September 16

Digital Video File Formats Explained

Digital video file formats drive lots of people up the wall. Including me. 🙂

I’ve heard some people complain that confusion over file formats is what prevents them from using video online.

Let’s get over that!

video editing software

Although they can indeed be a pain, understanding video file formats on a basic level well enough to use online video is NOT that difficult.

If simple use of online video is your goal, a complete A-Z knowledge of file formats will not be necessary to function. If you know the common formats, you’ll be ok.  Which video editing software you choose can sometimes depend on the file formats it works with.  Make sure you have compatability.

There are two main times during the whole process of video making when files formats are an issue.

1. What format comes out of your camera? (Or whatever your source video is.) It needs to be accepted by whatever video editing program you use. Before you buy a video editing program, check to see what formats it accepts. Make sure it matches your source video format.

2. When you are finished editing, you need to convert the final show into an appropriate sharing format, such as MPEG4. There are only a handful of common sharing formats. MPEG4 is the most common on the web today. If you are uploading to the web, sites generally take the same common sharing formats.

Source video files, used at the beginning of a project and probably coming from your camera, will be uncompressed, large files.  These files have a lot of digital information that will get stripped out when converterd or compressed.

A sharing file on the other hand, is compressed quite a bit so it can play online without buffering forever.  The trick is to take out only the digital information not detectable by the human eye.  However, this information is read by an editing program, which is why converted or compressed files are not best for using as your master original source files.


Most formats are compatible with multiple players and will work in many situations. Lots of people think there is ONE magic format that works best. Truth is, all formats have their pros and cons and are used in different situations.  There can often be a best format for a specific task.

If you want to edit your video, save yourself some headaches and buy a video camera that records in an edit-friendly format.  Ever-changing video formats have always been a technical challenge of videomaking, even long before digital formats entered the picture.

3/4 inch video tape
This is a 3/4 inch videotape, which was the industry standard decades ago in the 80s, and has been replaced by upgrades many tines since. A 3/4 was much larger than a VHS format tape.  VHS was 1/2 tape.  


Converting from one format to another is no more difficult that doing a “save as” with a word document. You pick which format you want and the software does the rest. More than likely, the default settings will work ok, so even if you don’t know what any of the settings actually mean, it probably won’t matter.

The trick of course is to have the right software for the job and know what format you want. Depending on the sophistication of the software you’re using, you might have options in terms of size, resolution, compression type, compression amount, etc.

Simple programs do not give you that many options. In fact, really simple video editing programs often do not even require you know what format you need. Those programs just ask how the video is going to be used and then select the right format for you. If you haven’t a clue what you are doing, trusting that default process usually gets good results, but not always.

Any video editing software should be able to convert into multiple formats. No matter what type of conversion you need to do, there is some conversion software somewhere that will do the job. (That link will take you to a blog post about two free conversion packages).

It pays to know the most common formats. There are dozens of video formats, but you DO NOT have to know even a fraction of all that in order to use online video with confidence.

Below, I list the most common ones and their pros, cons and typical uses.

This list is by no means a complete list. It is meant for beginning and intermediate level video producers.

If this list does not contain the information you seek, try this post too.

AVCHD: This is an HD format for high resolution video. These files are becoming quite common as HD spreads to more consumers. AVCHD is not a sharing format, it’s for video at the beginning of a project. Since HD is still a new format, few edit programs handle HVCHD files yet, although the list grows daily.

Lots of cameras today shoot AVCHD and if you just want to watch your home movies without editing, AVCHD is a good format. 

.avi: AVI is what’s known as a container format. (Sometimes referred to as a wrapper.) There are many formats in this category and here’s what it means. Let’s make an analogy of a “container” for liquid. The container is the container; it will hold any kind of liquid. (Or even a solid!) You can put water or gasoline into the container. Same with a “container” video format.

Video formats come in parts, layers and types. The “container” is part of the video file and it holds other parts. Any video you watch is made up of a container and numerous interior parts. For example, the video and audio are actually separate signals bundled together within the container.

Those interior parts can vary and the video still be considered a certain format. This leads to very confusing compatibility issues! Just because your format is something common like AVI does not mean it will work within a program that accepts AVI. Chances are it will not be too hard to make the necessary adjustments once you know what you need to adjust.

