Why do I care about file size?

The smaller the file size, the longer the clip can be (when recorded on the card in the camera). While this is not a problem for most shooters, it can be one when shooting interviews or recording testimonials. On the Canon EOS 5D Mark II for example, the clips are only allowed to be 4gb in size on the card.

The logic

Since the camera codec is using a variable bitrate, the best way to reduce file size is to make it as easy as possible for it to encode the clip. To do so, you should look for:

  • uniform background: less details to capture
  • non moving background: still sections compress better
  • blur the background: less details to capture
  • have the subject wear non-stripped/uniform clothing: less details and they are out of fashion anyways

The quick test

If you have the choice between different background or composition, an easy way to figure out which one will result in the smallest file is to turn the camera capture mode to JPEG and take a picture of each subject.

Then, look at the file size of each (info button). The smallest picture will (all other things being constant) result in a smaller clip.

Voila, that was easy!

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