The Basics on Video Resolution

A Video for Change guide on video making on an Android device shares more on video resolution, which we summarise in this section.

If you are shooting outside, relying on a 3G or 4G connection, and you need to upload immediately, there will be a tension between the desire to shoot the best-quality video available versus the need for a small file size for uploading to the web.

Modern smartphones offer a range of video compressions for recording:

  • Standard Definition (SD)
  • High Definition (HD)
  • Full HD

Shoot in HD or at 720 x 480 for the best quality. Videos shot at 320 x 240 will look blocky. Only shoot at this resolution if you have a very weak internet connection, or a clip is really crucial and needs to be uploaded immediately via a fragile signal.

If you only have a lower-quality phone at your disposal, please see this Video for Change guide on recording high-quality video on low-cost devices.

The file sizes for different mobile video compressions are given in the table below, tested on a Samsung Galaxy Note 2.

Video compression on Android

 

Short name

Name on device

Size in pixels

File size (60 secs)

Full HD

1920 x 1080 / 1080p

1920 x 1080

128mb

HD

1280 x 720 / 720p

1280 x 720

90mb

WVGA/ (Wide SD)

720 x 480 / WVGA

720 x 480

26mb

VGA/ (4:3:SD)

640 x 480 / VGA

640 x 480

23mb

QVGA

320 x 240 / QVGA

320 x 240

7mb

 














What if I Lack Resolution and Connectivity, but I am Shooting an Urgent Story?
Based on the table above, a five-minute Full HD shot would take up more than 600mb, an impractical size for uploading in the field. But there are always exceptions to resolution and compression rules, and you have options.

  • One solution for urgent news is to record in SD and upload this. But, the result is that the SD quality is the best you will attain. If you can wait, shoot in the best quality you can and compress the video on a computer later.  A suggested tool for this is open-source compressor Avidemux.
  • Another solution if you need to upload quickly is to again shoot in the best quality you can but to compress the video on your mobile device, at the scene. Suggested tools for this include Video Compress and Video Compressor.
  • A third option, perhaps the best, is to use a trimmer on your mobile device. One suggestion is VidTrim Pro, which can convert one minute of Full HD to SD in around seven minutes. Here’s more on how to use this tool.










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