written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/22/2010
Post-production often requires video compression, so finding a free program is important.
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Shrinking the File
Digital video production and post-production almost requires some form of video compression. The different platforms for distribution, from websites to DVD, all require something slightly different. No matter what platform it is, a standard QuickTime file will usually be too big. This is the reason that every video editor must have a video compression program in his or her tool belt, and a free video editor is much better than one that costs a lot of money.
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Lots of Compressors
There are a number of programs out there that will let you do certain type of video compressions. This is one of the most pervasive types of free, or semi-free, software on the Internet. Even programs like iTunes and Divx will allow you to do this in some fashion.
What separates a great video compression program apart from the pack is the number of file types it can work with and its specific design in conjunction with digital video post-production.
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Prism AVI/Video Converter Software is a great program that supports a number of formats, including .wmv, divX, and a variety of mpeg formats. The problem is that its full version costs, but the free version available on its website is good enough for almost all uses. Their website also has links to a number of other types of conversion software, such as a converter for VHS to DVD transfer.
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Open Video Converter and MSU Lossless Video Codec are two programs that are plastered all over the Internet, but neither programs are stellar. Together they may be able to get the majority of your projects done. They fall under the same problem that programs like OGM to AVI Converter and PPT to Videoscout fall into, they do one or two conversions very well and leave the rest of the formats behind.
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One absolutely free compression program that stands above the rest is the RAD Video Tools. Again, it will not do everything, but it is fairly reliable. The rule of thumb with free compression software is that you usually need two or three different programs to get everything done.
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If you are serious about video publishing then you may already have a great video editing package. If this is true you might just want to stick with their onboard video compression tools. An all-purpose video compression program like Apple’s Compressor is better than almost anything you will be able to find for free.