Be mindful of delivery

If you are planning to deliver video on the Web, you need to take advantages of size and compression features that optimize video for the Web.

Exporting video to Web

When you are exporting a movie project to a Quicktime (.mov) or MPEG-4 (.mpv4) file, you need to select settings that are compatible with the end use of your movie. If people are going to watch your movie on a large screen HD TV, you choose the highest definition settings compatible with the TV in question. On the other hand, if people are going to be watching the video on the Web, you must “dumb down” your settings so that your viewers don’t spend all night downloading your movie.

File > Export

Note: You must have your Final Cut Project file (.fcp), NOT a previously exported Quicktime movie (.mov) file open in Final Cut.

Final Cut Export DialogWith your completed video sequence selected in Final Cut, you select File > Export and then you should not select QuickTime Movie unless you set up your project preferences in the beginning to be Web optimized. Instead, select “Using QuickTime Conversion...."

After selecting “Using QuickTime Conversions,” Final Cut gives you a “Save As” dialog where the Format is "QuickTime Movie” with “Default Settings.”

We do want a QuickTime Movie, but we do not want to use the default settings. So what we have to do is to click on the Options button, which gives us options for Video, Audio and Internet Streaming settings

Final Cut Movie Export Settings

The default settings for Internet Streaming (Fast Start) and for Sound (48k, 15-bit) should be acceptable. What we need to adjust are the settings for Video. The Video portion of the Movie Settings will default to whatever they were as you were working with them. For the Web, you should at a minimum pay attention to dimensions, frame rate, quality and compression. Other settings may help you reduce the size of your QuickTime file even further.

The dimensions you use may have a dramatic impact on file size. If you are shooting standard defintion in 4x3 format, a typical export dimension would be 320 x 240. YouTube LARGE FORMAT dimensions are 425 x 355. You do not want to go larger than that for the Web. If you are shooting 16 x 9 format, a good size would be 426 x 213.

Settings: H. 264 compression is standard for a QuickTime movie, but you may have reason to select MPEG-4 video (which you would do for a video Podcast). Either is acceptable. A frame rate of 24 frames per second typically is fine, and APPEARS to the eye on the Web just as good as the 30 fps that is standard for NTSC. If you are really trying to reduce file size, 15 fps may be adequate, especially if you do not have a lot of fast motion. The Compressor Quality should be either High or Medium, with Medium being more efficient on file size. Leave Encoding and Data Rate at their default settings of “Best” and “Automatic” respectively.

Final Cut Export Size settings dialogFilter: Do not change filter settings.

Size: As we discussed before, changing the size (dimension) setting is one of the quickest ways you can have profound impact on the size of your movie export. If you have shot in 4x3 format, 320 x 240 works, but you should not be larger than 425 x 355. For a 16 x 9 aspect ratio, you should choose 426 x 213.

Note: The highest dimension setting available at this writing is HD 1920 x 1080. The data output from such a setting could be so dense that you would have to have a Blu Ray or HD-DVD disk burner to be able to package anything larger than just a few minutes of news. It would not be suitable for the Web, where the download time would be considerable.