Exactly what will need to be done with those output files?
Will you need to re-edit the files, deliver them as streaming media (what method), deliver them for playback on a computer (Mac, PC, or both)?
That will likely determine which CODEC's you will choose.
Good luck, and please let us know a bit more,
Typically there is an expectation that the files will be emailed to somebody (as opposed to being uploaded to a shared server).
Usually I know if the recipient is anchored to a Wintel or Mac platform.
OK, to get the most "bang for the buck," you might explore the DivX, or Xvid (free, open-source version of DivX), as a compression CODEC. Both allow for good quality, at high compression. They are popular for streaming video too.
Now, the recipient will also need the DivX, or Xvid CODEC installed. However, one can download JUST the DivX CODEC, or the Xvid CODEC for free.
Over the years, I have used DivX (I have the full commercial set of DivX utilities, plus their latet CODEC's) many times out of both PrE and PrPro. That said, I have not been so fortunate at Encoding to Xvid. While they are supposed to be the same, I have had crashes, where the DivX CODEC worked every time. I understand that there are now newer Xvid CODEC's, and many report good Encodes with them. I have not updated Xvid on my machines, as DivX works just fine for me. Again, just the DivX CODEC is free, but DivX Corp does want to sell the full suite of programs, so those can be a bit tough to locate on the site.
For the recipients, some free video players, like VLC and MediaPlayer Classic HC, contain the necessary playback CODEC's, and work very well. I think that both are PC-only (check me out on that), but there are CODEC's for QT Player, that should get good playback too.
Thanks Bill and John,
I'll look into both AVCHD Lite (on the camera and in PE11 projects) as well as getting the DivX codec. I had used that years ago and thought that it was a free download. I do recall that encoding to AVI using DivX gave good results but that the recipient also needed to have the codec installed.
Anything to get a more reasonable file size. The 21MB for 28 seconds would mean that an actual feature file would require a stack of DVDs instead of just one... :-)
The two primary factors, that determine file size, are Duration and Bit-Rate. As Bit-Rates go down, so do file sizes and quality. Where a CODEC, like DivX comes in, is that it allows for visually higher quality, at lower Bit-Rates.
You are correct that the CODEC (DivX in this case) needs to exist on both ends. Just the CODEC (no utilities) is free, so it's no big deal to get it on both ends, but action by the recipient IS required.
Hollywood is really no different than you and I are - they are bound by the same constraints of physics, as the rest - Duration and Bit-Rate still determine file size. However, and unlike you and me, they have multi-pass Encoding software, and expert Transcoders, who do noting else, 5 days a week. Their US$300,000 software might allow 30 passes, to get the lowest Bit-Rate, but still retain quality, and it is run by folk who do nothing else, and get paid fat salaries for doing nothing but Transcoding. That is where they have the "leg up." Still, the laws of the Universe dictate to them as well.
DivX/Xvid are not the only choices. WMV can do a good job, BUT will preclude easy playback on a Mac. There are options, like Flip4Mac, that allow WMV's to be played seamlessly on the Mac, but they are not usually free.
The H.264 CODEC can be useful in many wrappers, like MOV, MP4, etc., but one often has to either download and install the correct version, and PC users will probably be best served, if they also have Apple's QT Player (free). For the PC, I really like VLC Player, and MediaPlayer Classic HC (both free), but one still has to download and install one of those.
I would shy away (I have had bad experiences in the past) from anything using RealMedia and RealPlayer, but that is just me.
There are other options, like MKV, but again, one must have an MKV-capable player.
No perfect answer.