Apple’s video compression application Compressor is great, but sometimes limited. One of it’s major limits is the ability to produce decent mp4 video files. I tried, and tried, and tried .. and failed. Damn.

But then I found this neat little trick and now my mp4 files are small and look gorgeous! Here’s how:

  1. Use compressor to produce a .mov file with H.264 compression. Compressor is fantastic with H.264
  2. Open your .mov file in Quicktime Pro
  3. Choose File > Export > Movie to MPEG-4 > Options
  4. Set Video tab > Pass through, audio tab > Pass through (or whatever)
  5. Export and you’re done! Professional quality mpeg-4.

This way Quicktime converts the file to mpeg 4 while leaving the H.264 video unchanged. It just ‘waps’ the H.264 is a mp4 file format. After all mov, avi, wmv and mp4 are just ‘container’ formats. You can use any codec inside. H.264 is superior to the original mpeg-4 codec.

Why go though all this trouble and not simply use a .mov file? Well, in general mp4 is better implemented in Flash video players than mov. Flash can show mov files with H.264 video but many Flash players don’t implement it. Or at least not very well.

Now off you go and make this world look great!

// UPDATE januari 2010: this blogpost is outdated. If you want H.264 files for your Flash video WordPress plugin then this is a better solution: the new Compressor 3.5 has presets for the Apple devices iPod, iPhone or AppleTV. The resulting H.264 .m4v files also work with the Flash video player. Great quality, no hassle!