Best Practices: Mac MP4 Export Settings?

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  • Updated 2 months ago

You do a great job of demonstrating best practices on using Editing features. Would someone please document some Best Practices and Settings for exporting MP4's on a Mac?
  1. What's the difference between MP4 and MP4 Main Concept?
  2. Why is my 5:00 video over 200 MB?
  3. Which settings and data rates will yield realistic file sizes with good quality?
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Rick Kerner

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Posted 2 months ago

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Brooks, Camtasia Technical Product Manager

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MP4 uses macOS's native AVFoundation stack to encode. It's the default and preferred export option. Main Concept is a 3rd party decoder / encoder we license. We've been trying to disentangle ourselves from it for several years so we can avoid the rather hefty licensing costs that come along with it. We're fairly close there, but if memory serves we still use it for decoding in some edge cases and since we're paying for it we've kept the encoder around. I may be getting the specific details wrong here, but the I believe the gist is correct--I'd have to go pick the brains of our rendering team engineers and then figure out how to translate the hieroglyphics back to you if you need more deets. ;-)

File sizes will vary wildly based on what type of content it is and the frame and resolution you are targeting. For instance, real world footage shot with camera will typically have way more variance from frame to frame (motion and color) than screen recordings of an application. 4K video is four times the size of 1080p HD video and balloons file sizes significantly. Same goes for frame rate differences. Screen video these days often involves more than rather simplistic software displays (e.g. recording websites like YouTube or Shader Toy), so it's possible for screen recordings to get very complex and have lots of change from frame to frame.

As far as encoding settings go, it all depends on what the destination is. As someone with a past life in post-production I can tell you that it's a bit of a dark art. Lot's of trial and error with different types of content until you build up a sense of what will work for the type of content you are dealing with and the destination it is going to.

So where is the destination of the content?

  • Local production for upload to video sites like YouTube, Vimeo, etc. (big commercial video sites transcode the video you upload into a variety of different formats, sizes and quality levels).
  • TechSmith sites like and Video Review use what we call a pass-through technique (they do not transcode into different delivery formats, sizes and quality settings--the video you upload is what will literally be downloaded and viewed by users).
  • Self-hosted site.
  • Commercial broadcast.
  • Local intended for another post production tool / workflow?

^Each of those is going to have different requirements for encoding settings. And again, depending on the content you may have to fiddle with settings to ensure you are getting the quality to size that meets your needs.

It’s not hopeless, but it’s not one-size fits all. Some destinations will require less adjustment once you've done a bit of experimenting. If you give me a destination / workflow then I can try to tell you where I would start.