Let's know the different video container formats FLV, MKV, AVI, MOV, MP4, WMV, MPG and what are video codecs?

We know there are many video players that support all kinds of video formats. For example, I like Pot Player the most (I did a tune about it beforeWhen we discuss about different video formats then naturally FLV, MKV, AVI, MOV, MP4, WPV, MPG these formats come before us, hopefully which one do you like? 

Then each person will answer in a different way. But do we really know which is the best format or which formats should we prefer when we rip DVDs or download videos from the Internet?

Choosing the best video format is really a difficult task. Because most of us have been knowing for a long time that these video formats are nothing but file extensions. But you will know after reading my tune that these are not just file extensions. Let's get started then.

The extensions we will discuss are various video codecs and their containers. For example, after downloading a movie, you will see DivX or x264 or MPEG-4 or H.264 written before the extension. These are video codecs. Let's know what are video codecs and containers?

What is Codec?

All the video files we watch in our media players are actually a compressed format. Because videos need a lot of compression to fit our media player. Maybe you don't understand, then I will explain with an example.

The actual file size of all the Blu-ray videos we watch can range from 30-50GB. Now if you want to download a video then it will be almost impossible for you. Because your computer space and internet speed and package are not enough for this. I left out the tab or Android. In order to make all these videos easily usable, some video quality has to be reduced and compressed. So a codec is a compressed data that tells you how to play the video file in a media player or use it as you like. Many video codecs are installed on our computers by default. Some of the codecs are mentioned below:

  • FFmpeg (It's a combination of MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 codecs. It's good to know that MPEG-2 is used to store data on DVD and MPEG-4 codec is used by Apple in their iTunes store).
  • The DivX codec can work with MPEG-4. Additionally, DivX codec is used to rip DVDs to create HD videos.
  • The XviD codec is an open source project of DivX. Being open source, this codec is widely used in pirated movies.
  • x264, it compresses videos in H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC) format and is mainly used for HD videos.

We found that there are different codecs for our desired task. Most of the time it leaves us in a dilemma which one to use among so many codecs. But the good news is that they are all MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group) standard so you can use any one you need.

Container key:

So far we have learned about different types of codecs. Now let's know about containers. We are all familiar with the term container. The job of a container is to contain something. However, we generally understand a media container as a collection of many files. Basically the container consists of a combination of video codecs and audio codecs (although it also contains subtitles). Because of this container we can separate audio files or subtitles from video. And at will we can separate or combine audio with our video or video with audio. With this you can rip videos in a controlled way. But let's learn about different video containers.

  • Flash Video Format (.flv)

    It is a very popular container format. Flash videos are compatible with Flash movies. Almost all browsers support the Flash video format. You are supported during the download of this type of video format file, progressive and streaming. And it's much more compact.

  • AVI Format (.avi)

    It stands for Audio Video Interleave. 
    It was first developed by Microsoft Corporation. Although this container mainly uses M-JPEG, or DivX, it also uses almost any other codec to store its data. As a result, the codecs are also easier to distinguish. It compresses less data and is a popular container format among Internet users.

    This container format is supported by almost all media players on other operating systems including Windows and Mac.

  • Matroska (which uses the extension MKV)

    It is a high definition video container. 
    It is generally used for watching videos on wide screen displays. It is not supported by standard video players but works on almost all good quality players. It is used for high quality video ripping.

  • Quicktime Format (.mov)

    Apple was the first to create this container format. 
    It is commonly used on the Internet. Text effects can also be used with video and audio codecs in this container. It supports both Windows and Mac platforms. You can use Quicktime or Pot Player to play it.

  • MP4 Format (.mp4)

    It is one of the most used formats. 
    It can usually contain audio, video, and three-dimensional video content. There is no substitute for low bit rate encoding. This container compresses videos to MPEG-4 codec and audio to AAC files. It supports almost all types of media players.

  • Mpg Format (.mpg)

    It is a common video container format of MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group). 
    It typically compresses audio and video data using MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 codecs. This format is mostly used to create downloadable files. Apple QuickTime and Microsoft Windows Media Player support it by default.

  • Windows Media Video Format (.wmv)

    It is a container format developed by Microsoft Corporation. 
    I don't want to say much about this because it doesn't support any operating system other than Windows. No separate software is usually available to run it.

  • 3GP File Extension (.3gp)

    It is usually composed of audio and video codecs. 
    It is made for mobile phones. It is usually used for data transfer in 3G phones. If we notice, we will see that it is not mainly used anywhere other than the phone.

Which one shall we use?

I have tried to briefly discuss each codec and container. My knowledge on this subject is also very limited. I have not found any language resource on the internet regarding this. From what you know, you can decide which one is right for you. But if you want to make or watch video for wide screen then definitely use H.264 and MKV and if you want to make video for tablet or small screen then use H.264 and MP4.

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