There are plenty of different video formats available. These formats have been around for quite some time now, and it is not like a very new invention of some kind.
Different video formats have different use cases, and most people are not aware of the different video formats that they see their videos on.
With this article, you will have the knowledge of some of the more popular video formats which are available and how you can choose the format for any video that you like.
What are video formats and codecs?
First of all, let’s discuss what exactly are video formats and codecs. You will find many different types of video formats available; this is because videos are usually huge in size.
There is a lot of data that is available on a particular RAW video, and sharing these files usually used to take a lot of time. So, to tackle this issue, many different programmers made many different types of formats.
These formats, a.k.a codecs, allow the overall compression and decompression of the video so that they are easily available to store and share.
Each format has its different set of properties, and I will discuss all about them in the article moving forward.
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What are containers?
Containers are similar to what their name is. A container is a sort of like a code that packs the overall codec so that it is easily transferable from one computing device to the other.
That is the overall purpose of a container. While compressing or decompressing a video, there is a certain loss in the overall quality of the video as well; each format you choose has different levels of compression and decompression value to it.
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Types of video formats
Let’s now discuss some of the popular video formats that are available to use nowadays.
Supported by: Most devices, including Streaming and other modes of videos.
MP4 is by far the most common video format that you must have heard about as well. It is used on almost all the devices on which you can watch any form of video.
MP4 also has the ability to store other information, such as subtitles, audio files, etc., and because of this, it is widely known and used.
It also, however, has a lot of loss in terms of the overall quality of the video, as it compresses a lot of properties.
Supported by: QuickTime and other streaming modes.
MOV was developed by Apple for its QuickTime program. MOV doesn’t compress files as much as you something like MP4 does, which is good if you want more of a lossless video.
However, this also translates to a more heavy file format, as more data is preserved in the overall video.
This is a preferred option by video editors, as they are able to save a lot more of their information in this format, and you can use it for your videos.
Supported by: Windows Media Viewer.
WMV, as the name suggests, is a video format which was developed by Microsoft for its media player service Windows Media Player. WMV also stores a good amount of data for your video, just like MOV.
If you are using an Apple device, you can also view a WMV file, just as long as you have a Windows Media Player installed on your IOS or macOS device.
WMV was originally intended for streaming purposes as well, but a lot of people choose it for using it as a format for different BluRay and DVD products as well.
Supported by: Streaming sites and other modes of watching videos.
AVI stands for Audio Video Interleave. AVI was also developed by Microsoft for Windows so that people are able to watch video files on Windows devices.
AVI is able to store both audio and video in its containers, which allows it to play both audio and video simultaneously.
AVI files are usually big in size as they are storing a lot of data from both the audio and video files, and this can take up some space on your computing device.
Supported by: DVD players and more viewing devices.
AVCHD stands for Advanced Video Coding High Definition. The overall point of AVCHD was to promote higher-definition videos on viewing devices and modes like DVDs.
AVCHD videos are not fully lossless, and they compress the videos into smaller sizes so that it is easy to share the videos on a number of different devices.
At the same time, preserving enough data to promote and show High Definition videos to the viewers on their viewing devices.
FLV, F4V and SWF
Supported by: Adobe Flash
FLV, F4V and SWF files were all designed to be used for Adobe Flash, on which users were able to create many different animations and other web-related products.
However, Adobe Flash has now been shut down by Adobe because of other popular web-related codecs that are much more stable and convenient than Flash.
Adobe Flash could not be used on IOS devices as well, but sites like YouTube still use some FLV-type formats for their streaming to this day.
Supported by: Open-sourced video players like VLC, etc.
MKV is an open-sourced and a fairly recent video file format that was developed in Russia, and it is quite quickly taking a lot of people’s attention because of how many different types of codecs it supports.
Through MKV files, you are able to get a lot more customisation options in terms of menu and texts and audio files. You can even play a corrupted file on MKV.
However, not a lot of programs support MKV as of yet, for many reasons, but you can still view MKV files on open-sourced video players like VLC.
WEBM or HTML5
Supported by: All the websites that have some form of videos on them.
WEBM or HTML5 is the reason why Adobe Flash is no longer getting continued. WEBM files are usually small in size, making them perfect for any website to run on, as it doesn’t make the overall website heavy.
If you have seen a video floating on any website, chances are those videos were in a WEBM or HTML 5 format because these have become the go-to option for any web-embedded videos.
They are fast and quick, and at the same time, quite reliable as well.
Supported by: DVD and Broadcast TV.
MPEG-2 is a fairly old video format which is still used to burn on DVDs and broadcast on cable televisions.
MPEG-2 files save a lot of data and are pretty good for not losing a lot of quality, which is why it is still used, but the overall data stored on MPEG-2 files is a lot, making it quite heavy.
An average MP4 file is almost half the size of a MPEG-2 file, and it offers almost the same level of visual quality as MPEG-2 does.
Let’s now discuss some of the frequently asked questions regarding this topic.
Which video format has the best quality?
If you are looking for lossless videos and are accepting of the huge storage space you would need for such files, then going for options like WMV or MOV could be a good option for you.
These files require certain players to be read, such as Windows Media Player and QuickTime Player, but they store a good amount of data for your overall video without compromising too much of the video.
That being said, as I mentioned above, the overall size of the file would be quite big, so you need to make sure that you have enough storage and power on your device to store such files.
Which is better, MP4 or AVI?
I would go for MP4 in this department simply because MP4 is a widely popular video format that has the most commonly used codec, H.264.
MP4 files are able to store a lot of different data, from audio files to text, subtitles, etc. Since it is also used the most and is available everywhere, you are able to read an MP4 file on any device and on any program.
You don’t need a specific program that you have to download to use this software, it is pretty standard, and almost all viewing devices and streaming devices use this format.
Which video format is best for 4K videos?
4K videos can be formatted in many different types of formats. You have BluRay discs that use 4K resolution using different formats.
However, if you want to choose a specific option, then you can go with either MP4, AVCHD or even MKV file format to get the best result for your 4K videos.
All these file formats have the ability to read 4K resolution videos, and they are all used on various streaming sites such as YouTube, TV, etc.
These are all pretty common file formats, making them pretty reasonable for viewing on popular video programmes and devices.
Should I use MP4 or MKV?
MKV is a more powerful file format than MP4, as it is able to read many different types of codecs, and MKV files have also been noticed by a lot of people for their overall customization options.
However, there is no denying that the part that MP4 file format is much more widely used and well-known by many different programs.
MKV, on the other hand, is fairly new and not a lot of people use the program, even though the format is able to understand and read a lot of codecs.
So, it depends on you; what is your use case and what is the overall look and compression value you are looking for in your video?
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Well, there you have it. An article dedicated to all the different video file formats that are available these days.
Most of these file formats are pretty old and dated, but the overall use cases of most of these file formats are still relevant to this day.
We generally don’t recognize such formats, but the videos we usually see in our day-to-day lives are all encoded with such formats only.
They have been programmed a long time ago but are still going strong as videos have become more popular than ever, and this type of knowledge is most beneficial for any budding video editor.
If you are a budding video editor and are on a hunt for a type of video editing software that you can use, then I have written a separate article where I discussed some of the best video editing softwares you can use today.
As always, these have been my thoughts on the best video formats that are available today. What about you? Do you agree with my list? Whatever your thoughts are, do let us know about them in the comments down below!