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Converting and compressing mp4 video for iBook Author

10879 Views 9 Replies Latest reply: Nov 13, 2012 1:38 AM by peterwhitetom RSS
edteck Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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Jun 20, 2012 10:03 PM

I'm working on an iBook on Propaganda in WW II and would like to include loads of videos.


The Internet Archive has a great collection:

Example: "Out of the Frying Pan Into the Firing Line (1942)"


Most are in mp4 format.  I have tried bringing the mp4 into QT or iMovie and both seem to do about the same job of converting. Plus they increase file size by about 50%


Primary question

I'm targeting my iBook as a free resource for schools. File size is an issue for school iPads that might be 16 GB. Is there anyway to reduce file size, without losing quality? I saw some discussions about Compressor, but that seems to be designed for Final Cut Pro and I'm not a video expert.


Secondary question:

Is there any way to improve the quality of these old videos. Perhaps there are some settings I'm missing in QT or iMovie??


I'm an instructional design guy - not a video guy. Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated ... especially in  laymen's terms.



MacBook Air, Mac OS X (10.7.4)
  • MichiHenning Level 4 Level 4 (1,350 points)
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    Jun 21, 2012 4:54 AM (in response to edteck)

    I had a look at that video. It's 480x360, with a bit rate of 560 kB/sec.


    You can use Handbrake (free) to transcode the video to any bit rate you like. Use the iPad preset, change from the default "Constant quality" setting to "Average bit rate", select "2-pass encoding" and "Turbo first pass". Set the bit rate to 500 kB/sec, and you'll get a video very much the same size as the original. (Allow the anamorphic encoding with rounding, so you get a 480x352 video output.)


    You can tinker with the bit rate to trade off quality for size. You can also change the size of the video to make it smaller. (Making it larger is pointless, because the program can't put back information that wasn't there in the first place.)


    Handbrake also allows you to change aspect ratio via cropping and/or stretching.



  • K T Level 7 Level 7 (23,215 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 21, 2012 6:32 AM (in response to edteck)

    Secondary question:

    Is there any way to improve the quality of these old videos. Perhaps there are some settings I'm missing in QT or iMovie??

    It may depend strictly on your particular content. You'd need to work with it and see how it looks on a device, but practically speaking, you can't do much if the video is poor. If it is simply standard video, you can output in a HD format but there isn't any magic that will make it perfect, of course.


    As for size tho, the tools available, such as Apple's Compressor, work to generate platform specific (iPad) content while reducing size and keeping quality as high as possible.


    I suggest to get to work and see what you can do...the good news is the tools and your target are easily compatible so you won't need to do much more than pick the output and go.

  • tk0us Level 2 Level 2 (265 points)
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    Jun 21, 2012 3:25 PM (in response to edteck)

    Get QuickTime Pro and export for web. saves files in more compressed .m4v sizes.


    place the movies in Keynote and export to iTunes


    Both have worked for me...

  • MichiHenning Level 4 Level 4 (1,350 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 21, 2012 3:40 PM (in response to edteck)

    Have you been able to use Handbrake to produce video that IBA accepts?

    No, not directly. The m4v files produced by Handbrake won't be accepted by IBA, sorry :-(  You can use Handbrake to transcode to a lower bit rate and to change aspect ratio, and then convert the file produced by Handbrake with QT, iMovie, or iTunes. But, as you say, that roughly doubles the file size.


    I'm sorry, I can't find a work-around for that size blow-out.



  • YouriPadBookDotCom Calculating status...

    I use iMovie to create mp4s, or do you recommend handbrake?



  • peterwhitetom Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 13, 2012 1:38 AM (in response to edteck)

    i know a powerful video compressor and a step by step guide on how to reduce the file size of various video with almost no loss of video quality at How to Compress   MP4, MKV, AVI, MPEG, MOV, FLV, WMV, VOB?


    it supports compress video in whatever video formats like compress MP4, compress AVI, compress MPEG, compress MKV, compress MOV, compress FLV, compress WMV, compress VOB, compress AVCHD, compress 1080p, compress MPEG2 and etc.


    hope it helps more or less


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