More and more we are delivering video for Internet viewing. Some presets work for some situations, some for others, but one preset does not work for all Internet needs. Let’s take a look at how to easily customize a finished QuickTime video for web use easily and without having to be an engineer.
If your video is originally HD we can size it down to 720 safely if it is no more than 3 or 4 minutes long. If it’s longer than that, or if you’re uploading to a situation that doesn’t allow a frame size that large, it’s easy to customize.
Click to highlight a QT movie file in the Finder. Right-click, or Control-click for the pop-up menu. At the bottom of that menu select “Encode Selected Video File”. Set the size to either 720 for short videos up to 3 or so minutes, or 480 for longer videos. Set “Encode For” to Greater Compatibility. Set the Destination as desired, and un-check the “Delete source files after processing” option. Click the Continue button.
Open your QT movie in QuickTime X player, go to File > Export For Web, and check off which format you plan to be playing out to.
Checking each box will make a separate file for each.
Open your QT file in QT 7 Player if you have it left over from a previous installation of itself or Final Cut Studio. If it’s not in your Applications folder, look inside the Utilities sub-folder. Use Command-I to open the Inspector window, grab the bottom right corner and drag. Eye it up or read the “Current Size” value in the Inspector window until you reach the size you want. If this is a process you plan to do often, write down the frame dimensions.
Go to the File menu, to Export and set the “Export:” menu to “Movie to QuickTime Movie”. Click the Options button and the Video Settings button. Then set “Compression Type” to H.264, Frame Rate to Current, Key Frames and Data Rate to Automatic, check Frame Reordering, and set the Quality slider to Medium. Encoding should be set to Best quality (Multi-pass). Finally, click OK.
Click the Settings button for Sound and set the following: Format to AAC, Channels to Stereo if there is music, if not set to Mono, Rate to 24.000, Render Settings Quality to Normal, Encoding Strategy to Average, Target Bit Rate to 40, click OK.
Check Prepare for Internet Streaming, set it to Fast Start, and click OK.
Open your QT movie in Compressor. In the search field of the Settings window type in H.264 and find the “H.264 Full Res, low audio” preset, drag it onto your video in the jobs window. Highlight the setting in the jobs window, go to the Inspector, in the Encoder section (second button from left), click the Settings buttons for video and audio and set as in Method 3 above. Click on the Geometry section (second button from right), and in the Dimensions section set Frame Size appropriately.
You can find a custom frame size by opening the file in QuickTime Player (any version) and using the resizing tips in Method 3 above to get specific frame size numbers. Click the Submit button.
If this is a setting you’re going to use over and over, with the inspector still open, click the “Save As” button, give it a name, and highlight it in the Settings window under the Custom folder. Go to the File menu, select “Create Droplet”. This gives you an icon in the Finder you can drag and drop files and folders full of files on to, and will automatically to the transcodes to the current settings you have.
Preparing video for the web is always a balancing act. Depending on the size, duration, if audio is mono or stereo, and how much action is in the video. If you can’t get it down to required file sizes, you’ll need to shrink the frame size smaller.
Additionally, if you’re adjusting the Quality slider for H.264 video as in Method 3 above, don’t be afraid to bring the slider down a little below the middle. You may have to experiment, but after a couple of tries, one of these methods will work out for you and will become very quick and easy to use over and over.
Ben Balser studied educational psychology at Loyola University and with a 20 year IT career behind him, he now produces, consults, and teaches media production full time. As an Apple Certified Master Trainer, he runs the Louisiana Cajun Cutters FCP users group, teaches Final Cut and Motion courses regularly at Louisiana State University and across the country. He has consulted for broadcast, educational, government, and private production facilities, as well as for local film projects.