3 Factors to Consider When Selecting a Video Format

Most people are rarely in a situation where they need to choose a video format, so much so they aren’t sure what to do when they actually have to. If you’re editing or creating videos in any way odds are you’ll need to choose a format to encode them in sooner or later – which is why it is important to know what factors to consider.

To that end there are three main factors that you should take into account:

  • Compatibility

The format that you choose for your video needs to be compatible with the device or platform that it is going to be viewed on. Using a popular and widely-supported format is a good start, and options such as MP4 with H.264 are generally best when distributing videos to users that could be on a wide range of devices and platforms.

However in some cases you’ll want to be more specific. For example for viewing a video on DVD players you’ll want to use MPEG-2, and for uploading to online platforms you’ll want to use the recommended settings of that platforms – such as YouTube’s recommended settings.

  • Compression

Part of the format known as the codec will determine how the data is compressed, and that in turn will affect its file size. The compression algorithms used by codecs generally improve over time, and so newer codecs are able to compress videos to smaller file sizes while maintaining the same quality.

That being said this factor needs to be considered in tandem with compatibility, as newer codecs may not be as widely-supported as older ones.

  • Features

Some videos may have additional features at times, such as captions, menus, chapters, and so on. The container determines which features a video format can support, and so it is a factor that should be considered.

If you aren’t using any additional features you could ignore this, or you conversely you could choose a container that is known to support most current features such as MKV.

Each of the factors listed above will play a part in your decision, and you should consider them as a whole when selecting your format – both its container as well as its codec. It should be noted that you can transcode the format later by using Movavi Video Converter for example, but it should not be done repeatedly or you could lose data.

At the end of the day you should choose a format with the best compression that has the feature you support – while still being compatible with the devices or platforms you want it to be viewed on. Pull that off, and you should essentially have the ‘best’ format for your video.

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