How To Convert, Loop & Compress Videos Free Without Watermarks

How To Convert Loop Compress Videos Free Without Watermarks

I wanted to loop a video. I also find that the videos created are large even for just a few minutes. Moreover, knowing how to convert videos between different formats can be useful or essential for a solo video creator like myself. The solution should be free and powerful if possible. I remembered FFMPEG, a command-line powerful program I knew years back but never really got into it beyond the raw basics.

Let us explore how we can use this powerful program that even beginners can understand. This guide will assume your original video file has no watermarks, to begin with, and no watermarks will be added. This guide is not above removing watermarks.

What is ffmpeg? How to install ffmpeg? How to update ffmpeg?

ffmpeg is a powerful command-line tool for converting multimedia file formats that can be downloaded and installed on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and via git clone.

For example, download the Mac zip file, and open and run it. You may have to open up System Preferences -> Security & Privacy and -> General and allow the app to be opened.

Another example is to paste the below code as recommended from the ffmpeg download page into your terminal and enter. This can be the easiest way to both install and update your ffmpeg file.

git clone ffmpeg
ffmpeg git clone example
ffmpeg git clone example

How to convert a video for free without watermarks?

I have chosen the recommended or common settings for conversion e.g MP4 and H.265. Below is the ffmpeg command, you may read more here. Here we will just assume we leave the audio intact.

Let us use a MOV file with the name for example. Open the terminal, type in the following line with the changes, and enter.

$ffmpeg -i IN -c:v libx265 -c:a copy -x265-params crf=25 OUT.mp4 


$ffmpeg -i -c:v libx265 -c:a copy -x265-params crf=25 ProcessedMOVToMP4.mp4 

We just need to change the INPUT and OUT.

INPUT – the name of the file to be converted.

OUT.mp4 – the name of the resultant MP4 file.

Note: The parameter for an output file without (or removing) audio or soundless is ‘-an’. To have audio or sound, please replace ‘-a’ with “-c:a copy”.

Sample MOV file size
Sample MOV file size
new MP4 file size
new MP4 file size

That is a reduction of 35.48% for this small file.

How to quickly play a media with ffmpeg?

If the QuickTime Player is not playing the new media file, then we can test play it with the below command. Aso, I tested the ffmpeg processed files to be working well for YouTube. A clear advantage of using the ffplay is that it can quickly play large files that may take a long time to load with graphical programs.

Included in the ffmpeg utility, there is a fast and useful tool for playing a media file. The command is ffplay followed by a space and the filename before type enter. Ffplay can also play sound files including mp3 format.

ffplay filename
ffplay filename
ffplay example
ffplay example

How to loop a video for free without watermarks?

We can loop a base video file a designated number of times to one output file.

For example, we have a file with the name ShortMP4.mp4 of 31 seconds long and we want to loop it 2 times to make it about one and half minutes long. More information can be found here.

ffmpeg -stream_loop 3 -i input.mp4 -c copy output.mp4

Desktop $ffmpeg -stream_loop 2 -i ShortMP4.mp4 -c copy Loop2.mp4
Running ffmpeg loop example
Running ffmpeg loop example

Again, we can test view the video with ‘ffplay Loop2.mp4’ from the command line.

How long does ffmpeg take to loop the video?

This may depend on the file size. But for this file of about 3.1MB, it takes about some seconds or less.

How to compress a video for free without watermarks?

Let us use an MP4 file for example. Open the terminal, type in the following line with the changes, and enter.

How to compress an MP4 file with ffmpeg?

$ffmpeg -i IN.mp4 -c:v libx265 -c:a copy -x265-params crf=25 OUT.mp4 

$ffmpeg -i Flowers.mp4 -c:v libx265 -c:a copy -x265-params crf=25 ProcessedWithSound.mp4 
Showing file size before ffmpeg conversion
Running ffmpeg to compress MP4 with sound
Running ffmpeg to compress MP4 with sound
ffmpeg compressed MP4 file size with sound
ffmpeg compressed MP4 file size with sound

That is a whopping huge 89.74% savings in compression!

