High-speed Internet and social media Web sites make sharing videos with friends and family much easier these days than ever. If you want to share more than a minute or so, or want to make them viewable on smart phones and reduce download times, though, it's always a good idea to make the file size as small as possible without losing too much quality. Compressing video files according to their content can make a huge difference.
Without getting too technical, the video file format extension (.wmv, .avi, .mp4 etc.) will tell you which programs can open and run the file, but that's only half the story. These file formats are actually container formats, which comprise a video file and an audio file, each compacted according to a compression format, or codec. You don't need to know too much about these, just being aware that you can treat audio and video in your media files separately can create smaller files.
Video editing software
If your version of WindowsR didn't come with Movie Maker preinstalled, you can download it free from MicrosoftR. As well as being a basic media editor, it's a useful tool for compressing files. An alternative is the free version of NCH VideoPad Editor, or do an internet search for video editing software and download a few trial versions until you find one you like. Although we'll be looking at Windows Movie Maker and .wmv files, the principles are the same whichever software you use.
First, get your native file into your video editing program. Usually this is a simple matter of connecting the device (camcorder etc.) to your computer and allowing your computer to copy the file into a folder on your hard drive, which you then open in Windows Movie Maker (WMM). Or, you can add files from within the software by using File> Import From Device.
Make a note of the dimensions of the original video. There's no point saving a video to a HD quality 1920 by 1080 pixels that was recorded at 640 by 480, as you'll just end up with a large file of blocky quality. Also note the frame rate, bit rate and audio quality. You can find these by right clicking on the file in Windows Explorer and clicking on Properties, then the Details tab.
Reduce File Size
With your file open, do the following to reduce file size and add compression to video files:
Experiment with changing the bit rate on both sound and video until you achieve the smallest file size with the best quality. If you are uploading to YouTubeR or other social media sties, WMM has built in uploaders that are preset to give good results for each Web site.