AVI is an early form of video file so it has been around forever and is very common. The fact that it has been around forever means it is highly compatible with most players, even with the rotating insides issues.

AVI is for video in the beginning of a video project. .avi files are usually way too big for a finished video so it is not considered a sharing file. .avi is better used as a format in the beginning stages of video production, not for the final output.

.wmv: A Microsoft format. .wmv stands for Windows Media Video. .wmv files are tiny because they are highly compressed. This is one of the smallest sharing formats, so it is for the end stages of your video project.

Any video this highly compressed looks a bit ragged, that’s just the nature of the beast. I think .wmv files look horrible. The more you compress a video, the more details and info you take out. This makes your resolution suffers. Compression is always a balance between file size and image quality. But tiny video files are a great thing, so sometimes people are willing to put up with the lousy resolution in order to have the convenience of a small video file.

.WMV files are the type of videos you get emailed directly to you. .wmv are about the only type of file small enough to email so that is a huge advantage. As bad as I think wmv files look, I don’t care that the video is grainy when my friends send me funny videos attached directly to the email.

Since windows based products are so common, .wmv files will play on just about anything, except a Mac. No problem! If you want to play a wmv file on a mac, download some software from microsoft called Flip for Mac. There is a free version.

.mov files: .mov as the file extension means the video is a Quicktime Movie file, which is an Apple software product. Quicktime movie files are very common and one of my personal favorites. MOV functions frequently as both a sharing file but with the correct parameters, an .MOV can be quality enough to use as source video inside of an editing program. In fact, if you download stock footage chances are fairly high that it will be an .mov file.  (There can be a lot of variability in size and quality within any single format, if parameters had been set differently.)

.mov files usually look great, but unless you compress them an awful lot, they are still a bit big for a sharing file.

I did an experiment where I converted the exact same video into both a .mov and the other into a .wmv, using the standard default compression settings. The .mov look significantly better but it was 80MB and the .wmv only about 2 MB. That is a huge difference and it showed, but 80 MB is pretty fat.

.flv means it is a Flash video format. This was an extremely common and popular format because it is small, but still looks good. This was the most common sharing format on the web, but Flash was phased out aftert Steve Jobs and Apple came out with the iPad and refused to make it flash compatible.  Jobs was not a fan of Flash.

Flash is no longer the defacto standard.  MPEG4 is the most universal format on the internet today.

MPEG2: MPEG 2 is the type of video file a home DVD player will read. When you rented a Hollywood Movie from Blockbuster, the DVD will contain an MPEG2 file.

MPEG2 is way too big for the web. MPEG2 is also incompatible with video editing software. You can not edit an MPEG2 file without converting it first. Use some common and free conversion software called MPEG Streamclip.

Some new video cameras shoot on MPEG2 because camera manufacturers have realized more people care about the ability to pop their home movies into a DVD player to instantly watch than care about editing their video. So if you are buying a video camera, keep this in mind. Before editing mpeg2 video you have got to convert it first. That is not difficult once you have the mpeg streamclip which I linked to in the above paragraph, but it would be a hassle to do with every clip you take.

MPEG 4 is today’s defacto universal standard for video files on the web. MPEG4 is a sharing format that produces tiny files that still look pretty good.  A video that is 100MB as a quicktime move might only be about 10 MB as a MPEG2. (Assuming you use the default compression settings.)

Which file format is “best” for you to use depends on how you are going to use it. If you want to email a video, it had better be tiny so you need to throw high resolution out the window. On the other hand, if you are trying to impress some big money investors with a video of your invention, high resolution would be way more important than a tiny file size. If you are going for the best compatibility online, today the recommendation is for MPEG4.


First, a brief explanation about why so many digital video file formats exist and what that really means.

High quality video files (raw footage files) are huge. The higher the resolution, the bigger the file because it contains more information in order to achieve that high gorgeous resolution. HD video is difficult to edit with the file sizes are so huge.

To play videos on the web or your computer, they have to be compressed, or made smaller. This is done by designing ways to take information out of the video signal. If you take information out, the resulting file is smaller, but the loss of information degrades the picture quality. This process is called compression.

Video files can be compressed in a wide variety of ways by different kinds of software. This results in many different formats.  Format is indicated by the three letters (sometimes 4) that follow the file name.

