September 27, 2018
Video Formats: A Quick Guide to Understand Them Better
Trying to understand video formats can be a bit tricky, especially since most people have the wrong idea about them in the first place. To clarify the extensions that you see in video files (i.e. MOV, AVI, MKV, and MP4) are just one part of the video format – known as the container.
The actual video format consists of another part as well, known as the codec. Both the container and codec have a part to play in the video format – and it is important that you understand their roles.
Think of a container as a wrapping that is used to hold together the various parts that make up a video. Typically two of the parts in modern videos are the video data and the audio data, but there may be other parts as well such as data regarding captions, menus, and so on.
Because it needs to contain all these various types of data, the container is also what determines the features that the format supports. Some containers support a wide range of features, while others are much more limited.
It should be noted that some containers are only able to contain video or audio data that is stored in specific codecs.
In contrast to containers, video codecs are the part of the format used to organize the video data. It basically processes the video and stores it digitally by using algorithms to shrink its size by arranging it more efficiently and (in some cases) discarding data that is deemed ‘unnecessary’.That is why video codecs determine the compression that is used by the video format. If data is discarded then the compression is ‘lossy’ and will be able to reduce the file size of the video more. However if no data is discarded the compression is ‘lossless’ – but will normally have a larger file size.
The video codec is responsible for both encoding and decoding the video, i.e. it compresses it for storage and then reconstructs the video and displays it when it needs to be viewed. Modern containers store video codecs internally, but there may still be compatibility issues at times.
How it Fits Together
Now that you’re aware of how containers and codecs work – you may be starting to appreciate how they fit together. To put it simply the ‘format’ consists of a pairing of both – and you should select it based on:
* Compatibility with the device or platform you want to view the video on, as well as between the container and codec you want to use.
* Compression that the codec is able to provide in order to reduce the file size of the video.
* Features that the container supports, to ensure that you’re able to store all the data that may be required.
It is important that you consider these three factors when deciding on a container, codec, and ultimately video format. In some cases the converter you’re using may have presets that simplify the options somewhat, as is the case with Movavi Video Converter (http://www.movavi.com/videoconverter/) for example.
By this point you should understand video formats a whole lot better – which is good. The better your understanding of video formats, the better you’ll be able to figure out which one you should be using if and when you need to. Video Formats: A Quick Guide to Understand Them Better