This article was written by the team behind One Inch Punch Pro, a Toronto based video production company with experience creating corporate videos, music videos, short films, reality television and more. We are pleased to publish this exclusive article here, and thank them for sharing this useful information for people in video production to learn and benefit from.
At one time making movies was simple because there weren’t a lot of format choices beyond 8mm and Super 8. No longer are we in the age of one format fits all. There are now many video formats to choose from (.wmv, .asf, .mov, .mpeg). Despite confusion that might arise from so many formats, a major advantage to videographers is that now quality footage is possible even from pocket devices. The following information examines video format, video production, and other factors that affect a video presentation.
Factors for Deciding a Video Format, Video Production
- intended audience
- whether or not the video will be seen online
- internet connection speed
- type of available video playback
- online video trends
- whether or not the video is embedded in an application
Once you know what you would like to do with your video, you’ll need to pick an appropriate format. Here are some of the more common file formats and what they offer.
Containers vs. Codecs
One of the first things you need to be clear about when it comes to digital video formats is the difference between containers and codecs. The container is the file. The codec is what determines how the content of the file is displayed, which may include compression. Codecs also encode the video and turn it into a stream of bytes. A video’s file extension relates to the container. One of the confusing things about containers and codecs is that they go in and out of style in the tech world.
Before deciding on a video format, video production and how it will be delivered should be considerations that point to a certain codec. The MP4 container with an H.264 codec is widely supported by sites that allow the public to upload videos. If your video is meant to be viewed on a mobile device then choose a codec that works with the OS.
The advantage to compressing video is that more video can take up less storage space. Some video data gets lost when a video file is compressed. Video compression software is based on displaying redundancies within a frame. A lot of the compression work can be done with DVD burning software. Usually when saving video in a software program you will be given the option to save the video in a certain quality. The higher quality will always be the most uncompressed. It is necessary to compress files in order to share them, especially online. When deciding on video format, video production and video presentation, remember that compression will have a big affect on appearance.
The aspect ratio is the dimension of the image, which is commonly 16:9, meaning a width of 16 and a height of 9. This dimension has been the universal standard for video and computer screens since 2009. Super 16 mm film has a similar aspect ratio. Other aspect ratios are used but are not as common as 16:9.
Audio Video Interleave (.avi) Container
AVI files were developed by Microsoft, originally for Windows 3.1 back in the 1990s. In recent years Windows users have switched to Windows Media Video. One of the disadvantages of the AVI format is that it does not allow for specification of the aspect ratio.
Advanced Systems Format (.asf) Container
ASF is a proprietary container developed by Microsoft that usually ends with the extension .wmv. It can be used for integrating Digital Rights Management (DRM).
Advanced Video Coding, High Compression (AVCHD) Container
AVCHD is a popular container used with digital camcorders. It is a joint effort by Sony and Panasonic. The file format is meant for storage as well as playback. The format supports standard definition, high definition and 3D.
Flash Video (.flv, .swf) Container
Flash video is delivered across the Internet through the Adobe Flash Player, which is what displays YouTube videos. Newer Flash videos use the H.264 codec. One major drawback with Flash is that it is not supported by iOS devices. Steve Jobs believed in looking pass the streaming problems of Flash and rely on better HTML 5 development to resolve streaming issues. Flash is otherwise a very popular container for streaming online videos.
QuickTime (.mov, .qt) Container
QuickTime is the proprietary video software playback system developed by Apple. It supports a wide scope of codecs as determined by Apple. It’s a popular video player that comes with Mac OS systems. Higher quality features can be accessed through a license with Apple. The iMac desktop comes loaded with iMovie, which is a basic version of Final Cut Pro, issuing .MOV and .MP4 containers.
Windows Media Video (.wmv) Codec
The WMV format supports high definition 720 and 1080 video. The way the format conserves space is that it only downloads a part of the video at a time. This feature has eliminated the need to wait for a video to completely download to watch it. There is often confusion between Windows and Mac software and what nuances are involved to make the software work properly.
This codec is used to compress a lot of video on the web. It can be used at very low and very high bit rates. It is commonly used with camcorders with the AVCHD container. Other common codecs include MPEG 1, 2 and 4, HDTV and DVD.
Video can be converted from one format to another by using a tool such as a Kigo format converter, which works for both Mac and Windows devices. When converting a video format, video production degradation may occur. It’s a good idea to preserve the originals in a DVD format.
Whatever format and technology you use for your video projects, make sure that they will empower you and your team to achieve the project’s core production goals.