Adjusting Image Size in Compressor

Posted on by Larry

[ This article was first published in the February, 2009, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Herb Isaacs writes:

I have a 1 minute clip I want to make a streaming video on my website. The master is 720×480 NTSC. I would like the final product to be sized at 480×320. I have tried several methods of export including using Compressor at the highest bit rate, but it always comes out smaller…I think 320×240. Is there any way I can control the size of display on the site?

Larry replies: Herb, it isn’t the data rate that determines image size. It’s the geometry tab in Compressor.


By default, it is set to make all web video at 320 x 240. You change this by loading your setting into the Inspector…


… clicking the Geometry tab, and changing the Dimensions of the encoded pixels to the size you want.

More Questions on Compression

Chris Driscoll writes:

On your Compressor 3 tutorial you discuss chaining. You show a two step process to convert an HD video into MPEG-2 for a SD DVD, first using an animation codec. You are demonstrating chaining, so the exact settings of the conversion to the animation codec are not discussed. (I tried the Compressor manual, but he word “animation” is not even mentioned).


1. What are the proper settings and which animation codec should I use if I am going 16×9 HD into 720×480 16×9 SD (with the intent of following this with a MPEG-2 compression for SD DVD)?


I will be working primarily with 60i. Is there a way to use a similar two step workflow for compressing to SD MPEG-2 in 24P also (I noticed that the animation codecs in Compressor are all NTSC or PAL)?


2. I know you recommend an average bit rate of 5.5 and a max bit rate of 7.2 for compressing to MPEG-2 for SD DVD’s. Compressor defaults to an average bit rate of 6.2 and max bit rate of 7.7, which you said is also fine. If I’m making shorter DVD’s and space is not an issue for me, is this the highest average and max bit rates you would recommend to insure compatibility with any DVD player?

Larry replies: Thanks for writing, Chris!

There is only one Animation codec. Think of it as totally uncompressed video. HUGE file sizes, but no loss in quality. It will exactly mimic whatever image size, frame rate, and scanning (progressive vs interlacing) you are using. It is an intermediate codec – it is designed to move files from one format to another. It is not designed for real-time playback and definitely not for distribution.

For the answer to your second question, see the next story.

Catherine writes:

If I have a 10 minute show and take it through Compressor, the only (best) choice I have for compression is using the “90 minute best quality” selection. It seems like an awful waste. Is there another way that could make the show look better, even though it looks good with the “90 minute” selection. I’m thinking there might be a way of compressing less than for a 90 minute show.

Larry replies: Thanks for writing, Catherine. It is always good to hear from you. MPEG-2 doesn’t work the way you are asking.

You can leave the settings as is for even very short videos. Boosting the data rate causes stuttery playback on most set-top boxes. Don’t raise the average bit rate above 6.5 and don’t rate the maximum bit rate over 7.5.

Lower is actually better.


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