Audiences are demanding high quality video. On television, desktops, smartphones, tablets and on every possible device that can play video. A high quality video, however, generally has a large file size that slows down upload and streaming. So, how do you find the best balance between quality and size?

Here are my observations on working with video that have helped me solve the issue of quality vs. size:

  • Do not scale or resize the original video dimensions. Scaling helps lower the file size but blurs your video. Especially when you are creating a screen recording, you may notice that the recorded screen can be cluttered or unclear. Your screen may be too big to fit in a video of smaller dimensions. Oftentimes, people try scaling the video hoping for improvement. Instead try using the pan and zoom feature provided by most screen recording tools. This highlights the important parts of the screen capture without creating overly high file sizes.
  • Do not change the frame rate unless you absolutely have to. Default frame rates deliver best quality. Changing the video frame rate may cause the audio to be out-of-sync with the video and then you may need to adjust audio to fit the video.
  • Use an optimum bitrate. The lower the bit rate, the more compressed the video. Lowering the bitrate not only decreases the file size but also reduces the quality. Unlike video, reasonable audio quality can be achieved at low bitrates. So consider lowering the audio bit rate if you are running high on file size.
  • Record your videos using the same resolution you want to display. This may not always be practical, but it is worth trying, especially when you know the screen resolution of viewers.  When it comes to aspect ratio, choose one that best suits the resolution in which the video is recorded. Using a suitable aspect ratio will help in avoiding those black strips above and below or on the sides of a video. By using a proper aspect ratio you can ensure that the video occupies a greater screen area thus improving the overall quality.
  • Consider recording your video in HD. Today most devices are HD ready. A tradeoff here is file size. If reasonable, consider recording a HD video in 720p instead of 1080p.

These are some simple tips that I think should help in negotiating a sweet spot between file size and video quality. That said, I still have a few more tricks up my sleeve to find the perfect balance of size and quality, but that’s a story for another day.