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What you should know about video formats

video file format refers to the type of file format for storing digital video data on a computer system, disk or other digital media. Every film and video clip is stored in a certain format and can be converted into another one with AVS Video Converter for free!

Formats universal for common PC media players


It’s probably the most familiar video project associated with PC. It indicates as Windows Media Video file. One of the advantages of these files is a small file size (it’s useful mostly in cases when you try to share it with your friend via the Internet). On the other hand, low size is a result of high video compression which leads to quality losses. Unfortunately, if you want to save your video in HD (or FullHD) quality, you should choose another format. For example, MOV.


It is a container developed by Apple for QuickTime. It can contain several audio and video tracks, subtitles, animation, and horizon-to-horizon images. It’s mostly common among Mac users (nevertheless, it’s compatible with both Macintosh and Windows platforms). MOV file is distinguished by an extremely high visual quality, which certainly, affects its’ size: it’s formidable! In some cases, the size of a 10-minute video can achieve 2 GB! Thanks to high image quality, MOV file often is used for storing FullHD films and videos. 

AVI (Audio-Video Interleaved )

AVI is a standard video format for Windows machines, developed by Microsoft. AVI works as a container holding audio and video created and compressed using several codecs (DivX, XviD, H.264 etc.). AVI files use less compression and take more space than many other video files. They also can be created without compression which leads to the significant file size increase. AVI format is supported by all Windows-based devices as well as many Android-based devices, game consoles and can be played on almost all personal computers.              


MKV (Matroska) is a video container much like MOV and AVI. Can incorporate audio, video, and subtitles into a single file even if those elements were encoded with usage of different codecs (for example, you can have an MKV video file with H.264 video file and AAC or MP3 audio). MKV is not an industry standard, therefore not all media players support it – even though support has grown rapidly. You can use an MKV compatible media player or download the appropriate codecs for the media player to playback such video.

Best formats for Internet sharing


FLV (Flash Video) is the file, that uses Adobe Flash Player to transmit media files over the Intentet (99% of all Internet users have Flash Adobe player installed in the browser, which made this format the most common online viewing platform in a very short time). It’s used on video sharing and news networks (Youtube, Vimeo, Google Video, etc). The current version of the FLV format also supports H.264 codec, which offers a significantly better quality/bitrate ratio. Thanks to it, Flash files can contain high definition quality videos with an ACC sound. The FLV file can be played by almost all popular and open-source media players (VLC, Media Player Classic, Winamp (WinOS) QuickTime (MacOS)).                                                     


SWF (Shokwave Flash or Small Web Format) – a video format, which can contain video and vector-based animations and sound. It’s designed for efficient delivery over the web. It can be played in Adobe Flash Player, VLC Media Player, Media Player Classic Home Cinema, etc. 


WebM is a media file format designed for the web basing on MKV container structure. The main advantage of these files is that they have support for the most popular web browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera) since the format is sometimes used on HTML5 websites for video streaming. The integration of WebM video on the website occurs without long delays and errors in the process. High data compression and video quality rates make this format one of the most successful and popular video formats of the new generation.

Formats common among device users


 MP4 file format is also known as MPEG-4 Part 14 or MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding). MP4 is basically a container that holds audio and video files that are digitally encoded. It’s also used for video streaming over the Internet and becomes a universal standard for sharing videos on the Internet. Thanks to nearly lossless compression algorithm, MP4 videos are famous for its’ higher quality than most other formats.


M4V format (also known as iTunes video file) was developed by Apple and is very similar to the MP4 format as they are both based on MPEG-4 video container format. Unlike MP4M4V can be played only in certain media players: like QuickTime Player, iTunes, RealPlayer, Media Player Classic Home Cinema.


3GP is a multimedia file saved in an audio and video container format developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). Stores video and audio streams that are transmitted between 3G mobile phones and over the Internet. 3GP files are commonly used by 3G mobile phones that support video capture, but may also be played on 2G or 4G phones. On the PC you can open it with a variety of programs (such as Microsoft Moves&TV, QuickTime player, VLC media player and other)

Disc formats

I’m planning to write a post about Disc formats a bit later, so now I’ll give you a brief explanation of these.


VOB (Versioned Object Base) – files that contain the video, audio and subtitles information on the DVD disc (at the same time IFO (information) files contain the navigation and configuration files, BUP file is a backup for the IFO file – standard DVD disc structure).


M2TS is the container format commonly used for high definition video on Blu-Ray Disc and AVCHD. M2TS can provide you with a better viewing experience than other common HD formats. These files can be opened with Windows Media Player, VLC Player, Splash and probably some other popular media player applications as well.


 BDAV/BDMV – Blu-Ray Disc format. Generally, when video content is recorded on BD-R or BD-RE media using a Blu-Ray Disc recorder, the content is recorded in BDAV format (Blu-Ray Audio-Video). On the contrary, BDMV files contain data about the contents of a Blu-Ray disc (video file title, location directory) and include index.bdmv, MovieObject.bdmv and sound.bdmv (these files don’t hold the actual multimedia files themselves).

Convert all the video formats above with Free AVS Video Converter and share it with your friends! 

That’s all with common video file formats for today. Soon I will write a similar post describing the most common audio formats!).

What’s your preferred format for each purpose? Please share your experience in the comments below.


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