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Good compression settings for iPod videos

I've been tinkering with compression settings on videos, trying to find the best balance of size, quality, compression settings and compatibility for my video-capable iPod ever since the beginning of November. H.264 is very nice and cool, but it takes forever and a day to compress using QuickTime Pro's export to iPod option. Since I'm not really interested in projecting my videos in large on the wall via an HD-capable projector, there's no need to pick it over MPEG-4. Also, I want to make sure that my videos, especially ones like the video podcasts we do here at TUAW, are viewable by as many people as possible. So the best option is to wrap it in a .mov wrapper. That way, anyone with QuickTime should be able to watch the file.

So, in order to do this nicely, I first installed 3ivx as the codec to use. I've been meaning to try the new Divx codec, but haven't had a chance yet. I open the file I want to convert in QuickTime Pro and choose Export to Movie and hit the Options button. This will bring up a Movie Settings panel like the one pictured with this post:
  • Choose Settings... and pick the 3ivx D4 4.5.1 codec, set the quality to medium, the frame rate to 24 and bitrate to 400 kbits/sec.
  • Then adjust the size. If you have a 740x480 video file, then shrink it down to 360x240.
  • Set the sound to AAC 44.100 kHz Stereo at 160kbps.
  • If you are hosting the file online, check the Prepare for Internet Streaming box and select Fast Start.
That's it. The resulting file will be reasonably sized and playable in a browser, on your iPod or on any QuickTime compatible system.

I've been tinkering with compression settings on videos, trying to find the best balance of size, quality, compression settings and...