MacMost Now 223: Compressing Video with ffmpegX

Learn how to use the shareware program ffmpegX to compress your video while maintaining decent quality. This is useful if you want to send video to your iPod, upload video to the net, send it via email, or archive your camera's video files.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 223: Compressing Video with ffmpegX.

Hi this is Gary from MacMost Now brought to you by Square Space. For a great way to create your own website, visit On this episode, let's take a look at how to compress a video using ffmpegX. Suppose you have a video file--say one you took with your digital camera and you want to share it with somebody--say send it to them via email or upload it to the internet but the file size is pretty big. You want to compress it but still keep some level of quality. One way to do that is with QuickTime Pro. But if you don't have QuickTime Pro and want a less expensive solution, you can use a shareware program named ffmpegX. It's actually a graphical user interface built over some UNIX video compression tools. Now installing ffmpegX can be a little difficult. You install the user interface and the first thing it does is ask you to go ahead and install some other components which you have to go elsewhere on the internet to get. And these can be a little difficult as well. For example if you click on the first link and copy and paste it into safari, it won't actually download correctly. You have to actually go to the containing folder shown here and go ahead and find the file on that webpage and download it from there by control clicking on it. And then the other two below you actually have to download some zip files. You only need to download one of them; they are actually the same thing. And then you will find the two files in there. Click locate button to locate the three files you downloaded and then you can go ahead and click install button which will then install those components and then you are ready to use ffmpegX. Once you have ffmpegX all installed, you can run it and you get a screen that looks like this. Now what you want to do is first select a file you want to compress. So here is a QuickTime movie that is the very first episode of MacMost Now. Drag it from the finder onto the drop file here. And it fills in a lot of different fields for me. It fills in the field for opening this file and it always fills in the save as field. Now I want to go and select what type of movie I want to create from this by default it gives me an .avi file. But I want to go ahead and select something else. I want to go ahead and compress it down to an iPod compatible video that is using h.264 and is 320 wide. This is a whole bunch of presets but you don't have to settle for them. you can go into these tabs here and select say video and set your own video bit rates and your own screen size--all sorts of different things. You can also go ahead and set the audio. So say in this one the audio is not important, I'm sending to someone who already knows what I'm saying so I'm going to go ahead and drop the audio rate a little bit, maybe even set it to mono. I'll have a higher quality mono channel rather than stereo. I can go back to the video options and there are some other options and tools. You can probably just stick with some of the default settings here for a lot of what you want to do. And then when you are ready to go, you can go ahead and modify the file name if you want or leave it as is and click compose. Which what this will do is launch another program right here that is basically a process monitor for monitoring one of the Unix processes that is doing the compression. And you can see the progress as it compresses the video. Then when it is done I've got my original file here and here is the new one that is created by ffmpegX. I look at the file sizes and I see there is quite a difference--more than 24 MB compared to 6 MB. This is a lot better to send and also of course this will be iPod compatible which may not be the case if you are just taking the raw video from say your digital camera. Now there are a lot of different reasons why you may want to use this, for instance, getting video onto your iPod or you can create a smaller video to send to a friend or upload to the internet say for your home video podcast or just for people to be able to download. Maybe you have a large video that you are having trouble uploading to YouTube. You can compress it a little more using this. It is also very useful when you have a digital camera that has very large video files and you want to shrink them down so you can archive them. other techniques you may want to use for creating smaller files is of course if you are making something in iMovie, you can set it using on the default sharing options, you can export using QuickTime conversion, and go ahead and tweak all the settings. You can also use QuickTime pro as I mentioned. Or if you are using final cut express or final cut studio pro, there are a lot of different options for exporting as QuickTime using your own custom settings. Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

Comments: 2 Responses to “MacMost Now 223: Compressing Video with ffmpegX”

    10 years ago

    You end up having 2 pay 4 it though…

    10 years ago

    Just got this program, and the huge number of options make it a little intimidatiing. Thanks for walking me through the basics.

Comments Closed.