Example: If a video file name is, the .mov means it is a Quicktime Movie file. Quicktime is an Apple format described in detail above.

If the video file is MyVacation.wmv, the .wmv means it is Windows Media Video, which is a Microsoft format. That format is in the above list.

Lots of different companies and organizations have designed programs to compress video. They each have their own way of doing it, so you have lots of different file formats. Some were created by Microsoft, some by Apple, some by standardizing agencies like the Motion Picture Experts Group. which is what MPEG stands for.

Once you compress a video, you have to have a program that “reads” it, or basically uncompresses it to play. The program that “reads” the video is called a video player. Video players are built to read particular video file formats and not others. This is another avenue for incompatibility.

In a video editing program, the format affects how each command will work. When they design a program, they build it to work with certain formats only.

Microsoft was never anxious for you to see videos made by Apple computers, so they made their video players incapable of deciphering an Apple-made video and visa versa.

So everybody is competing and the nature of the beast guarantees incompatibility. Phooey!

The good news is that over the years, more and more compatibility was built into the system in order to satisfy the public, who of course, need easy compatibility. So now, most computers contain multiple players, one of which will handle whatever video you want to play. Most online video sites can also handle multiple formats. So in general, if you stick with the most common formats, you will be fine.

Now that you understand how easy video formats really are, you can convert and upload with confidence!

Thanks for reading Video Production Tips.

Lorraine Grula



.mov, .wmv, AVI, digital video file formats, flash video, flv, flv video, how to make video, mpeg2, mpeg4, video file formats, video files, windows media video

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  1. Lorraine,

    Thanks for the great explanation.

    Out of interest what tools do you use to convert AVI files to FLV for standard and high definition video to go on a web site?


  2. Hi Mike.

    I do the vast majority of my video conversions within the program of final cut, or within the compressor software that comes bundled with FC. I also use MPEG streamclip quite a bit for conversions FCP can not handle. I also have flip for mac to go for the microsoft formats like avi or wmv.
    Hope this helps you. Conversion can be confusing to get right. It’s a subject I learn more about all the time.

  3. I’ve been doing a lot of research because I’m trying to create a media jukebox where I’m going to rip all my DVDs… but the part I can’t seem to find definitive answers on is surround sound audio? Which digital formats retain surround sound encoding? I know AC-3 retains some form of 5.1, but is that the same a Dolby or DTS surround? This part is not clear to me. Would you know of any resources? Great article, it helped me move another step in the right direction.

  4. Hi Ken.

    Glad the article helped you. You ask a very good question. Honestly, I have never had the need to produce surround sound so I am not sure. Sorry. I never like not knowing, but your question is outside my knowledge base. Gotta be honest about that! Good luck.

  5. I have been asked to produce a half dozen two – three minute reports with video, audio and stills. I’d like to acquire a second HD video camera. Do I spend a couple of thou. on a pro model or is a less expensive one going do the job. If so, any recommendations?

  6. Hi Don.

    Good question! I would say a lot depends on your budget and whether you need the flexibility a better camera will get you. Often the true advantages of having a more expensive camera are that you as the camera operator have more control and options. An inexperienced camera operator might not even know how to take advantages of these options, so it would kind of be a waste. More expensive cameras also give you more options for audio recording. Cheap cameras usually do not have any way to plug in a supplemental microphone which is very important for quality audio.
    The actual picture quality on inexpensive cameras can be pretty good, some even on par with the high dollar cameras. Especially if you make sure and light your shots well, the actual picture quality of a cheap camera can be very good.
    Renting an expensive camera might be a better option than buying. It just depends on your budget and future needs.
    I hope this helps you!

  7. Thanks for your explanation, but just to confuse everyone… MPEG is not a video format instead the container which holds it…

  8. Hi Stephan.
    Yes, the very nature of container formats do make it seem more confusing. Seems like most people call mpeg and other container formats a format. avi is the same.

  9. This overview of the various video formats provides beginners with a useful platform to explore these formats further, so that they could appreciate them and learn when to use what format.

    Great comprehensive article.

  10. Lorraine,

    You’ve got some great stuff here!

    What’s that old saying, “video killed the radio star!”

    Keep up the good work!


