Digital video signals are adaptively compressed for communication to a receiver. A plurality of block-matching motion compensators, each using a different block size, compare current video image data to prior video image data. Video image data output from the motion compensators is compressed, and the compressed data from each motion compensator is compared to find which motion compensator results in the least amount of compressed data for a region of a current video image corresponding to the smallest of the block sizes. The compressed data having the lowest bit count is transmitted to a receiver for recovery of a motion vector. The recovered motion vector is used to recover current video image data from the transmitted data and previously received video image data.