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Teaching Remotely During A Disruption

Navigating Moodle's File Size Limit

Our current 100 MB file size limit in Moodle is a necessary step in ensuring the accessibility and longevity of our learning management system, but it will often mean editing and compressing video files prior to adding them to your course. Here, we have collected strategies for keeping or converting video clips to under 100 megabytes. Please keep in mind that video files by nature are very large in size, and that this is not an exact science. Please expect to spend some time experimenting; finding your best solution may require some trial and error.

Keeping It Brief

Where possible, plan in advance to either record a shorter video, or to make a series of clips. (This is often the better pedagogical goal in any case; your learners’ attention is likely to wane after viewing five minutes of video content.) While the file sizes that Zoom makes are variable, depending on what happens on the screen, shorter is almost always better, and the most basic way to keep files under the 100MB limit is to limit your recording time per file to well under ten minutes. Those files can be uploaded to Moodle directly, with no need for further compression.

Create Clips As You Go

When in a Zoom call, each time that you turn on the recording feature, and then turn it off again, Zoom will create a separate video recording. One way to minimize file size, therefore, is to turn the recording tool on and off as you go. This can be a challenge if running a live session. Consider asking a trustworthy participant in the meeting to do this for you, and turn on the ability for that participant to record the meeting.

Managing Larger Or Longer Recordings

If you are recording a full course session or a lengthy lecture, there two ways to keep the file size under Moodle’s 100MB limit: you can edit a single long file into a series of one or more clips, or you can compress that full file, keeping it as one file but degrading the image quality.  We’ll discuss each of these in turn below. Fortunately, Mac and Windows 10 users both have access to free built-in tools for basic video editing.

Creating Clips On A Mac

  1. Open Quicktime.
  2. Open the original MP4 file that Zoom created.
  3. Navigate to File → Duplicate to make a copy of the file.
  4. Edit the copy down to ten minutes or less. With the copy file open, go to Edit → Trim.
  5. This will bring up a yellow box at the bottom of the window that you can pull from either side to mark the beginning and end of your clip. When you have selected a clip of ten minutes or less, click the Trim button.
  6. Close the copy by clicking on the red circle in the top left corner. You will see the option to rename and save this newly trimmed clip.
  7. Double-check the file size of the new clip to make sure it is under 100MB in size. If it is over that limit, you will either have to compress it using the instructions below, or repeat the process and further trim the video in Quicktime.
  8. Repeat this process to make additional clips as needed.

Creating Clips On A Windows 10 PC

  1. Locate the video file. Right-click on the file and choose Open With-->Photos.
  2. Select the Create button, in the upper-right portion of the window, to see a drop-down menu. Choose Trim
  3. Slide the two white sliders to set the beginning and end of a clip. The colored slider only shows the current frame; it will not have any bearing on the trimming process. 
  4. When you have selected a clip of ten minutes or less, click the Save a copy option, located in the upper-right portion of the window.
  5. Give the video file a new name. Once saved, it will be the new, trimmed video clip. The original file will remain unaltered. 
  6. Double-check the file size of the new clip to make sure it is under 100MB in size. If it is over that limit, you will either have to compress it using the instructions below, or repeat the process and further trim the video in Photos.
  7. Repeat this process to create additional clips as needed.

Video Compression With Handbrake

When Zoom generates a meeting recording, the software already compresses it quite a bit.  A video of about 1 hour will be somewhere in the 300MB range in size. The actual size can vary, however, due to a number of factors, including the device on which it was recorded, or what was happening during the meeting. For example, lots of video conversation back and forth between multiple users, such as during a seminar discussion, will generate a larger file than a shared screen of a static image, such as during a virtual lecture. 

To reduce Zoom meeting recordings down to under 100MB, you can further compress the file using a free software title called Handbrake. Once you have Handbrake successfully installed on your machine, here are the steps you would take to further compress your recording.

  1. Click Open Source to identify the video you want to compress.
  2. Modify the compression settings by clicking the Video tab. 
  3. Locate the Average Bitrate (kbps) text box and add a value of 100kbps if you have up to an hour's worth of footage.

    Consider duration: Videos over an hour may need to be trimmed or split, as the quality begins to degrade significantly when dropping KBPS below 100. Please refer to our instructions above if you are attempting to further compress videos greater than 1 hour in length.
    A note on quality: If you are starting with a video of 30 minutes or less, you may be able to bring that KBPS up slightly, and still retain a file size of under 100MB. This will take some trial and error. 
  4. Rename the new version in the Save As box, so that you don’t overwrite your original copy. 
  5. Press the Browse button to define where you want to save the new compressed video copy. 

Help with Zoom

Need help getting ready to use Zoom? While most users find it relatively intuitive, a variety of support options are available. These include:

  • Videos and Articles from Zoom Support
  • Live Training Webinars (including some specifically for educators)
  • LinkedIn Learning course, "Learning Zoom."
  • If the College implements a campus-wide social distancing policy during the academic year, limited live remote help will be available weekdays, as long as LITS staff are able to connect from campus or their own remote locations. More information about this support will be made available to all instructors as needed.
  • E-mail the LITS Zoom Team.
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