Do you often see a lovely shot in a travel video on Youtube and wish you could create something that good? Do you ever look at the content of an Instagrammer and want to post something equally attractive?

If so, then you need to know that there is a basic science behind video creation. In this post, we will guide you through the best video formats to use for your videos.

Video dominates the content world, may it be Youtube or Netflix. Even Instagram that was centered around pictures has introduced a new short video feature -Reels. Everywhere we see the majority of content is video. There are content creators like influencers and YouTubers who focus on creating videos or a living. If you are one of the aspiring content creators or just a video creator, then you would want to know everything about video making.

What is video formatting?

Imagine reading “David Copperfield,” a novel by Dickens on a  bunch of pale white papers in a clunky file, or imagine reading ”  The Road not Taken,” a poem by Robert Frost from a thick, sturdy hardbound book with one word in each page. Does it sound compatible? Will it work? Or is it better to read David Copperfield from a well-bound book and the poem from an Anthology?

The video format is similar to that of a sequence of the written word, but it is more complicated. Video Format is a type of file format that is used for storing digital videos.  Video formats have two primary elements- containers and codecs. The simple way to put it is -the container is the cover inside which the codec is stored.

What are containers and codecs?

When the digital age hit, it threw simplicity out of the window. Gone are the days when you could put in a tape and record the video.  Now, you have devices to record your video directly.

Codecs are the order which is used to layout the data of an audio or video file. The layout is planned in such a way that it can be utilized for playback, editing, or changing to other codecs (transcoding). Codecs are a careful organization of media data. Some examples of codecs are FFMpeg, DivX, XviD, and x264.

However, Container is the wrapper inside which codec is held. Containers can hold audio and video data together in a single file along with additional information. They have file extension like .mov, .avi or .mp3.  Moreover, there are different types of containers.  Some containers hold the media in only a particular codec, e.g., the .mpg file container that’s used for MPEG files only.  On the other hand, there are containers which hold data in a variety of audio and video codec like the  .mov. A container is crucial because it lets a video player know the data present is in both audio and video and needs to be played simultaneously.

What are the common containers?

When you download a file or share it, you often see a file extension like. .mp4 or .avi. These extensions represent the containers. While there are several containers out there, some of them are more popular than the others. Here are few of them-

.mp4

Even a teenager who uses a smartphone knows what an mp4 format is. MP4 is the short version of the less popular MPEG-4 Part 14 container format. The QuickTime File Format greatly inspired it, and the reason for its popularity is because it was developed and used by none other than Apple.

It is the most universal video format around the world. It is used across many digital platforms. Even the streaming giant Youtube vouches for the container format and urges users to upload video in the .mp4 format. It is also used in video players asides iTunes, such as VLC, Windows Media Player, or GOM Player. 

.avi

Other than the MP4 format, AVI is the only one that comes close enough to international standards. AVI is the short version of Audio Video Interleave, and Microsoft developed the AVI format during the early part of the 1990s. It is one of the oldest video formats in the world. For a long time, it was the default video format for some of the world’s most important camera brands.

.mov

.mov video file format or  QuickTime file format was developed by Apple, specifically with the target of it being used by those seeking to edit videos easily. .mp4 is the descendant of .mov, but the difference between them is, .mov videos take up extra space, while mp4 videos compress easily and take relatively less space. However, .mov can be used when one does not want to compromise with the high quality of the video. This video format is used in both Nikon and Canon cameras, where a h 264 video is wrapped in a .mov container.

.WMV

Microsoft designed the WMV video format for mostly streaming purposes. Videos in WMV format can be streamed in Windows Media Player in Microsoft devices. However, the videos aren’t compatible with ios devices, but one can download Windows media player and stream the videos in .wmv format without any hitch.

We are also seeing animated educational videos these days. The purpose of creating an educational video is to give people more reasons, let them know why they should get your product or services. Usually most institutions or government sectors are the ones posting educational videos on “steps to be taken” and “what to do” videos. These videos do not have loud graphics that are in your face, and they should be subtle. It is ultimately, to create awareness and education for the viewers.

What are the common codecs?

There are numerous audio and video codecs.  But some of them are more common than others. Here is a list of the most used codecs-

H.264 (MPEG-4)

h 264 is one of the most popular codecs used in the production and distribution of videos. It is used in most of the camcorders and DSLRs. H 264 is also the standard codec format for Blu-ray disks, as well as many web video hosts. H 264 is widely used because it is excellent at compression. It delivers high-quality videos as compared to MPEG-2. Mostly h 264 video formats highly compress the video files to low-resolution video across the web. And later happily encode your high definition movie at super high bitrates for delivery to an HD television. It is among the best video format available out there.

ProRes

ProRes codecs were the replacement of Apple’s older intermediate codec. Apple ProRes is a series of codecs that offer both lossless and lossy compression. Lossy compression is when the video is compressed to a smaller size, and it loses its high quality. But lossless compression is when the video quality is retained. ProRes format video is used mainly as an acquisition format by makers of cameras and recorders. 

MPEG-2

It is an older version of MPEG-4. It is the standard codec format for DVDs and was originally used for cable TV. Moreover, it was also used for HDV videotape and was famous for web video. Some current cameras still use MPEG-2, and it’s commonly used by editing software to render video previews. MPEG-2 is a lossy compression. That’s why it needs to use lower levels of compression to deliver a high video quality

H.265

H.265, also called HEVC, is fast becoming popular among people. It has become the first choice of many. Mainly it was designed to stream 4K video; that is why it offers efficient compression. Another feature that makes it noteworthy is it gives high-quality video with relatively small file sizes. However, there are still some compatibility challenges with H.265. But most of the video streaming services can readily play the H.265 codec. Many users are calling it the most efficient codec available at the moment, and it seems it will be so till H.266 becomes available.

