How do you compress a video so that it is a manageable size for protools? What codec do you recommend and what is a manageable size for LE? The original video is 360 mb and it is 7min color. I can't seem to get the right settings in compressor. Mp4 size only brings it down to 310mb and h.264 brought it up to 1.1gig.

5 Answers 5


File size is less of an issue than bit-rate is. People from Avid will tell you to stay away from H.264 with Pro Tools if you can.

As C3Sound mentioned, DV is best (whether you're using NTSC or PAL...). So, use DV NTSC/PAL or DV50 NTSC/PAL as needed. If you have the option 2 Pass VBR will net you a more efficient encode. It takes longer, but it runs smoother.

As I've already mentioned, bit rate/streaming is a big factor. You'll find the video will play back much smoother and cause less strain in your PT session if you have a separate/dedicated video drive. For the best functionality with video, Pro Tools likes 3 drive (OS, Project/Audio, and Video). If you can split out the data onto multiple drives that way, the actual seek time of the drive and the bus speed will be less of an issue.

  • Amen on the 3 drive structure. And when working with DV, don't forget to invest in a Firewire DV box like the Canopus ADVC-100 or Sony DVMC DA2. It takes the load of converting the video file off the cpu (and frees up screen real estate). Avid recommends the Canopus but we've got both models working here with no issues. Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 18:39
  • @Steve - i've used the canopus in the past (not for a number of years now though), and it was great. you can also use a video i/o card if you want more flexibility for format output...they're just more expensive. Commented Feb 26, 2011 at 1:26

LE works best with DV-NTSC - if you have some processing power to your comp you can always go H.264 for smaller file size, but sometimes PT can go crazy trying to crank DSP and decompress video at the same time. Only would say use this if you have a quad-core or i7.

H264 shouldnt increase file size. Use Quicktime Pro 7 and make sure everything stays the same with framerate and double check audio isnt being jacked up from 44.1 to 48k or something like that.


If you're not sending the video out to a Firewire box, photo-jpeg is a nice codec to use - reasonable size, seeks incredibly fast (intraframe) and is very quick to transcode from MP4. I have a habit of running any video I receive through QT Sync, and export to photo-jpeg (Quicktime Movie). H.264 is cpu-intensive and I haven't seen either Pro-Tools or Logic seek accurately within it or any other mpeg-4.. Of course, if you have a firewire box, then DV all the way.

7 min 360mb is just fine. It would be roughly 500mb in high quality Photojpeg. 7 minutes in DV would be way more..


360mb for a 7 minute file is pretty small. Not sure if anything smaller will be good enough quality to do sound design for anything detailed you'd have to see.

I generally use H.264 or a Quicktime .mov. The trick to a smaller size is the bitrate. It's a quick calculation to see how big the file will be. You can also take HD footage and scale it down to a smaller screen resolution.

Who is getting you your video files? Are you creating the output yourself? I generally request a .mov from the editor and then go from there.


I compressed it in compressor with DV/DVCPRO - NTSC, Linear PCM, Timecode and the file is now 2GB. It is an 8:45 second movie 2 audio channels bitrate total 30,000. Why is it growing in size when i compress it? The original file is LinearPCM H.264, bit rate 5700, 374 mb.

  • DV has a fixed data rate of ~50000 and you don't need the audio track for PT..
    – georgi
    Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 9:59

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