The most popular video formats for the internet

What You Need to Know about the Most Popular Video Formats

Windows Media Video (.wmv)

Developed by Microsoft in 2003, but not officially approved until 2006, Windows Media Video has been popular ever since. Because of the pervasiveness of Microsoft computers, Windows Media Video is a format that most people can play. One can play Windows Media Video on a non-Windows computer, but an extra, free component must be installed for internet steaming applications.

Windows Media Video´s file extension is .wmv. Windows Media Video is based on ASF which wraps a video bitstream. These files are usually the smallest video files out there for their file size decreases significantly after compression. Because of this the videos are often not the best quality, but do transfer quickly.

Moving Picture Experts Group (.mpeg, .mpg, .mp4)

MPEG was established as a committee in 1988 by ISO and IEC. It is meant to set the standards for audio and video compression and transmission. MPEG-1 was their first format and it came out in 1933. It was used for coding of videos up to 1.5 Mbit/s.MPEG-2 came next, then MPEG-4 which built on the two systems before.

DVDs are usually in MPEG-2, but are starting to shift to MPEG-4. MPEG-4 was developed in 1998. MPEG-4 became wildly popular because of Apple´s iTunes store. One reason Apple picked MPEG-4 for its store is it supports Intellectual Property Management and Protection which allows owners of the video to protect content like digital rights.

Popular online video formats

Audio Video Interleave (.avi)

AVI was introduced by Microsoft in November 1992. AVI allows synchronized audio-with-video playback. Unlike WVI that is also created by Microsoft, AVI compresses the files less.

AVI is often partnered with the codec DivX which is used for larger videos that need to be transferred over the internet. One limitation for AVI is it does not provide a standardized way to encode aspect ratio meaning sometimes you will manually have to set this.

Flash Video Format (.flv)

Most video sharing sites, including YouTube, VEVO, Hulu, MySpace, and Yahoo! Video, use the same platform: Flash Video Format.

Flash Video was developed in 2002 and it uses Adobe Flash Player version 6 or newer. Falsh Video codecs uses a H.263 variant named Sorenson Spark or VP6 video compression formats. It supports both progressive and streaming download and is viewable on most operating systems.

QuickTime (.mov)

Developed by Apple in 1991, QuickTime File Format was developed as an extension of the Apple video player QuickTime. With QuickTime all the files contain one or more tracks for storing video, audio, text, or effects. This means that QuickTime is particularly suited for editing.

Why Video Formats are so Important?

Different platforms require different combinations of formats, codecs, and bitrates (read more about video encoding). First rule of video encoding is that you should try to avoid it at all costs by simply shooting in the right format, but if it is necessary make sure you start with a high quality preferably uncompressed format and go to a lower quality format. This will avoid encoding degradation.

Most popular video formats

With Sezion’s cloud-based automatic video editing platform (API, SDKs or even our no-coding-required tools) the encoding process is included in our solution and is really easy to manage. This will help you safe time and money when thinking about a unified platform for your online video effort and developement, no matter what video format you need or use.

If you’d like to discuss how you can implement online video editing and generation at scale to achieve your goals, please get in touch.