What are the different video file formats?
To answer this question, it is useful to recall what a video file consists of, and to understand the notions of encoding, container format and codec format.
What is a container format and a codec format?
A video uses a set of technologies to produce multimedia content that will then be encoded to optimize its storage and facilitate its transmission.
The video files are encoded in different container formats, also called standards, which you will find at the end of the name of your file, like «video.avi».
These are encoded in different video codec formats that allow to manage the flow of information, as well as the encoding or decoding of content.
The MOV video file format
Created by Apple and then taken over by Microsoft to further its expansion into the video industry, this video file format offers high-definition content. Its video stream offers one of the least compressed video file format in the market.
The video file format .mov can contain multiple audio and video tracks, but also subtitle text, as well as various effects. Readable under QuickTime Player on Mac, it is also compatible with VLC on Windows.
The AVI video file format
The AVI video file format is a container running with a codecs system. It allows you to encode, decode and compress the digital data stream.
A video in .avi encodes video files in DivX, Xvid, Mpeg, and audio files like MP3 or AC3. The AVI encapsulates these streams in very high quality, which can make the .avi a long file to encode and download, but whose HD is ensured.
It is readable under Microsoft with Windows Movie Maker, or download VLC for any type of operating system.
The MP4 video file format
The .mp4 file stands for “Movie Picture Exports Group”, or MPEG. It is a coding system for video and audio files. The MPEG4, simplified under the name of MP4, is the result of consecutive versions from 1991 to 1998 that aim to provide a universal format accessible to all operating systems.
Of good quality, the .mp4 is compatible with any type of platform which makes it the preferred encoding format for streaming, for applications, television and downloading on the Internet.
The FLV video file format
The FLV video file format is the acronym for “Flash Video”, whose extension is in .flv. It is a container format optimized for sharing on networks. Its high streaming is thought to be light and fast to share, while retaining a beautiful quality of video and sound.
Created to play in Adobe Flash Player, version 1 to 10, it is necessary to download a video player to be able to open and play a video file .flv, such as VLC Media Player or RealPlayer for Windows or Mac.
The WMV video file format
The .wmv is both a container format and a codec. The digital data is compressed in order to contain a set of multimedia content.
Developed by Microsoft, the WMV video file format is common in streaming and downloading as it offers HD image and sound quality with efficient compression.
If used as a codec, the WMV will perform a content volume compression, allowing it to encode and decode the .wmv file. In order to play a WMV video file format, choose Windows Media Player, VLC or Winamp.
The MKV video file format
The MKV format, «Matroska Video», is a free container format. It can contain in a single file, under the extension .mkv, several soundtracks, videos, chapitrages and subtitles.
A .mkv video stands out for its quality in very high definition: from 720p to 4K, used for Blu-Ray technology. Compatible with all video and audio streams, the .mkv allows ease of working with multimedia content.
To read it, without losing quality by compression, use VLC which allows a reading of the .mkv. Decoder filters are available on the Matroska site in «Additional Information on Playback».
The OGG video file format
The .ogg file is a container format. Accessible for free, the Ogg format has many non-patented formats and media codecs.
The Ogg container uses the .oga format for audio, .ogv for video, encoded by Theora, and .ogx for applications.
Readable directly online with the browsers Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, but also Google Drive, it is not necessary to install a player program. However, VLC works perfectly for reading it under any type of operating system.
The VOB video file format
The VOB video file is a system for encapsulating and joining different media streams. This format is included in DVDs to ensure the security of the content, since they are essentially protected films.
The .vob files are located in the VIDEO_TS category, in the ROOT file tree of the DVD. Although protected by copyright, it is possible to read and export a . vob with VLC with any operating system, or MP Player with Windows, Mac and Linux.
The WebM video file format
The WebM video file format is a system based on a Matroska derived container. Free, it allows to work with sound and video optimized under HTML-5, with VP8 video and Vorbis in audio codec.
The .webm ensures HD multimedia quality thanks to its codec H.264. Recent format, it is thought for Internet and streaming applications. It ensures a fast export of lightweight files, requiring little resources to the operating system.
Made for the web, it takes place directly in internet browsers that will read directly .webm without extensions, except Safari and Microsoft Edge.