Editor's note: This post was updated February 20, 2017 to reflect changes in video formats and video mamanagement.
When we set up digital asset management systems for our clients, they typically contain a full mix of marketing's brand assets....images, logos, brochures, audio and video.
As corporate marketing departments are adding more video production and video services into their content mix, the wrench in adding these files to a DAM system is the relative size of a video file compared to other file types. Typical hi-res image files pale in comparison to high resolution videos, not to mention videos that are longer than 30 seconds in length. A hi-res image from a digital SLR camera can be around 50 Megabytes. That’s less than ten seconds of HD video that comes off a typical Video camcorder. If you do the math, you see how storing video can eat up hard drive space very quickly.
One way to combat this is to store what are called "Mezzanine" files in the DAM system. They are compressed videos that take up less space than the full res files, but are hi res "enough" that they make great quality, highly compressed videos typically used on the web.
For example, if you create a “Mezzanine” file using mpeg 4 (either mp4 or h.264 .mov at about 10 Mbps) for a 10 minute video, it will look great on a high resolution monitor. The benefit is the file will only take up to one tenth of the disk space as the full resolution version. The mezzanine file is “high enough” quality that it will make very high quality smaller, more compressed version for web viewing, or to publish to YouTube. You will see virtually no visible difference in the quality of the compressed versions created from the mezzanine verses one made directly from the source file. Vid-heads will argue about this, including myself. But make no mistake, they....we are looking at it under a microscope. The average viewer will see no difference.
If your video collection is growing, and you are worrying about storing all the hi res versions, settling on a mezzanine format may be a great solution for you. Or learn more about improving access and distribution of videos.