  11. Lorraine,

    Is the .mov file in its present form optimal for editing with FCP, or would you recommend compressing it first? If so, is there a software that does it best or does the Apple Compressor software suffice? Would compressing it change the type of video file that it is?


  12. Hi Meg.
    Great questions!
    A file you use for editing should always be as crisp, clean and high-res as possible. So if it is practical use .mov files that have not been compressed, or at least not compressed much. Apple compressor software does just about anything you would want. Compression alone does not change the type of video file it is. All file types can be compressed.
    I hope this helps!

  13. excellent article lorraine…..enlightening !….but can u uncompress back from wmv to avi and edit without losing any quality ?

  14. Hi Joker.
    Thanks for your question. A wmv file is not going to look very good. If you convert it to an avi file, that avi file will not look very good either. Converting it to an avi file is not really going to add back quality that was taken out when it was made into a wmv. Once it is an avi, you should be able to edit it within any program without a loss of whatever quality is there. Then of course when you convert it down from an avi, it will lose quality again.
    The long and short of it is starting with a wmv file is not a very good idea, so if you have a choice, begin your project with a higher quality file format.
    I hope this helps!

  15. Hi Lorraine,
    Great article, loved your container analogy for AVI. We still have clients that ask for AVI without being too specific on what codec or type of AVI they want, it gets confusing alright. We use a program called episode to convert from .mov to .avi but does a fairly average job of it. Can you recommend any other good video format conversion programs?


  16. Hi Scott.
    Great to hear from you. I guess they have heard AVI is common and good so they want it! They probably do not really know what they are asking for, just guessing on that. I use the software that comes bundled with Final Cut. Called Conversion. There are so many conversion programs out there and I am not an expert in them all by any stretch, but I have also used MPEG Streamclip a lot, which is for more than MPEG and has always done a great job.
    I hope this helps.

  17. Lorraine

    My camcorder has avchd mode. If I wanted to see very crispy high quality resolution video to video publisher, , what kind of video format should I send them? Uncompress mpeg? Uncompressed .mov?


  18. Hi Evguy.
    Any video truly uncompressed would be a very huge file. Many video programs can not yet handle AVCHD format so you have to convert it to an edit-friendly format before editing. MPEG or .MOV are both accepted commonly by editing programs. AVCHD is based on MPEG4 technology but is of course substantially different.

  19. Hi Lorraine Fantastic explanation on video formats However I have a room full of films on VCR which I have copied to my PC to play about with format conversions just for writing to DVD
    I usually average 3 or 4 films to a standard DVD using VCR to DVD copying however some film lengths are just too long so only get maybe 2 films on a DVD I know I can use one DVD per film but this means more discs to store
    NOw I ask which is the format I neet when using my PC to record my films to DVD for domestic players

  20. Hi Geordie945.
    When you say VCR, so you mean a VHS VCR? VCR actually stands for video cassette recorder so that can be any number of formats but of course the VHS was the most common type of VCR. Standard DVD players take MPEG2 format. At least in the U.S. they do, I notice you live in the UK. They may or may nnot be the same in the UK, I do not really know. The easiest way to do this is to get a direct from VHS to DVD machine. Then you can play the VHS and record it directly onto a DVD without worrying about any of this. If you do not do it this way, you need to play your VHS and run it through a digital converter and then record it onto your hard drive. Then you have to convert it and burn it to DVD. That is a lot of steps. If you get one of the direct from VHS to DVD then it is much easier. But to answer your basic question MPEG2 is the right format for DVD.

  21. Many thanks Lorraine you gave me the answer I was looking for 🙂

    Yes VHS and Betamax were the big sellers here only different formats for visuals were employed Pal her and Hstc or something in the States I believe ?


  22. Hi Geordie
    Glad if I can help! For all video, PAL is the British standard and NTSC is the American standard. That goes beyond VHS and Betamax and applies to all video. That’s one reason why video file formats gets so confusing, the word “format” has shades of meaning.
    VHS beat Beta in the marketplace hands down, but the ironic thing is that beta was a superior format on a technical level. They just didn’t market it as well. The “beta” format morphed into a high end professional format that was similar to home beta but far superior, in part because the same amount of tape that took 20 minutes to run through a pro beta machine took 2 hours to run through a home beta machine. Tape speed had a big influence on quality. Pro beta was a very popular format and virtually dominated the marketplace but home beta was a crash and burn. I never quite understood that!

