I recently purchased one of the Kodak Playsport cameras which takes 720p video @ 60 frames per second.

The video quality is great but the files are rather large for uploading to Youtube (about 150 Megs per minute of video). The files are output as Quicktime MOV files.

My question is:

Is there a command-line tool that allows me to shrink the video down to a lower resolution/size for quicker uploading? I'm thinking something like ImageMagick's convert but for video.

2 Answers 2


There are a number video transcoders that you could use to covert mov files to different formats suitable for uploading. Handbrake is a popular one that has both a GUI and command-line version (handbrake-gtk or handbrake-cli). To use Handbreak on Ubuntu, you need to add a PPA:

https://edge.launchpad.net/~handbrake-ubuntu/+archive/ppa or the more current https://launchpad.net/~stebbins/+archive/ubuntu/handbrake-releases

I personally like, transmageddon which is a GUI app with nice simple pre-sets. It's available in the archives.


Another option is arista, another GUI transcoder available in the archives. In fact, it is a "Featured Application" in Ubuntu Software Center.

ffmpeg is another command line option that offers a lot of flexibility but can be a bit complex.

  • Good answer. I totally forgot about ffmpeg although both of the gui based apps look good too.
    – alexpotato
    Oct 5, 2010 at 12:48
  • WinFF is a front end to ffmpeg and it converts anything to anything. Oct 5, 2010 at 15:17
  • This answer is still helpful! Transmageddon is a wonderful tool! Oct 19, 2014 at 15:51
  • Unfortunately in their stupidity Youtube has began erroring out when given theora stream. So, while it is a correct answer, it may be not useful for Youtube uploader.
    – v010dya
    Oct 16, 2019 at 9:45

I use those options with ffmpeg (example with a video of 1m40s of 725MB 4096x2304):

MP4 conversion, Medium video quality with sound codec aac(245MB):

ffmpeg -i a.mov -f mp4 -vcodec libx264 -preset fast -profile:v main -acodec aac output.mp4

MP4 conversion, Medium video quality with sound codec mp2(218MB):

ffmpeg -i a.mov -f mp4 -vcodec libx264 -preset fast -profile:v main -acodec mp2 output.mp4

Avi conversion, Low quality (120MB)

ffmpeg -i a.mov b.avi

In addition you can reduce resolution with option

-vf scale=1024:576

MP4 conversion, Medium video quality with sound codec aac with rescaling (21MB):

ffmpeg -i a.mov -f mp4 -vcodec libx264 -preset fast -profile:v main -acodec aac -vf scale=1024:576 output.mp4

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