30 fps. Both are standard for video content, so either one is fine. You should only consider using 60 fps if you’re shooting sports or something with a lot of motion or action.
  • Bitrate: A lower bitrate means less data is processed per second. Ideally, you should stick with an adaptive bitrate (ABR) setting that adjusts based on each viewer, so you can dynamically balance quality with file size. 
  • Codec: Use an efficient codec like H.264, which should be compatible with most devices.
  • Audio: Go with a modest bitrate for your audio quality unless your video is for a music concert. Typically, 128 kbps in the AAC format is good enough.

By adjusting these settings before you shoot, you can significantly reduce the file size of your video without sacrificing overall quality. 

It’s always helpful to shoot with an eye toward where your videos will be published online so that you can figure out the right settings from the start.

Method 2: Video Editing Software

In the video editing stage of video production, you’re putting together the cut of your video, probably in a tool like Adobe Express Video Editor, Davinci Resolve, or Final Cut Pro. 

Well, believe it or not, the export settings you use can totally change the file size of a video. When it comes time to export a video, you should aim to match the settings we just covered above for a good resolution, frame rate, bitrate, codec, and audio. 

Aside from that, do you know what else you can do with video editing software? You can decide how long a video is going to be.

Arguably, the easiest way to make a video file smaller is just to make it shorter. That could mean cutting out fluff or exporting a longer video into a series of smaller videos (part 1, part 2, etc.). This technically doesn’t count as “compression,” but video length is an important consideration that will make a difference before you even worry about compressing your video file.

Method 3: Dedicated Video Compression Tools

Along with video editing software, you can find dedicated video compressor software out there that’s designed to make your video files smaller. 

One of the most popular and long-standing applications for compression is Handbrake, a user-friendly and efficient tool where you simply upload your original video file, pick your new settings, and let it do the work of converting the video into a much more manageable file size and format.

With that said, if you’re creating a lot of videos and need to do video compression often, you may want to consider a more scalable option. For bigger jobs, online cloud-based tools like Clipchamp or WeCompress offer video compression services and cloud storage to help you manage your videos and get them ready to upload.

Make Maestro Your Online Video Platform


Of course, the ultimate goal is to get those compressed videos live on the web so your audience can watch them. For that, you’ll need an online video platform.

Maestro offers an end-to-end video CMS for hosting, monetizing, and delivering your streaming experiences. Plus, with our drag-and-drop website builder, you can set up a professional-looking streaming website with a few clicks. Choose your branding, add monetization, and go live in just minutes.

Sign up today to host exclusive streams for your audience in no time at all.

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