  23. Hi Lorraine Gal:

    I have been shooting for years and using a Canon S-3 and it puts out .avi format and I like it. Now many cameras use the .MOV format and I wondered why the camera manufactures have chosen this format instead of .avi.
    Lately I have been converting some .MOV videos that friends gave me and mpeg streamclip is the best I have found. I convert from .MOV to .avi and then edit in Premier and sometime in Windows Movie Maker and then upload to Youtube as .wmv.
    Question #2- is there a better way?

    Thanks Skydog Bob

  24. Hi there Skydog Bob!
    Why the manufactures have gone to .mov could be because .mov is a clean-looking format. Could be a marketing deal made with Apple. I do not know. I sure hope it is because .mov is good format. Quicktime has become so common .mov can play anywhere. Personally, I think it is one of the better-looking formats although they tend to be a bit huge. MPEG streamclip is indeed a great conversion tool. I use it myself all the time. It would be easier if you found an edit program that handles .mov. Then you could go straight from your camera into the editor and not have to convert.
    I hope this helps you! Good luck.
    Lorraine Grula

  25. Hi
    I have been recording my family videos using a mini-DV camera. When played back direct from camera to TV the picture quality seems a lot better than when converted to DVD (MPeg2). Now that BD discs are becoming reasonable and I have just purchased a BD Writer for my PC, could you advise which format I shiuld convert to to retain the best image quality? thanks

  26. Hi John.
    The picture quality on a mini DV will indeed be best straight off the tape, uncompressed. Once you convert it to MPEG2 and put it on a disc, it is going to lose a bit. Not much, but a bit. I have not personally worked with blue ray yet, so I am not super familiar with that but I would think the formats recorded by your BD writer would be superior to the mpeg2. Mini DV comes out of the cameras as a DV format keep that if you can.

  27. Wow! What was initially such a confusing topic, I nearly gave up on trying to understand it. After days of research, and attempting to understand video formatting, I finally found your description – THANK YOU!!! Now I feel like a pseudo expert – at least I can participate in a conversation and actually know that what I am contributing is accurate…very groovy!

  28. Hi Lisa.
    That is indeed very groovy! I am glad if this article helped you out. Video file formats confuses lots of people so you are certainly not alone. Thank you for leaving such a nice comment!

  29. Hi folks I just read Lisa Dee’s cimments on video formats Wouldn’t it have been heaven had there been an international standard format in the industry 🙂 But alas it’s all down to commercialism so us lot are left to ponder the issue and if we don’t find people like Lorraine then we’re sunk LOL

    Lorraine without doubt is a genious in my book 🙂

    I feel sorry for the hordes out there who have not yet found this site I hope in my net travels that I have helped some find it as I mention this site everywhere I go

    Many thanks once again Lorraine


  30. Hi Geordie.
    An international standard format would indeed be nice! Not in my lifetime though. Too bad. Thanks for all your nice words but trust me on this one, I am NO genius! But I sure I am flattered that in your book I am. I am always gratified to know that my blog helps people. Thanks for being such a great supporter!

  31. Hey Shhhhhhhhhhhh Lorraine I supposed to know what I talking about lass and Genious you are:)

    Us lot must give you some headaches at times but don’t worry it only that thing between your ears that hurts for a while LOL

    You is one lady loved the world over 🙂

  32. Now Geordie, I do believe that is absolutely the sweetest thing anyone could ever say to me! Thank you my friend! I sure love having so many friends like you all over the world who read my blog. Isn’t the internet a fantastic thing? I wonder how I got so lucky to be able to live and work everyday with online video?

  33. Hi Lorraine
    My video camera’s specification is that it records on MPEG-4 AVC H.264.
    But I’m confused as it specifies both AVCHD and MPEG4.
    To burn on a DVD to playback on home player DVD(MPEG2) and on PCs, which format would you use?

    Similar should I wish to edit before burning on a DVD which programme should I use for my camcorder.

  34. Hi Pepe.
    Is your camera a hybrid? Some new cameras record in multiple formats. That must be what yours is. There should be a way to pick which you want to record in. Check and see if that is it.
    If I were burning a disc for use on a home DVD player I would use MPEG2.
    I hope this helps you!

