The work of a video editor can be quite challenging. From my own experience, I can say that many obstacles can arise during work. They do not always depend on you. Large-scale projects can put a heavy load on the computer and significantly slow down the work. It is not always possible to purchase a new and more powerful computer. Therefore, video compression (i.e., reducing the video size) can become an optimal solution for workflows.

What are the ways to reduce video size

There are several ways, all of them are quite simple and clear. Changing the format can significantly reduce the size of the video, as some formats are heavier, while others are lighter. Reducing the length of the video will also affect the size for obvious reasons. Less pleasant is reducing the resolution of the video because too low a resolution can affect the video quality too much. The most pleasant option is to reduce the bitrate because this method will significantly reduce the size of the video while preserving sufficient video quality.

Compressing video files: two reasons

No matter how many reasons there are to reduce the file size, they all boil down to two basic ones – for the editor’s work and export.

Let’s consider the first case. I use it very often in my projects. Modern technology allows you to shoot videos in high quality, in 4k and even 6k or 8k. All this increases the size of the file and the project in general. For comparison, I will give an example of two similar projects. Three years ago, I had a project to create a commercial for a company. Everything was shot with three cameras (Canon EOS 5D Mark III) in Full HD format. The size of the project was 384 GB. Three years later, our studio received a very similar order for a commercial. But the equipment on which everything was filmed became different. This time Blackmagic cinema cameras were used (Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, to be precise). Filmed in Full HD and 4k formats. The total volume of the project was 1 TB 46 GB. The number of frames that were shot is approximately the same as the total duration of all filmed materials. Such a large difference in volumes is primarily due to technology. Some cameras can shoot in better quality, higher format, and higher resolution. The frame rate also affects video size. If we want to get high-quality video, then we need to use high-quality equipment.

Now let’s go back to the video editing room. You are an editor who has received a project with more than a terabyte of files. Everything has been loaded into Premiere Pro, and you need to start preparing for editing the future video. And that’s a mess! The computer has a hard time loading files, they hang, and the program takes longer to perform a simple action. And this is our reason for reducing the size of video files. Or more precisely, the creation of proxy files. The practice of using proxy files is not new and is quite widespread nowadays.

The second case and reason why we should reduce the file size is to make life easier for our audience. If you work for social networks, YouTube, or another multi-user platform, you should remember that not everyone can have good computers, new telephoto, and fast internet. The platforms themselves have restrictions on the size of video file downloads. All this creates a need to reduce the size of the finished video without losing quality. And the most important task is to preserve the quality of the video.

How to make video files smaller in Premiere Pro

Let’s consider several options for reducing the size of the video: with a reduction in the size and quality of the video; reducing the size but maintaining the quality of the video.

To reduce the video file size, you need to open the export bar. To do this, use the key combination control+M (Windows)/command+M (Mac).

Export with reduced video size and quality

By default, it should be H.264, Match Source – Adaptive High Bitrate. To quickly change the settings, you can choose Match Source – Adaptive Low Bitrate. The file size will decrease significantly. This can be seen at the bottom above the Metadata button….

different presets for compressing video

If the file size is still too large, then we go down to the video settings. We are interested in the Bitrate Encoding: VBR, 1 pass parameter, which is in the Bitrate Settings tab. If with Match Source – Adaptive Low Bitrate the Bitrate Encoding parameter is 4.8, then we need to set a number that will be less than that (i.e., a number that will be less than 4.8).

Bitrate settings for compressing video

Export with reduced size but preserve video quality

Whichever format you choose, to preserve the quality and at the same time reduce the size of the video, you need to make several settings. First of all, check the Render at Maximum Depth and Use Maximum Render Quality options. In this way, you indicate that you want to preserve the quality of the video. And then the same manipulations as before. We change (independently setting the value of the parameter) the Bitrate Encoding parameter. The smaller the value, the less the video quality will be preserved; this should be remembered. Therefore, I recommend setting it no lower than 10 (the extreme value is 5, but the quality will noticeably decrease).

How to save quality during video compression

I will emphasize that the smaller the file size you make, the lower the video quality will be, even if you choose to keep the quality.

How to create proxy files

To reduce the size of the video for post-editing, you need to choose the Apple ProRes 422 Proxy format. It is a fast and lightweight format that maintains sufficient quality while significantly reducing file size. In the settings below, you can leave everything unchanged; they are great for proxy files.

How to create proxy files

When you transcode your video files, just relink them to the project and you’re good to go. The main thing is not to forget to change the file source to the original during the final export!


Do I need to reduce the size of the finished video if it is a commercial order?

Usually, all details are discussed with the customer, including the final size of the video. But I know that there is a practice when the size of the video is reduced for intermediate viewing so that it is faster and easier to show it to the client.

There are also cases when the quality of the video is reduced at the same time if there is a suspicion that the clients are unscrupulous. And already after payment, they give the video in high quality.

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