Which video file format do I need?
January 19th 2015
Following on from our Rough Guide to Post-Production blog, you should by now have an idea of the different stages involved in post-production. The final final stage is for us to export the completed video which is when we create a file that can be used by you to play the video. This can be an extremely lengthy process so we always have to make sure that we’ve dotted the Is and crossed the Ts before hitting the Export button. Depending on where the video is going to be used will affect the type of video file format we create, therefore I thought it would be helpful for me to take you through some of the most common video file formats we produce and what they are generally used for.
These are probably the most common type of file that we export and it’s for a very good reason. MP4s are great for uploading to websites like YouTube and VImeo where a vast majority of our videos end up. The files can give you great quality HD video without the file sizes becoming too large and unwieldy. You can sometimes lose a bit of colour definition in these files but they load quickly online and are really popular as they play on pretty much every platform.
Windows Media Video files are, as the name suggests, native to Microsoft platforms. A high quality WMV will look fantastic but will take up a lot more disk space than an MP4. These files aren’t so good for internet video but we tend to recommend them for integrating into Powerpoint Presentations when using a PC.
A MOV file is often referred to as a Quicktime file which is the creation of Apple. As a video format it can hold an incredible amount of data in separate tracks making it ideal for post-production work. Clients who use Apple products will often request the completed videos in this format as they are native to those systems.
If you need a small, quick loading file then FLVs or Flash Video might be just what you need. They’re not always of the greatest quality but you can make the file sizes absolutely tiny. The downside is that you’ll struggle to get them to play on any mobile or tablet device which is why they aren’t all that popular anymore. However, if you tend to use Prezi for your presentations then you’ll definitely need a Flash video.
Very few of our clients ever request that we provide them with a video in Mpeg2 format as we generally only ever use them as a file to produce DVDs with. This format can helpfully hold data such as chapter points for DVD making it easy to move seamlessly from our editing software to our DVD authoring software.
Similar to Mpeg2s, H.264s are often a file we’ll export when we are producing blu-rays. They hold their data fairly well and produce a relatively small file size making it quicker and easier to author blu-rays.
We try to avoid delivering AVIs to clients as they are more of an editing format and a good way to archive videos. The files sizes can be enormous as they store so much data which makes them great to work with but not so good as a client friendly format.
This has been a brief overview of just some of the file formats we use in video production. Hopefully, the next time you hear your video production company talking about what files they need to export you’ll have a bit more of an idea of what they’re talking about.
We always work closely with our clients to make sure that they get their project delivered in the right format. If you have any questions about this subject or any other of our other video production services then please get in touch on 01273 911345.