4 Most Common Video File Formats Explained

To say that video formats have gone through major changes and have evolved ever since would definitely not be an overstatement. Video files usually come in a variety of formats, each of which has its own use. It is also true that a specific video format is right for a certain video, but this in no way necessitates that the same format will be right for all video types.

Before we start explaining the 4 most common video file formats, one must know that any video, which is present in digital format comprises two parts, i.e. codec and a container. The former is used primarily for the purpose of compressing and decompressing the video files. This comes in handy as there are files which are large in size and they need to be compressed. The latter is a collection of files which is tasked with storing the information about the digital file. This depicts the combination of both audio and video data in a single file, which in turn allows audio with video playback.

Now that we have discussed the video structure in detail, let us now discuss 4 most popular video file formats.

1. AVI:

Also commonly known as audio video Interleave, this video format was developed by Microsoft corporation and was made public in November 1992 as a feature for its new windows technology. Having said that, AVI format is arguably one of the oldest formats of video files which are still in use today. Aside from this, this video format is considered as de facto standard when it comes to storing audio and video information on the computer. Also, the AVI format features a simple architecture which makes it possible for the format to run on different systems such as Macintosh, windows, linux etc. Also, AVI files store date by encoding it, which can later on be decoded. The information is usually encoded in different codecs such as M-JPEG or DivX codecs. This also indicates that contrary to the popular belief, AVU files do look the same on the outside, but they are very much different on the inside.

2. MP4:

Also commonly known as Moving Pictures Expert Group 4, this format is a standard one which was developed by Motion Pictures Expert Group. In all fairness, the credit of setting industry standards concerning audio and video goes to Moving Pictures Expert Group. The format is often used for sharing video files on the internet. The format was first introduced in 1998. That said, the format is unique, given that it utilizes separate compression for audio and video tracks. Aside from this, the former is compressed using AAC compression whereas the later is compressed using MPEG 4 or H.264. Aside from this, this video format also constitutes as a great format for sharing content on the internet. Aside from this, the size of these mp4 files is small when compared to other formats. What makes it more unique from other formats is the fact that irrespective of its size, the quality does not get compromised. Also, given the fact that it is compatible with html5, online browsers, mobile browsers, it is getting popular among the users every passing day.

3. MOV:

This video format, which is also commonly known as Apple QuickTime Movie, is one of the most popular video sharing and viewing formats when it comes to iOS users. MOV format went through major changes and a modified version of this format was released by Apple in the recent years by the name of QuickTime X. The newer format is available on various operating systems such as Lion, mountain lion and MacOS X snow leopard. To put things into perspective, one must know that when it comes to Macintosh, MOV files are usually opened in Apple QuickTime. That being said, it is also true that these MOV files are not confined to being played on Mac OS. A free version of QuickTime player is also available for many other players including windows operating systems. That all being said, MOV file format is considered as one of the best formats for video files, given the fact that all of the MOV files are higher in quality.

4. WMV:

Commonly known as windows media video, this video storage format was also developed by Microsoft. The video format was primarily designed for online streaming applications in order to counter other streaming service providers. WMV has an edge when it comes to streaming directly on the web. This is because WMV files are some of the smallest video files you would come across on the internet. This is because their original size decreases up to a great extent once the file is compressed. Compression does have a downside attached to it as well. Due to excessive compression, video quality at times gets compromised, which eventually results in substandard video quality.

Compression of video files has its own perks too. In the case of WMV, it is arguably the only video file format which allows its users to cross share videos via emails. Also, due to the fact that it is a Microsoft software, windows media player acts as default application tasked to play WMV files.

Do Formats Matter?

By now, you might wonder, do video formats matter at all? Well, in all fairness, there are a variety of reasons which indicate the importance of video formats. For instance, if you are aware of the format the camera shoots in, you can save a lot of space as you will already have an idea regarding the format and its space constraints. Similarly, prior knowledge of formats also assists you in the editing process.

 Proper understanding of video formats is essential when it comes to videography. Besides, correct knowledge of video formats can also save you from potential inconveniences such as data loss, compatibility issues etc.

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