Updated June 5th, 2020.
I wrote a couple of days ago about Photo Booth and how you can use it to record a movie and then email it. It’s easy, and it’s fun– so easy, and so fun, that just about all of you recorded a movie and emailed it to me. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that these files are a little on the large side. But, there’s more good news: you can easily compress a movie to less than half its original size while retaining almost all of the quality. All you need is “iSquint,” a free download available by clicking here.
(If you get a message that your security settings won’t allow iSquint to open, this article– How to Open a Mac App from an Unidentified Developer— will help you.)
When you start iSquint the first time you’ll get a sales pitch to upgrade to another program. Just say no. You’ll then get a window that looks like this:
The settings are important. When you Optimize for iPod you get a movie that fits an iPod’s screen just perfectly (that is, it’s 320 pixels wide by 240 pixels tall). When you Optimize for TV you get a movie that’s 640 x 480. Tiny Quality gives the smallest file size, while “Go Nuts” Quality gives the largest file size. I like “Standard.” I also like “H.264 Encoding.” I could explain what H.264 means but Wikipedia’s already done that, so click this link and read all about it. All you really need to know is that H.264 is a kind of compression, and it works great. There’s nothing better.
iSquint is really easy to use. Just drag a movie file into the big box (the one under “Drag files below.”). Then click “Start.” Your original movie will be untouched; a compressed copy will be created and saved in the same location as the original. In my experiments, my movies compressed almost in half under “Standard” Quality and almost by a factor of 4 if I went “Tiny.” Choosing “Optimize for iPod” gives another 4x compression since iPod screens are 1/4 the screen dimensions of a Photo Booth-generated movie. Note the “Add to iTunes” button– that will put your movie into iTunes, handy if you want to eventually get it onto your iPod or iPhone.
Be aware that compressing a movie results in some reduction in quality. Here, for example, are three versions of the same frame in a movie.
First is from the original movie, the second is from one compressed with “Standard” settings, and the third is from one compressed with “Tiny” settings. Look around the eyes and the hair– the original is sharper and has more detail. (The sound is better too, though you can’t tell by looking at the picture.) You will have to experiment to find settings that work for you. Keep in mind that the settings that work great for one movie may not be so great on the next one. It’s a case-by-case thing. Luckily, all you have to do is move the slider and click “Start” to see another variation.
(Note: if you’ve recorded a movie in Photo Booth it will be easiest to drag the movie to the Desktop, and from there into iSquint. The compressed movie will be put on the Desktop when the compression process is complete.)
Looking forward to seeing your new, smaller movies.
Copyright 2008-2022 Christian Boyce. All rights reserved.