What Makes Movie File Sizes So Large?
There are many factors that go into making video files supersized. These include:
- Video length: The shorter the movie duration, the smaller the video size is likely to be. Of course, a 20-minute vlog for YouTube is a smaller file than a feature-length film, but even an animated short film will be made of up larger files than, say, a mini documentary of the same length.
- Resolution: Also referred to as “pixel size,” resolution is technically the number of pixels per unit of area, but ultimately refers to “the number of pixels arranged horizontally and vertically on a monitor.” The number of pixels impacts video quality, which then impacts video file size. The higher your film quality, the more pixels make up the image – and the larger the file size. The video frame rate will also play a role in the resolution.
- Format: The format of a video plays the biggest role in its quality and eventual file size, and certain broadcasters or streaming services have different minimum standards for delivery. Formats range from consumer-friendly to professional-grade, with others geared towards content creators of all levels. For example, highly compressed mp4 or mkv file types are typically geared toward the end consumers of media. Format is made up of two components, both of which guide your file size:
- Codec: This portmanteau of “coder” and “decoder” refers to how your files are encoded (compression for storage or sending) and then decompressed (for playback and editing). It can be either a computer code or hardware, like your camera, that dictates the file’s digital format and how it’s compressed for editing, watching, storing, or transferring. The codec that is most-used on web is currently h.264.
- Containers: It may help to think of the container as the file type; for example .mov or .mp4. This is the complete bundle of all your files – audio, visual, etc. – together as one. The container will sometimes also include metadata, such as author, frame rate, dates, and overall file information. Other popular containers include ogg, mkv, and avi.
- Frame rate: Also called “frames per second” and usually shortened to FPS, this is the rate at which back-to-back images (called frames) appear in a display and form moving imagery. Video content that we consume daily isn’t actually moving; instead, all videos are made up of images that play one after the other. If a video is shot at 24fps, this means that 24 individual frames are played back in a second. While the standard for consumer video is 30ftps, the FPS standard rate varies across mediums depending on multiple other factors.
- Camera choice: Cameras capture different file sizes simply due to the quality, size, and detail included. A higher-res camera will output larger file sizes than a more basic camera.
- Innovations: Other innovations, such as Next Gen TV, offer even more in the way of enhanced experience. This emerging tech offers both 4K ultra-high definition and interactive features. The film and broadcast industries are constantly improving and evolving to remain competitive, which results in more features, higher resolution, and – ideally – a better watching experience.
Improve Your Video File Transfer Agility
The continual growth in video file size parallels the growing concern about how to manage these extra-large files without losing quality or data. Large file sizes typically results in extra processing requirements, including more storage space on memory cards or hard drives, and longer processing times to save, copy, and transfer movie files.
Getting the best quality possible can come with tradeoffs. Says Director of Pro Video Marketing Matt Feury, “there is no best way, just the best way for your particular project. Do you have more time than storage? More money than time? The key is projection agility.” But compromises can have negative returns too.
Related Reading: File Transfer for Live Events
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One of the most common tools used to simplify data movement is file compression, but it’s not the end-all-be-all solution. Compressing videos adds complications, including data loss, which can result in lower-quality files to work with. The choice to compress video files needs to take the resolution, frame rate, and any visual preferences into account.
The goal is always to deliver the best possible final product that fits the budget and timeline. That’s where FileCatalyst for video file transfer comes in.
Related Reading: How FileCatalyst and Scale Logic Partner to Accelerate Media File Transfers
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Using a fast file transfer solution like FileCatalyst can reduce the number of trade-offs you make as you film and edit your video files. Fast file transfer solutions are adept at transferring extremely large files over long distances, which means you can create longer films at higher resolutions without worrying how you’re going to get the data from A to B.