Reclaim Space by Converting 1080p Videos to 720p

So one of my friendly clients got a new problem for me to solve. He uses a Sony digital camcorder that allows him to record videos in true high definition with a resolution of 1920×1080 (1080p). Well, he uses that camera a lot to record his dancing video lessons and suffice it to say, he is tired of not only having to make room on his existing hard drives for these humongous videos but also from having to buy new one’s. Prior to purchasing the camera, I’ve warned him that by recording in 1080p resolution, the file size for each video will be skyrocket high. He insisted that he wanted to record his videos in the best quality possible. Of course, I suggested to record in 1280×720 (720p) resolution but he felt that by doing so, he wouldn’t be doing the camera justice! Well, that was a couple of years ago. Today, he’s desperately seeking a solution to trim down his existing 1080p video library while still trying to preserve the quality of them. And yes, the process has to be as easy as possible.

Notes to Consider

– The videos I’m working with here consists of files made up with the .mts file extension. Consider this as the file container for the video file. The actual codec used to encode the video is AVCHD. If you also have a digital camcorder that can record in high definition, especially 1080p, there’s a good chance that your video files are also using the same codec and container. I cannot guarantee that you will get the same results shown here if your video files are of different types.

– I am basically cheating here by converting his original 1080p videos into a lower resolution of 720p. If you are put off by this tactic, then I apologize if you’re original intent was to keep the file resolution the same. After much debate with my client, I finally got him to agree with the downgrade in resolution. In fact, he doesn’t even have that many 1080p playback devices! He was just greedy with being able to record in the highest resolution possible so he took advantage of that without fully understanding the consequences nor the reasons for following that route. If you take a look at your video collection right now, ask yourself if every single video needs to be in full high definition.

– My friend was happy with the results of the conversion because the converted 720p file still looks very good when compared to the full blown 1080p version. Of course, your miles may vary and everyone has different opinions on what looks good or not. If you are curious as to how your converted video will look like, then simply follow the tutorial below. Your original 1080p file will not be altered in any way, shape or form so no harm will be done.

Using Format Factory

Once again, the utility I will be using to convert the videos will be none other than the super awesome Format Factory, my favorite media converter. Below, you’ll see the original file size of the video I am trying to convert. This video comprises of only about 2 minutes and 42 seconds of video footage! My friend’s digital camcorder records in files of about 12-13 minutes each before splitting it into a new file. Each file is about 3GB in size.

Original Size

You can download Format Factory from here. Post Format Factory installation, you’ll noticed the Ask Toolbar installed on your browsers along with your homepage being altered as well to the’s search page. Although this is a very shady tactic of any software, you can easily uninstall the toolbar and reset your homepage to what it was before
  1. Open up Format Factory. One the left pane, simply select the “All to AVI” button.
  2. Click on the Output Setting button in the resulting window.
  3. You’ll see a lot choices and options to play with in the new window. We’ll need to configure only about 2-3 different settings. First is “Video Encode”. This is the codec used to encode our new video. Remember, AVI is the container but the codec is the setting that ultimately decides how our video will look. You can leave the option set to the default (MPEG4 Xvid) or use AVC (H264). I found the latter option allowed me to save a little more space as the resulting video was a bit smaller than one encoded with Xvid. However, the video looked the same when compared to each other.
  4. Next we have the “Video Size”. This option allows us to set the resolution of our video. I highly suggest you to select the 1280×720 (HD Device) option. 720p is still considered high definition. Of course, 1080p is better but the purpose of this project is to save space while still trying to preserve quality.
  5. The last option we need to set is the “Aspect Ratio”. The video’s I’ve seen recorded in 1080p or 720p for that matter usually yields a aspect ratio of 16:9. This ratio is meant for widescreen monitors. So, that’s the option I’ll suggest you to select here.
  6. Once we have selected our three options, hit on the OK button. Now we need to browse for our original video file to be converted. Click on the Add File button and browse to your video file. If you’re doing a test run, it’s best to just select a small sample file to convert first so you can preview the results. Hit OK once you’ve added your files.
  7. You should now be taken back to the home screen of Format Factory. Each video to be converted is considered a “job” or “task”. Hit the ‘Start” button at the top to begin the conversion process.

All to AVIOutput Setting ButtonVideo Encode OptionVideo Size OptionAspect Ratio OptionAdd FileStart Conversion

Video conversions are usually very CPU intensive. The bigger and better quality your original video file is, the longer it should take for the job to complete. Of course, it also depends on what options you have selected. Once you’ve gotten an idea of how long one video takes to be converted, the other videos (assuming they are of same quality and size) should take about the same amount of time.

Once the conversion process has finished, you can then access the video file. By default, Format Factory will store your converted files in:

C:Users* || username* || Documents|| FFOutput

Below you’ll see the file size for my converted video, which I’ve managed to shave off 310MB give or take, from the original:

Converted Video Size

Of course, it’s really hard for me to show you the video quality differences between the original video and the converted video so you’ll just either have to take my word for it or perform this little experiment yourself if you are looking for ways to shrink your recorded high definition videos. The process I’ve described above in my opinion is fairly easy to perform and I’m sure you would agree as well. I’ve managed to help my client save about 1/4 the hard drive space for each of his 1080p video file. So, for every 1080p file he had previously (each file being 12 minutes long and about 3GB in size), he can now fit 4 of them in its place. These savings are huge considering how much videos he has in his collection. I’m sure he had a lot of fun performing the conversion process. OK, maybe not.

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