DivX

DivX is an older codec. It is mainly used when the quality of the video can’t be compromised, and there is no concern regarding the sizable digital video file. Primarily it is used when videos are stored and transported directly on hard drives. Such situations demand, maximize video quality at the expense of having significantly larger file sizes.

What is the use of a codec?

As we discussed earlier, a codec is the layout of video and audio data in a file.  Whenever we want to share a video or play it, the video needs to be compressed or decompressed accordingly. Compressing a video means squeezing the size of the video file so it can be downloaded or played properly. A master file of any video is far too large, and often can’t be uploaded or played. To make the video suitable for various platforms, a video needs to be compressed. A compressed video is usually smaller in size than the original video. 

The technical part of codec and containers may seem to be confusing. But if you want to create and edit videos, then you need to have some basic knowledge about it. Now that we are done with the information on codecs and containers, we need to discuss which format is best suited for your video editing and creating.

Which is the highest quality video format?

When it comes to video format, there is no definitive answer to what is the highest quality. It depends on what your purpose is for the video. But if you want a general answer to that question, then MP4 container with h264 codecs gives one of the highest quality videos. There are many video file formats out there, but MP4 wrapping the h264 codec delivers the best quality video in smaller sizes. 

Now, based on the platforms the videos are shared on, we can discuss the best video format. For online sharing on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and more, the best video format is either.MP4 or WMV. For streaming on TV and computer, the format video is either .avi or.mov.  But AVI format videos are hard to compress and may pose a problem while streaming.

The videos on websites are mostly in.WEBM video format. WebM is a royalty-free format intended for HTML5 and can be embedded directly onto a website without needing a plugin. The upside is it is compatible with popular browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox.

What is the best video compression format?

Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

MP4 format is the best video compression format that can be used. If you want to share your videos online, then saving it in the MP4 format is the best way to go. Video creators and editors use this as a sharing format. It is actually best for online video streaming platforms like YouTube. If you also want, you can make use of MPEG or WMV video format. Mp4 is the most supported video format on the web, so make sure to save it in this format if you plan on sharing it online. Moreover, it also retains the video and audio quality. There are many formatting video tools out there like Shrink videos, Panda, and video compress, which can compress a video to the desired size.

What is the best video format for YouTube?

This question has been asked enough times, by enough people that it has become one of the popular FAQs regarding video formats. According to Youtube itself, According to the giant streaming platform YouTube itself,  the best video format is MP4  with an h 264 video codec and AAC audio codec. The advantage of using this video format is you get a high-quality video at a smaller size. The maximum size of a video you can upload on YouTube is 128 GB or 12 hours. If you have a long video or large video files, then MP4 video format can compress it and reduce the file size. That’s what makes it the best video format for YouTube.  Other than the MP4 format, the Youtube platform also supports MOV, MPEG4, AVI, WMV, MPEG PS, FLV, 3GPP, and WebM.

Is MP4 a good video format?

Yes, MP4 is a good video format. If it weren’t good, then millions of people wouldn’t be using it. But why is MP4 a good video format? One of the main reasons for its broad popularity is its compatibility. Most of the digital devices and platforms support this format making it one of the most universal video formats. Secondly, the versatile nature of MP4 makes it the best choice. It can store video files, audio files, text, and still images. Lastly, this video formats can deliver high-quality video and audio files while maintaining a small file size. MP4 may seem only like a file extension to amateurs, but video creators know its worth.

Which is better? AVI or MP4?

Both AVI and MP4 are containers; it means they wrap up any type of audio or video data. AVI is one of the oldest video formats, while MP4 is the most compressed format available. Each container has specific functions, according to which they are suitable for certain platforms. AVI format is widely used in Windows players or other devices with related codecs. But because of its accentuated file size, the AVI is not widely used for portable devices or video streaming sites.

However, the MP4 format is suitable for various video players or portable devices. It is because it can be used for compression of audio and video data for the web and for streaming over the internet. So, if you want to play video on windows player, then AVI will provide high-quality digital video. But if you’re going to stream video from portable devices, then MP4 format is the best video file format for that.

What does the future of video formats look like?

The great thing about technology is it is always changing and growing. There are DVDs we don’t use anymore because now we are used to video streaming services. Video formats are similar, the more technology advances, the best video format we get. The industry has been leaving behind the old formats and is gravitating towards newer and intuitive formats. In 2017 Adobe announced the discontinuation of the Flash Video when the industry shifted to HTML5. It left behind redundant formats and moved on to better things.

AV1 video codec was specially designed for online streaming in 2018. It has great compression abilities. Moreover, it is royalty-free, has ultra HD video quality, and does not consume as much data as other video file formats.  It may quickly become the next best video format as it is backed by giants like Google, Apple, Netflix, Amazon, and others. In the coming years, AV1 may be supported in various devices and platforms.  It also supports the latest versions of popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox.

Conclusion

Video formats will come and go, some will get outdated, and some will be widely used. There is no such thing as the best video format that will last forever. Now, MP4 is the reigning favorite soon. It will be dethroned by something bigger and better. It may well be pushed away by the new AV1 format.  Whatever may be the case, at the end of the day, video creators want to make high definition digital videos.  If you’re going to create extraordinary videos, then you can use a free online video maker Offeo.  May it be an Instagram story or an online ad, With Offeo, you can create eye-catching videos that will blow the viewers away. It is highly recommended by influencers and marketers alike.

Check out some templates below if you wish to start creating a video online!