Video Formats Guide

Published on by Chris King

A Guide to Understanding Video Format, Containers & Codecs

I. What is a Video Format?

Video formats involve two distinct, and very different technology
concepts: containers(sometimes called wrappers) & codecs(short for coder/decoder).
Codecs are used inside of a container and because of this video formats can be confusing.

A. What is a Container?

The container describes the structure of the file: where the various pieces are stored,
how they are interleaved, and which codecs are used by which pieces. It may specify
an audio codec as well as video. It is used to package the video& its components
(audio/metadata) and is identified (usually) by a file extension such as .AVI, .MP4 or .MOV.

B. What is a codec?

A codec(short for "coder/decoder") is a way of encoding audio or video into a stream of bytes. It is the method used to encode the video and is the chiefdeterminer of quality.

C. How do they work together?

Think of the container as the file itself. Think of the codec as its contents. The important thing to realize is that most good container formats can hold may codecs. For Example a .MOV container can hold almost any kind of codec data. The same goes for .MP4 and even .AVI files can hold a wide variety of codecs as their contents. In no way does the container decide the quality or features of the video itself., that is up to the codec. The proper way to describe video is to indicate both: A .MOV files containing H.264 data. An .AVI file containing DivX data. Professionals use shorthand's for this, saying things like "Give me an H.264 Quicktime file(.mov)".

II. What Video Format Should I Use?

File Size & quality

1.Digital Storage Space- To calculate the amount of storage space you will need for a project, digital video requires approximately 200MB per minute of footage, or roughly 12 GB per hour: Of course this varies according to your recording device and the quality it is set to record at.

2. Frames per Second- The standard for FPS is 29.97, increasing the FPS allows for more images per second thus a smoother image. Decreasing FPS will make the video a bit choppy and not nearly as smooth.

3. Video Bitrate- Bitrate is a measurement of the number of bits that are transmitted over a set length of time. Your overall bitrate is a combination of your video stream, audio stream & metadata in your file with the majority coming from our video stream. The higher the bit rate the better the quality the bigger it will be.

4. Resolution- this is the number of pixels present in the images of the video. This determines whether your video is standard definition or high definition. The higher the resolution the clearer the image the bigger the file.

III. Video Help: How do I get videos to play on computer?

It is nearly impossible to get it to play on every computer b/c it all depends on the viewer and what type of decoder their computer may have. Mac and Windows are notorious for having their own containers/codecs and viewers have difficulty watching it on there respective choice of hardware. To play Windows Media Files(WMV) on Macs you need to install Flip for Mac and to play a PC, VLC(also available for Mac) is a free video player that plays almost every kind of video codec. You may also have to download other decoders to play different video format s on a Windows Media Player.

If you don't want to takes risks to install a pile of codec package on your computer, an alternative way to play kinds of video files on your Windows & Mac is to convert videos with a video converter app.

To convert different kinds of files, an excellent video converter is needed. Among various video converting tools, Brorsoft Video Converter (Available for Windows and Mac users) is rating in the first place. This converter can convert a wide range of formats, like AVI, MKV, VOB, WMV, MOV, MP4, 3GP, MXF, FLV, MTS, 3GP, MPG and the list goes on. Apart from that, it also provides a large variety of output formats that compatible with iPad, iPhone, iPod, PSP, Xbox, Samsung Galaxy, LG, Blackberry, Sony, Nokia and more. HD and 3D output are also supported. This video converter also built with a media player, which lets you play and watch video files without any hassles. In a word, Brorsoft Video converter is an all-round solution for you to handle your videos.

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