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How Big Are 4K Video Files (And What Are Your Options)?


As a content creator, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed when I first heard about 4K videos. With larger file sizes and more storage needed, I was wondering how 4K video files compared to other video file types. So, I decided to do a bit of research to find out more about 4K video files, the pros and cons of using them, and the different options available for creating and storing them. In this blog post, I’ll be sharing what I learned, so that you can decide if 4K video files are the right choice for your projects.

Videos with 4K resolution are about four times the size of your average HD video. This is because 4K videos have more pixels, showing more details and better colors.

What Factors Contribute to File Size?

The size of your video depends on many different aspects. Here are some of the notable factors that can contribute to your file size:

Video Length

One of the most obvious factors is the video length. A 20-minute video is likely to be a smaller file size than an hour-long video, given that they’re of the same quality.

Resolution

The resolution of the video refers to the number of pixels it has. Generally, the more pixels a video has, the higher the resolution and quality. 

With 4K resolution, you’re able to see sharper images and more colors that a normal HD video can’t produce. That being said, higher resolution also means a larger file size

Format

The format of the video plays a large role in its size. Some formats, like mp4 or mkv, are used by most casual videographers and viewers. There are also other formats that are more often used by professionals. 

There are two components that make up the format of your file: the codec and the container.

The codec (“coder” and “decoder”) is software or hardware tasked with compressing and decompressing video files

You’d need to compress files for storage and for transferring, then decompress them for editing or viewing the video. For digital HD videos, the most common codec used is h.264.

You can imagine the container as the box that holds your video, audio, and other data. This is what you’ll see at the end of file names, like mp4, mov, avi, and mkv. 

Online, most videos use mp4 because it can be relatively smaller than other formats while still retaining its high quality. It’s also highly compatible across different devices and operating systems.

Frame Rate

The frame rate, or the frames per second (FPS), describes the number of images played in each second of video. Videos are made up of several still images that are played in quick succession.

For example, videos filmed at 30 FPS have 30 images playing one after the other per second of video. Videos with a higher frame rate will tend to be a larger size.

What Are the Common Video Types and Sizes?

Most videos are now usually available in 720p (also known as HD or HD Ready) at the least. 720p videos have a pixel size of 1280 x 720, and an hour of video in this resolution ranges from 800–900MB.

1080p, or Full HD, has a pixel size of 1920 x 1080p. The file size for an hour of 1080p video can grow to 1.2–1.4GB.

There are other options in between, but jumping to 4K, this resolution has a pixel size of 3840 x 2160. 4K is also known as Ultra HD and can range from 20–22GB per hour of video.

How Can I Reduce the Size of My Video?

You may want to cut down the size of your video to save yourself some trouble with transferring and storing your files. If you’re shooting a 4K video on a phone with only 32GB of storage, you’ll quickly fill it up, causing your phone to slow down.

Transferring a large file to another device or hard drive can also be a pain because of how long it can take. If you want to upload your file to the internet, online file-sharing services usually limit how much you can upload unless you pay for it. So this leaves you with the option of resizing your video file.

You can change one or more aspects of your video file to reduce its size. For example, one way is converting the format from h.264 to HEVC. Some phones already give you the option to save space this way because it doesn’t sacrifice your video quality. However, one downside to this format is that some applications and websites don’t support it.

Another option is using some software that will let you lower your video’s FPS. If you don’t mind reducing the video quality a bit, then you can also downscale from 4K to 1080p to save yourself some time and storage.

Wrapping Up

There are plenty of factors that contribute to a video file’s size. Still, it’s almost guaranteed that a 4K resolution video will be larger than your standard HD video. 

You can change up aspects of your video file to suit your needs, either by fixing your camera settings before shooting or resizing your video file using a program.

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