  35. Lorrain, highly informative article — just one question. When I use a video recorder to transfer a video from tape to DVD, the files come out as VOB files. How do these fit it? I would like to keep the highest quality video possible (file size is not an issue), so what should the VOB files be converted to to make them viewable on the Windows Media Player or Quick Time player? Thanks for your help

  36. Hi John.
    Excellent question! VOB files are quite common. They are based on the MPEG standard and called a “strict subset” of MPEG. I personally have encountered VOB files mostly inside of MPEG2 files. The VOB was actually the video and all the other files inside the MPEG2 were support files. VOB stands for Video OBject. It is a container format that can have video, audio, subtitle and menu information. I have used the free software MPEG Streamclip by Square 5 ( to convert them into other formats. I usually go for .mov (quicktime) because I edit on a Mac.
    I hope this helps you!

  37. Hi Lorraine,
    I am converting VHS tapes to DVD for home movies (capable of watching on television and computers). Which formats would be best to achieve this?
    Thank you, great site,
    Joe Brennan

  38. Hi Joseph!
    MPEG2 would probably be your best bet. Standard DVD players use MPEG2. Computers can usually play a variety of formats including mpeg2. They make machines for this where you put the VHS in one side of the machine and a burnable DVD in the other. Makes it real easy.
    You remind me that I have tons of VHS tapes to convert. I sure need to get around to it someday!
    Good luck!

  39. Hi Lorraine 🙂

    You’re still doing a fantastic job lass
    I just letting you know I didn’t send this bunch of people round asking about AVI etc. but would have done had I known their plight LOL

    Love and sunshine Lorraine


  40. Thanks for that Lorraine,
    I am using Nerovision to edit my film clips (from VHS to disc then into Nervision for editing then to MPEG2) but the files are approx 1Gb to big for the DVD when I try to burn them. What’s the best way to deal with this?
    Thanks again,

  41. Hi Joseph.
    Video files are big, that is their nature. Depending on the length of the clip 1 Gb really is not that large comparatively speaking. To make this work, you could either make the individual clips shorter, decrease their resolution quality which will decrease their file size, or you could find discs that hold more than 1 Gb. That last one seems like the best way to go to me. You can get discs that hold up to 8 Gb. They may even have higher capacity now, you know how those things change everyday!
    I hope this helps you!

  42. Hi Lorraine

    Great explanation but I’m confused and could use your advice.

    I have about 30 miniDV tapes from a camcorder that I want to preserve for backup purposes on hard drive (already burned to DVD using Stuio 9 on an old Windows machine). I also have about 5 (and growing) HD tapes that I want to do the same (and burn to Blu-Ray).

    Using Macs, what are the best programs to do so? Given that Studio 9 is very old should I take those tapes and use new software?

    I bought (before I found your excellent article!) Toast Platinum Pro and an external blu-ray recorder to burn the HD tapes.

    Any help you can provide would be appreciated. Thank you.

  43. Hi Paco!
    So good to hear from you. On a Mac, my personal favorite basic conversion software is MPEG Streamclip. It’s free and very versatile. They have a Mac and a PC version. It does a lot more than MPEG files. It is made by a group called Square 5 and you can get it here.
    You could also try thing Tanbee shareware which youcan download from the apple site. I have never personally used it but it looks good.
    Either of those will work for your mini dvs, which are probably in DV format.
    To do Blu Ray, try Apple Compressor, which currently is version 3.5. That comes bundled with Final Cut Studio and honestly, I am not sure if you can get it a la cart. Blu Ray is such a new format, I do not think you are going to find a freebie.
    I hope this helps you!

  44. MPEG Converter for Mac is the best .MPG Converter Mac OS software to convert various video formats including MPEG4, iPod Touch MPEG4, iPod Nano MPEG4, iPhone Video MPEG4, iPhone Video H.264, Apple TV MPEG4, M4v-MPEG4 and so on. MPEG Converter for Mac can convert popular video formats to be played ony portable devices like iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, Zune, PSP, Video capable MP4 players, etc.

  45. Hi MPEG converter.
    Since you have a free version, I will let your self-serving post and link stand and I will not delete it as spam. I want all my readers to know that is NOT an affiliate link but your product looks good and is certainly relevant to the topic so I will let it stand. Normally sir, if you wish to ADVERTISE on my blog you need to contact me and arrange payment. I am leaving this here for the sake of my readers, if it benefits you too, then count yourself lucky. Ain’t I nice?

