HD Video Editing: How to Shrink Your Project File and the Best Settings for Exporting HD Video to Compress for Space

HD Video Editing: How to Shrink Your Project File and the Best Settings for Exporting HD Video to Compress for Space
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Project File

HD video has replaced the video formats that were standard for home and independent video production and, though the video quality is exponentially better, you will still find that the file size created by this video format is going to be substantial. When you are editing your HD video, your project file - which includes your post-production files and source videos from capture - is going to get large and will compete for space on your computer or portable hard drive. In an effort to be more economic with your space and to make this process a little more practical, you will have to look for ways to shrink your HD video editing project file. Here are some tips on how to make this folder smaller, as well as how to deal with export and compression in a way to lower the overall drive space taken up.

Getting Rid of the Extras

The first thing that you are going to have to with a large HD video editing project file is to trim the fat, so to speak. This means that you will have to begin cleaning out unused media files that are taking up large amounts of space. In narrative film projects, this can mean getting rid of the capture files for takes and video clips that you are certain you are not going to use. In documentary film, this means clearing out unused files as well, which you can actually collect a lot of in effort to find other footage, music, and photos that will work in your project. To get to a point where you can get rid of unused footage you have to be substantially involved in your HD video editing project already. The working files, that is, the files that are for the programs you are using, should never be deleted and are usually very small in size. When you are deleting footage, you should make sure to check ahead of time to make sure that the existing footage is not moved and if it is, then it must be reconnected in your video editing file.

Best Settings for Exporting HD Video to Compress

Exporting files is a relatively standard part of HD video editing, not just for the finished product. Instead, you will have to export fragments on a regular basis to check things and to work with files in outside programs like After Effects. When doing this, you have to think about the best settings for exporting HD video to compress so that you do not end up taking up too much space, which can actually be a dominant part of your project file.

The main thing to thing about when considering the best settings for exporting HD video to compress is that you want to maintain your project’s settings exactly as you are working with them, especially the frame rate and aspect ratio. Since you will be compressing the video in an outside program, such as Apple’s Compressor, you will want to send the file to that program in a standard size. From here, you may want to utilize the h.264 codec to keep the file size small and so that you can still see a representative playback from your files. If you are going back and forth between programs the best settings for exporting HD video to compress is going to be one that is lossless, and you may need to forgo compression altogether. In these cases, you should delete the exported file when it is done being used, or once you export a different file that was based on the original export. For example, if you export a QuickTime, import it into After Effects, make changes, and then export it again, you should delete the first QuickTime that you exported from your video editing software.


One possibility, though often difficult for your workflow, is to downgrade the resolution of your video files ahead of time. What this means is to compress your video files, edit with those, and then reconnect to the original video files later on before your final export. There are a few ways that this can be done, and this is usually only done in the case of very large and high resolution file types. If you are going to do this, try several tests first, downgrading to h.264 for just the editing project. Still, you will have to maintain digital files of the base footage, so it will not save on total space for your project.