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How much do you know about video formats? More importantly how much do you actually need to know about them?

Make no mistake video formats are important, but you don’t need to delve into the technical details. Instead, what you need to know is what video formats do – and how they affect your videos.

Video Format: Container and Codec

The first thing you need to know is that video formats are made up of two distinct parts: A container, and a video codec.

Essentially the video codec is used to organize and arrange the data that makes up the video and compresses it to make it consume less space. In contrast, it is best to think of the container as the wrapping that holds together the components that make up the video, including the video data and video codec.

The video format is basically the pairing of a container and a codec, but different containers support different ranges of video codecs – which will affect your options.

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Factors Affected By the Video Format

The video format itself plays an important part and affects several factors related to the video:

  • Compatibility

Some devices and platforms are only compatible with a certain range of video formats. If a video is incompatible, it may not be able to be played or may not display properly.

  • Hardware support

The hardware support for video codecs can vary as well. Without hardware support, a video may be able to be played, but it will require more processing power.

  • Compression

In most cases, newer codecs generally provide better compression rates, and are able to store the same video quality at significantly smaller file sizes. For example, H.265 can reduce the file size of a H.264 video by up to half its original size.

  • Features

Containers have different features in terms of what components they support. Some of the more commonly-used features include support for captions, menus, chapters, streaming, and metadata.

Considering the impact the video format can have on each of these factors is important in order to decide on which format you should be using.

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Popular Video Formats

As you may have noticed some video formats are much more popular than others – and normally for good reason. Because of that, it is a good idea to know about them:

  • MP4 with H.264 is the most popular video format right now, and it is widely used for video distribution. It is supported by most devices and platforms and is the recommended format for the majority of online platforms and social media websites.
  • MP4 or MKV with H.265 is the successor to H.264, but its adoption has been slow and it does not enjoy widespread support. As such its use is generally limited to situations where you’re sure the device or platform you’re using does support it.
  • MPEG-2 is a very old format, but still fairly popular because it is used to encode videos for DVDs. Although some new DVD players support other formats, the majority do not.

Final Words

Based on everything you know about video formats now, you should be able to select a video format. If you want to convert your videos there are several ways you could do so, and for example, you could use Movavi Video Converter to convert MOV to MP4 online.

Keep in mind that some of the popular formats listed above may be supplanted by others in time – as they have been in the past. That being said you now know enough about video formats that you should be able to evaluate new formats based on their merits.

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Meher Sethi

The author Meher Sethi

A poetess and an inquisitive soul, Meher is currently finishing her graduation in fashion media communication besides working in the industry as she explores her likings.

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