Video Streaming is a key fundamental to a successful web presence. In the simplest sense, Video formats are a series of rapid images put together in a succession. However, as in most cases, streaming videos is a little bit more complicated than that. Of course, if every person in the world would view videos on the same size screen, using the same internet speed, using the same operating system, and finally the same computer hardware, then Video streaming, and websites as a whole would be a lot easier. But alas, as we all know, this is not the case. This is why you need a basic understanding of Video Formats.
In order to stream videos appropriately, there are some basic concepts we must first go over. Video formats are a video file in a digital form. There are three main parts:
- A container.
- A video player.
What Does Video Formats Consist of?
- Container – A container is a collection of files that stores information about the digital file. It simply means there is a combination of both audio and video data in a single file to allow for simultaneous picture sequences with timed audio. Even though a video is a combination of images (average of 30 pictures per second) and sound. It is condensed into one transfer file.
- Codec – A codec is a code that is used to compress and decompress a digital file. Even though we want good video quality, compression is necessary to maintain good speeds and to adjust for different equipment, screen sizes, and internet speeds. A good codec will compress the images and sound into a series of digital codes. The smaller sized file of code is downloaded. Then reconverted back into image and sound. Since an uncompressed 1-hour video is about 15 – 20GB of space, compression is necessary in order to view videos in a timely manner online.
- Video player – software that can interpret the container and the codec and put it all back together so that you can see it on your device or screen. Some most common video players are windows media player, VideoLAN, VLC, QuickTime, and even YouTube and Vimeo.
There are a lot more complex details we could go over and expand on. Literally, there are thousands of container, codec, and video player combinations that can make up video formats. Each one tailored to an operating system or device type and size.
For a web developer, the combination is called “Video format” or “Video file formats”. The most common video formats are:
Types of Video Formats – File extensions
- AVI – AVI files comply with a standard developed by Microsoft and are a very popular video file. They are the workhorse of all video file formats. It adjusts well for the many different screen types. Picture quality is very good as there is less compression on these files. The quality can afford you a lot slower load times because of the much larger file size. There are limits to aspect ratios and some features that you may find on other video formats.
- MOV – Apple’s version that is mostly used on Apple devices. This file format is limited. So that Apple knows the file works on their devices. File sizes are a little bit smaller due to tighter compression rules as set by apple, but the quality is almost the same or in some cases equal to AVI
Types of Video Formats – File extensions (continued)
- WMV – Windows precursor to AVI. This video file format is one of the grandfathers of the digital media world. The past had much slower internet speeds. This format is very highly compressed. Smaller files = poor image quality.
- FLV – Flash Video Format was created by Adobe. Also simply known as flash. Arguably Adobe has been the most aggressive in recent years. Striving to capture as much of the image and video share as possible. Adobe is also the owner of Photoshop, PDF, After effects, Premiere, and much other vital software’s for the Graphic and video world. Their goal:
- Simplifying the video process
- To work on every device,
- Flash has developed a somewhat poor reputation. Too aggressive were they to own the market share. They failed to work out issues before the release date. Though they have worked out the kinks with many devices, they still run into the greatest number of issues
Types of Video Formats – File extensions (In Conclusion)
- AVCHD – Advanced Video Coding, High Definition – a result of a Panasonic and Sony collaboration as a video file format for digital camcorders. Rarely used in any type of digital or internet transfer as there is little or no compression. This format is mostly used to make the movies but not for any type of streaming.
- MPEG – MP4. – H.264… and on and on. They all come from the same basic MPEG developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG)– This is an ever-evolving and very active format that is constantly trying to get the most compression without losing quality. Currently, the H.264 software version is the most powerful format. Used by YouTube, Vimeo, Netflix, and hundreds of other online web-based video sources. They do not really dive into the online gaming world. At its beginning stages, MPEG had a lot of faults. The current H.264 though runs clean and smooth on almost every device.
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