Video File Formats: Everything You Need To Know

Video File Formats: Everything You Need To Know
Written by prodigitalweb

Even if you have no experience in video encoding or production, you may still have heard about different video formats and that by the file extension, you can easily identify its format. But are the available video formats today? What makes them different? And how to choose a media format that suits your needs best? Keep reading this post to know all the answers.

Top Popular Video Formats

It may happen that some videos do not load on pc? The reasons can be different. It may be associated with the specs of drivers and codecs, or due to the fact that the video player installed on the PC does not support the video format. Surprisingly, users encounter the latter problem most often. However, it is not so difficult to solve it. You just need to download a video converter for free and assign a new extension to the video. There are several video recording formats that you can choose from.

A couple of years ago, there were only three container formats adopted as the main ones: AVI, MOV, and MPG. Most of the videos were encoded with them. The situation has changed completely, and there are tens of formats at your disposal. So let’s dwell on each one in more detail so that you can pick the best one for your home videos, blog video content, or multimedia to ensure effective online communication with your audience.

#1 – AVI

It is a long-lived format developed by Microsoft. AVI appeared in 1992 and still does not lose its popularity. The best thing about the AVI container is that it can contain video encoded with any codec. There can be multiple audio tracks, but some players can only play the default track. A huge advantage of  AVI files is that they can be played by most devices, including hardware DVD players.

#2 – MPG

It is just a perfect-match format for storing video files that are not compressed during encoding. MPG is quite flexible and allows you to play any video as the format supports the following standards:

  • MPEG1 – it is rarely used today. The standard has been developed taking into account the optimization for 2-speed CD drives, which are no longer in use;
  • MPEG2 – it is designed for broadcast TV. It is in this standard that films are recorded on DVD;
  • MPEG3 – it was originally used for HDTV. MPEG3 was subsequently merged with MPEG2 and is an advanced version of its counterpart;
  • MPEG4 – it is used where the high-quality video is not required: in various mobile gadgets, the Internet, etc.

#3 – MOV

It is the main competitor of AVI developed by Apple Corporation. The format supports very high resolution and absolutely any codecs. Additional software is required to play videos in the MOV format. It is no wonder that it is so widely used today.

#4 – VOB

This is an extension of the container covering several audio and video streams; it is also where a couple of subtitles and menus can be collected at once. As a rule, VOB is used when converting video to play on a DVD.

#5 – 3GP

It is the so-called “third-gen” video format developed specifically for mobile phones. Movies recorded in this format have poor picture quality. However, the small size compensates for this disadvantage. In addition, 3gp videos are pretty fine to watch on small phone displays.

Is That All?

These are the main video file formats that have been set as the standard. However, some of them are gradually fading into the background, giving way to more modern solutions. These common video codecs and containers are just the tip of the iceberg. For example, DVDs use MPEG-2, but nowadays, it is rarely used beyond the regular DVDs you would buy in a store. There are also professional video formats (such as ProRes RAW) and common formats sold on the Internet (such as MKV).

It would take an entire book to cover them all. However, the technology is being standardized towards H.264 and H.265. So if you ever shoot a video, any of these are probably a win-win option. At the moment, H.264 is the safest bet of all!

How to Choose the Best Video File Format

There are no the worst or best video file formats. Choosing the right video file format largely depends on what you plan to use the video for. You should choose a format that provides the required video quality, but there are some other things to consider as well. Overly high-quality video files can be inconvenient to move, share, convert, and manage. Besides that, you should also think about how the video files will be viewed as not all programs, browsers, and devices can open a certain video format.

There is where you need to consider a couple of scenarios. If the video is viewed on the Internet, select a format that is supported by most browsers. This way, your multimedia file can be played without being downloaded and using a separate player. If you are archiving home videos, choose a format that is of high quality and has a good chance of being played back in the future. Open-source formats are more future-oriented than their proprietary counterparts that are controlled by a particular company.

In case you pick the wrong format and cannot play a video, you can always resort to a special program to convert video. Thus, you can process absolutely any video and get a file that you can easily access and play. All you need to know is how to convert videos.

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