How to Make a File Size Smaller in Adobe After Effects

Making a file size smaller when exporting from After Effects is often necessary, especially if you’re dealing with tight storage limitations or specific delivery requirements. Here are some steps and tips to help you reduce the file size of your After Effects project upon export:

  1. Choose the Right Format and Codec:
    • Instead of using uncompressed formats, use compressed formats like H.264, which will give you a significantly smaller file size compared to something like AVI or QuickTime with Animation codec.
    • When exporting, use the Adobe Media Encoder. Go to Composition > Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue. From there, you can choose various presets or customize your export settings.
  2. Reduce Resolution:
    • If your final output doesn’t need to be in Full HD, consider reducing the resolution. For instance, exporting in 720p instead of 1080p can considerably reduce the file size.
  3. Limit Color Depth:
    • Instead of exporting in 16-bit or 32-bit color, consider exporting in 8-bit color if your project allows for it.
  4. Shorten the Duration:
    • Ensure that you’re only exporting the part of your composition that is necessary. Set the in and out points to only encompass the duration of your content.
  5. Remove Unused Effects and Layers:
    • Any unnecessary effects or layers can increase the file size. Go through your composition and remove anything that isn’t required.
  6. Optimize Assets:
    • If you’re using high-resolution images or videos in your composition, consider scaling them down or compressing them before importing them into After Effects.
  7. Bitrate Settings:
    • When exporting using compressed codecs like H.264, you’ll often have control over the bitrate. Lowering the bitrate will reduce the file size but can also reduce quality. It’s a balancing act, so try to find the sweet spot where the reduction in quality is not too noticeable but gives you a reasonable file size.
  8. Third-Party Plugins and Scripts:
    • There are some plugins and scripts designed to optimize After Effects compositions, which can result in smaller export sizes. One popular option is the Reduce Project script, which helps clean up unused assets and reduce the overall project size.
  9. Consider Using Compression Software:
    • After exporting, you can further compress the video using software like HandBrake. This allows you to adjust settings and reduce file size even more, albeit at potential costs to quality.

Always remember to check the quality of your video after compression. You want to ensure that the file size reduction doesn’t lead to an unacceptable loss in video quality.

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