Even if you’ve never edited the videos, you probably know some video formats like MP4, AVI or MPEG. You’ve probably also heard that video recordings are sometimes converted from one format to another. Would you like to know more? In this article, we’ll talk about MOV format and other types of popular video files and the differences between them. We will also give you some practical tips on how to choose the appropriate format in which to store your MOV videos.
What is a video format?
A video file format is a structure in which a video recording is stored in the memory of a computer, disk, or other digital devices. A format consists of two parts: a container in which the recording is stored and a codec used to process the sound and image for viewing. Confused? Let’s clarify the things!
What is a codec?
A codec is a program that handles the encoding of large amounts of data and makes them uncompressed during playback. There are codecs specific to each type of data: audio, video, etc.
What is a container?
To answer this question, let’s take a look at the process of recording a video with a digital device (camera, mobile phone or any other gadget). These devices record audio and video as different streams, encoding them with a special program called codec. Both flows are then compressed into a special file – the container – where a description is provided. This description allows media players to synchronize audio and video correctly during playback of the recording.
Many popular smartphones and cameras shoot videos in MP4. It’s one of the most popular video formats supported by all PCs and laptops. However, iPhones, iPods, and iPads take video in MOV. MOV is a container developed by Apple. So it’s the native format of all Apple gadgets. To playback MOV on Windows, you will need to install additional media players like QuickTime or VLC. Since it’s not too comfortable to have a separate player for an extension; it’s better to convert MOV videos to a universal format. Let’s have a look at a couple of most popular extensions.
AVI is one of the oldest and most popular multimedia formats, where data in a video file is stored in tagged “blocks.” Microsoft initially introduced it as part of its video for Windows technology. Thanks to its simplicity, AVI is supported by all Windows-based devices, as well as many Android-based gadgets, game consoles such as Xbox and PSP, and most operating systems for personal computers, including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.
Derived from MOV QuickTime file format, MP4 quickly became a universal standard for sharing a video on the Internet and elsewhere. MP4 provides a compression algorithm with almost no quality loss and therefore a higher quality than most other formats. It is also accepted by nearly all computers, phones, TVs and DVD players from Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Lenovo, and many other manufacturers.
The FLV or Flash Video format is mainly used to play video content online using Adobe Flash Player. FLV video files retain high quality even after being compressed to much smaller sizes, allowing users to upload videos online faster. Since the player is pre-installed in almost any browser, FLV is supported by video hosting sites like YouTube, Hulu, VEVO and others.
Another format developed by Microsoft, WMV was initially positioned as a competitor of RealVideo. WMV files are among the smallest video files on the Internet, although the quality of WMV is often lower due to the significant reduction in size after compression. The main app to play WMV video is Windows Media Player, available on all Windows-based platforms.
While conceptually similar to other containers such as MP4 and AVI, the Matroska Video (MKV) format differs from then in one important thing – it is entirely open source. MKV can include an unlimited number of video and audio tracks and features such as multilingual subtitles in a single file, so it has now become the preferred format for HD videos on the Web.
What is the best video format to use?
Video formats differ significantly in the contents of their container. Some, such as AVI, may include multiple audio tracks and subtitles; others, like MKV, allow you to pack everything you need: audio and video tracks, animated subtitles and text, characters and more. The formats also differ in the fact that each of them works only with a specific list of audio and video codecs.
These two fundamental differences can lead to many other variations: file size, video resolution, support for streaming, etc. Some formats produce higher quality images and audio, while others only provide the basics. However, there is no definitive answer to the question “which video format is the best to convert MOV to?” The answer depends on the specific device on which you will watch a movie; the best format could be the most easily available, the most compressed or the one with the highest quality.
You can always change the format of the video with a simple program called a video converter. It will allow you to quickly change the extension of the video to the one supported by your device. You can find a lot of converters on the Internet both free and paid. We recommend trying Freemake Video Converter. It is a simple but powerful program that will help you convert MOV video to various formats. For example, you can convert your MOV file to MP4 in a few clicks.
Choosing the format in which to save MOV videos for viewing on your device depends on what you want to do. Here are some examples.
I want to upload videos online
For YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, use MP4 with H.264 video codec and AAC audio. This configuration will ensure the highest quality and minimum file size. Most other websites are compatible with MP4, FLV, and AVI so that you can select one of these extensions.
I want to archive and watch videos on my computer
If you are interested in HD quality, choose MKV or M2TS and enjoy the best audio and video quality on a professional level. For standard quality video, we recommend MP4, AVI or WMV if you are using a PC or a Windows laptop; choose MP4 if you are using a Mac.
I want to archive and watch videos on my mobile device
Depending on the resolution of your phone or tablet and the formats it is compatible with, choose MP4 or 3GP.