How to Figure Out Which Video Format is the Best Option

How to Figure Out Which Video Format is the Best Option

By: Abe Abbie

If you are producing or distributing videos, at some point or other you are going to have to choose a format to encode them in. That can be tricky, and when confronted with so many
options (half of which you may not even recognize), figuring out which one is best may seem impossible.

If you want to select the best video format to use – it helps to first understand video formats and how they work.

Understanding Video Formats:

Although people tend to identify video formats based on their file extension, it is really just
the manner in which part of the format is represented. In actual fact the video format has
two main parts:

The video codec is what compresses (and decompresses) the video data and arranges it using algorithms to store it.

-The container is the wrapping that holds together the components that make up the
video, including the video codec, audio codec, and other features.

When you select a video format, you need to choose both the container and a video codec – as both go hand in hand.

Factors to Select a Video Format:

To decide which video format is ‘best’, you need to evaluate them based on several factors
– each of which is important:

Compatibility and support

The format that you choose needs to be compatible with the device or platform it
will be viewed on, otherwise it may not be able to be played. Ideally the video codec
should have hardware support so that decompressing it for playback does not place
as large a load on the CPU and consumes less power.

Another lens through which compatibility needs to be factored in is the fact that
different containers support different ranges of codecs.

Compression:
The video codec is what determines the compression rate of the video. Newer
codecs generally have better compression rates, and can reduce the video file size
substantially while maintaining the same quality.

For example, if you were to encode the same video in H.264 and H.265 with the same
quality, the H.265 video would be up to 50% smaller.

Additional features:
As mentioned previously, the video container determines what other features are supported. For certain videos this may be important, as some popular features that
you may require include support for captions, menus, chapters, streaming, or metadata.

Based on the features listed above, you should be able to evaluate formats and figure out
which one is “best.” Normally it is best to start with some of the more popular formats, as
they tend to be widely – used for good reason.

Popular Video Formats:

Out of the many different formats that are out there, there are a few that are used very
frequently. The ones that you need to know about right now are:

MP4 with H.264 is arguably the single-most popular and widely-supported format. It
is supported by most devices and platforms, and is the recommended format of
most social media and online video platforms as well.
MP4 or MKV with H.265 is the successor to H.264. Its adoption has been slow for
various reasons and so support for it is still not nearly as widespread. Still it can
compress videos to significantly smaller sizes than its predecessor.
MPEG-4 Part 2 is a fairly old format, but often used to cater to older devices that
may have more limited support – such as older set-top boxes, mobile devices, or
some DVD players.

MPEG-2 is a very dated format, and yet is still widely used as it is the format in which
DVD videos are stored. Although some DVD players support other formats, they are
few and far between.
AV1 is a new codec recently released by the AOMedia consortium. Although still in
the early stages of adoption, it has considerable industry support and is being rolled
out quickly. It has superior compression rates, even compared to H.265.

Final Words:

By this point you should understand how to figure out which video format is best. All that
remains is to actually try using a video conversion software, and for example you could use Movavi Video Converter.

It should be noted that the popular video formats listed above are likely to change in time as newer formats supplant older ones. That being said the criteria that you use to evaluate
which format is best will remain the same, so you can always fall back on that in order to
figure out which format to use.

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