Are you staring at a long list of video formats and have no idea which is the best one to use to encode your video? While you may recognize some, there are others that you’ve probably never heard of – and you may not have any idea what any of them do.
Although selecting the best video format can seem daunting, it really isn’t that difficult. In fact in most cases it is fairly easy to find the best format based on how you’re going to be using the video:
- Publish on online platforms or social media
If you want to publish your video on video sharing platforms or social media, it is always best to use their recommended settings to ensure the video is displayed correctly. Typically that includes the format, such as the recommended settings for YouTube for example.
- Distribute to multiple people
In some cases you may want to distribute your video, either as a file download, or by sending it to them directly. The priority should be to use a video format that is widely-supported, so that none of the recipients has any trouble viewing the video.
While subject to change, right now the most widely-supported format is MP4 with H.264 and so it is probably the one you want to use.
- Compress the video file size
The codec that you use in your video format will determine the type of compression it uses – and affect the file size. If you want to reduce the file size choosing a codec with superior compression such as H.265 can help, but you should check it is compatible with the device the video will be viewed on.
- Burn to DVDs
To burn a video DVD the video file needs to be in MPEG-2, otherwise most DVD players will have trouble reading it. The only exception to that is if it will only be watched on a particular DVD player that is new and supports other formats.
- Edit or create video content
If you are encoding a video that you intend to edit later or create video content from, it is best to initially choose a lossless format. The best format will vary based on the editor and platform that you’re using, but the idea is to keep the video at as high a quality as possible until after it is edited.
As you can see it isn’t that difficult to figure out which format to use based on how you want to use your video. Some specific platforms may have preferences such as M4V for iTunes or WMV for Windows Media Player. In most cases MP4 is a good overall option however, and for example you could use Online Video Converter to convert M4V to MP4 online easily.
Regardless of the format that you choose to encode your video in, it helps to keep the original around. That way if you want to you can transcode the video from the original to avoid the quality deteriorating by transcoding a copy over and over again.