I recently imported a few personal videos I had on VHS or video 8mm tapes using Roxio Easy VHStoDVD equipment and software onto a Mac.

But here's the thing: the files are in .mpg format, very large, and I am wondering how I could possibly reduce them.

The encoding containers are:

Video Format: MPEG-2 Video

Audio Format: MPEG Layer 2, 48000 Hz

I tried placing them in an After Effects or Premiere Pro timeline to export in a mp4/H.264 file, but neither AE nor PP would read the file properly.

I opened one of them with QuickTime, thinking the Export feature might work, but it was incredibly slow and would have taken me several weeks to get it all done.

I'm looking for a solution that can be quick (or even batched) and that would output a H.264 / mp4 file - ideally somewhere around 5-10 Mbps and deinterlaced.

When using Handbrake, the files coming out are sometimes larger than the original files, and Handbrake doesn't allow cropping black letterbox bars on the sides (not necessary but would be a plus).

2 Answers 2


If you're comfortable with the command-line, FFmpeg will do the job.

Since these are VHS rips, 5-10 mbps is way overkill when using the H.264 codec.

Suggested command:

ffmpeg -i rip.mpg -vf yadif,scale=iw*sar:ih,setsar=1 -crf 18 -c:a aac -b:a 128k rip.mp4

This will deinterlace the video, then convert it to a square pixel representation. Audio codec is AAC @ 128 kbps. Video bitrate control method is CRF, which strives to allocate bits as per content complexity i.e. tries to maintain uniform quality throughout. 18 is a good value for SD content. Lower values produce better quality (and larger files) but shouldn't be necessary here.

You can create a batch file to automate the conversions or use a GUI like Avanti, which has a job control manager.


There's lots of detail missing here, but your best solution might be a program like Handbrake, or if you're comfortable at the command line, ffmpeg. "Quick" is relative, but with Handbrake you can queue your files, or have it convert an entire directory unattended. I use it daily, often letting it run overnight.

You can google for the latest ffmpeg build for your platform (Windows? Mac? Linux?).

  • What details could I add? Let me know I will Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 14:11

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