Below is the uploaded YouTube video of the ffmpeg compressed sound video file. You may compare it with the uncompressed YouTube version here.

ffmpeg -i INPUT -c:v libx265 -c:a -x265-params crf=25 OUT.mp4

To compress into a soundless file:

ffmpeg -i INPUT -c:v libx265 -an -x265-params crf=25 OUT.mp4
Showing file size before ffmpeg conversion
Running ffmpeg
Running ffmpeg
Showing ffmpeg output file size
Showing ffmpeg output file size

The compression is an impressive 92.31%, from 78MB to 6MB!

How to compress and convert a video with Handbrake – free GUI (graphical user interface) software?

I read that Handbrake uses Ffmpeg behind the scene. Thanks to the author of HandBrake, a free cross-platform open-source transcoder software that can help to convert and compress large video sizes to much smaller ones. For example, I compressed quite a number of large videos of about 64GB to about 12 to 16 GB which works out to be around a 78% reduction!

Handbrake website
Handbrake website

The compression settings I use also convert from the mov to mp4 file formats. It looks complicated but fears not, there is not much to set for each compression. How long may Handbrake convert or compress a video? That obviously will also depend on how big is the file. For example, a 64GB source file may take about 6-8 hours to process. Once done, there will be a faint tick sound, and the percentage progress display will be gone.

Simple steps for Handbrake video compression and conversion:

  1. Launch Handbrake and select the video for compression
  2. Use the default preset – Fast 1080p30
  3. Under the summary tab, enable Web Optimized (optional)
  4. Under the video tab, adjust RF to 25 (optional)
  5. Change the directory and the new filename to save as at the bottom
  6. Click Start above to start processing and wait to finish with the percentage progress displayed
HandBrake Web Optimized
HandBrake Web Optimized

Note: If you are using Handbrake numerous times, it can be worth it to Save New Preset, and select it from the Preset dropdown every time.

Video RF 25
Video RF 25
Save location and filename at the bottom
Save location and filename at the bottom
Click Start to process
Click Start to process

Bonus: How to combine an image with an audio file with ffmpeg?

There may be situations when we simply want an image joined with an audio file for the whole duration as one video file. This can be done with the command line with ffmpeg as well.

ffmpeg -loop 1 -i image.jpg -i audio.mp3 -c:v libx264 -tune stillimage -c:a aac -b:a 96k -pix_fmt yuv420p -shortest out.mp4

The above command will create the video file with an audio bitrate of 96kbps. I found and modified the above command from here.


Converting, looping, and compressing video files may seem mundane or insignificant, but it can matter in terms of saving time, energy, and bandwidth. FFmpeg is a free and powerful solution for this and more.

FFmpeg is a complex program but anyone with basic knowledge of the command line should be able to perform the basic ffmpeg commands outlined in this post.

Converting from one media to another can save about a third in file size in an example test. However, it is the compression test in the same MP4 formats that is surprising with over 90% size savings.

Looping a video can be essential in some cases, for example, in some YouTube niches.

Handbrake can be a convenient free tool to help convert and compress videos.

Be wholesome.

More Information

Why choose MP4 and H.265 for YouTube video format?

In addition to MP4, H.265, please take note to use the same recording frame rate for the export frame rate. More information can be found below.

How large is ffmpeg?

Not large at all. For example, it is only about 23.2MB for a Mac zip download.

How to convert aac or wav files to mp3 format with ffmpeg?

Ffmpeg can also convert between different sound formats. For example below is an example of converting from aac to mp3 format.

ffmpeg -i input.aac -acodec libmp3lame output.mp3

Another option is to convert with more options e.g. converting to a 96kbps audio bitrate that may result in a smaller file size.

ffmpeg -i input.wav -vn -ar 44100 -ac 2 -b:a 96k output.mp3

You may read more about it here.

Are there any basic Mac terminal commands tutorials for beginners?

If you are new to Mac command lines, you may want to watch the below or any related videos there. Windows and Linux commands can be the same or similar as well.

You may find these commands helpful as well:

ls -hl will display the files’ sizes in the human-readable format in the current directory.

open . will launch the file explorer graphical window for the current directory so we can do more.

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