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January 10, 2022

Video Bitrates and Storage Space: The Only Guide You Need

Understanding how to calculate storage space required from bitrate can only affect your workflow in a positive way, as a filmmaker, or editor, it’s imperative that you understand how to calculate storage space. Let’s discuss in detail what a bitrate is and how to use it to calculate file sizes.

There will come a time when you are shooting with a new camera, and you need to know how long your memory card will last. It’s simple, and all you need to know is the bitrate of the camera’s codec and a fairly simple formula.

To make it easy, there are video file size calculators out there, but unfortunately, they don’t include every codec, and manually calculating filesize is a simple task.

Many are intimidated by all of the numbers involved in calculating video bitrates and file size, it’s really not that hard. Let’s get started.

bits versus Bytes

Here is the most important thing about calculating bitrates: bits vs Bytes. The concept is simple: 8 bits = One Byte.


It’s important to note the naming convention is to  use a lowercase b for bits and an uppercase B for bytes. If you need to convert bits to Bytes, you divide by 8. For example 800 Mb‘s = 100 MB‘s. The Formula is (800 / 8 = 100).

To convert the other way, MB‘s to Mb‘s multiply by 8. For example 800 MB‘s = 6400 Mb‘s. The formula is (800 * 8 = 6400).

When someone tells you about video bitrates, they usually give you that number in megabits per second (Mbps or Mb/s). If that is the case, it’s usually easier to convert Mb/sec to MB/sec so you will work with a smaller number. It’s paramount to know if you are working with Mb‘s or MB‘s to alleviate any error.

A video bitrate is the amount of data that are conveyed or processed per unit of time. In other words, it’s the amount of information per second.

Example Scenario

For example, let’s say we want to shoot 2 hours of footage (120 minutes) on the Epic Dragon @ 6K full format @ 24p / 8:1 which yields 89 MB/sec, we want to know how much storage space we need.

Now we need to multiply MB/sec (megabytes per second) with time [120 minutes], but we need that in terms of minutes, not seconds. So, let’s convert from  MB/sec to MB/minute [MB/s to MB/m] (megabytes per minute).

89 MB/sec * 60 = 5340 MB/minute. We need to multiply by 60 because there are 60 seconds in one [1] minute.

Now we have MB/minute, let’s calculate the total minutes [120]. All we do is multiply by the number of minutes we have. We shot for 2 hours, so that’s 120 minutes.

5340MB * 120 [min] = 640,800 MB total sapvce required.

Conversion to gigabytes

Ok, we have our result, but the number is HUGE. It would be easier to talk in numbers of gigabytes, not megabytes, so let’s convert to gigabytes. Simply take 640,800 and divide by 1000. (640,800 MB / 1000 = 640.8 GB)

That is it! – now we know that we need 640.8 GB‘s of space to shoot 2 hours on the Epic Dragon!

Let’s Talk!

We know you are busy running your film production. For writers and directors, having an editor greatly saves you time and gives you a better perspective on your film. The Film Cut also knows that editing is very time-consuming. The Future of film is yours to shape. Your film, our mission. That’s why we take pride in helping you. The Film Cut is here to effortlessly manage your post-production needs, all in one place. So what are you waiting for? Contact Us today, we’d love to hear about your new film.


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