  46. Ha ha ha ha Lorraine love that last line to MPEG

    An don’t you dare knock it girl. There’s a lot of us idiots out here would be in a fine mess were it not for you.

    You’re our Video Lifeguard you is 🙂

    Love an sunshine Lass be safe 🙂


  47. Hi again Lorraine,
    Thanks very much for your help. I now have DVD+R 8 x DL discs to use. What is the procedure to get the maximum resolution from VHS tapes to these please.
    Many thanks,

  48. Hi Joby.
    First, make sure you have a high quality VHS machine and set that machine to the fastest running tape speed possible. Most VHS have 3 settings for tape speed. The slower your tape goes the crummier your resolution. Beyond that, precisely what you do depends on what kind of set-up you have for the transfer. The type of disc you use has more to do with storage capacity and/or the ability to record on the disc multiple times. I hope this helps.

  49. Hi Lorraine

    I have just read your article above with real interest. I am trying to produce a 30 minute recruitment video to go on my site for business prospects to view and I really want it to play across all platforms and be as small a file as possible.

    Being a complete novice at this, where do I start. I have a video I shot with my pretty new Panasonic camcorder and I want to convert it for the web and all platforms.

    Any advice would be very helpful. I am running a Macbook Pro with both windows 7 and mac hard drives. I have downloaded stuff like MPEG Streamclip and flip for mac, but am so new I don’t know where to start.

    look forward to hearing from you.


  50. Hi Brian.
    I certainly understand your confusion! You are not alone. Generally speaking, these days MPEG4 is the most universal format for online. It used to be Flash. Flash is still common online, but of course will not play on many of the new phones or tablets. The best way to ensure that your video is playable on as many devices as possible is to have it hosted in a paid account. Many of those paid hosting accounts are such that it automatically detects what kind of device is requesting the video and automatically presents the correct format. This means your video is stored in the hosting account in multiple formats. All that conversion is done for you automatically once you upload your video file. Of course a paid video hosting account can get pricey so the next best thing is to use Easy Video Player and your own Amazon S3 account. Here is a link to a blog review of that.
    I hope this helps you! Good luck.

  51. Hi Brian again!
    Here is a P.S. on a slightly different subject. I notice you say you are producing a 30 minute recruitment video. Novices always tend to think videos need to be 30 minutes, like a standard TV show. My guess is that 30 minutes is way longer than you need and way longer than most people would want to watch. I bet 7-10 minutes is a better time frame. Plus, a 30-minute video can create a large file which might have trouble playing online without lots of buffering. You can fit a ton of info into a 7 minute video if your script is well written. Just thought I’d throw this in.

  52. Hey writer of d article,at one place u wrote that”video players uncompress the compressed video file”. My friend u also said that during compression,some of the information from d video is taken out.
    And by ur decompression concept it wil be that our video player add information back to the compressed video in order to decompress them,which is not true since the iformation once extracted from d video can never come back from a mere player which doesnt know anything about the video.
    Correct m where i m wrong.

  53. Hello Morris.
    You ask a very good question. I believe that the information taken out and is rather generic in nature and some identifying markers are left so therefore the player does not need to “know” anything about the video other than what is left after compression. Now perhaps someone more technical than me could explain it better but that is the basics.

  54. I am capturing decades of home video on a 4TB external hard drive. I hope to edit some of the video in the future, but also want to just play the unedited video on a TV through a computer. I have been capturing in AVI but started to fill up the HD. So I started capturing in MPEG-2, which is much smaller. However, after reading your excellent article, it appears MPEG-2 will require an uncompression step. My first question, once compressed and then uncompressed for editing, will the video resolution/quality be significantly reduced in a DVD final product. Should I just buy another external HD and capture everything in AVI format?

    My second question, I am seriously considering changing to a Mac video editing system because I haven’t been completely satisfied with my PC system. What are the pros and cons to converting AVI or MPEG-2 to .mov?

    Thank you in advance for any information you can provide!

  55. Hi Steve.
    Decades of home movies are priceless! How fun that you have all of that. Of course converting them is not quite as much fun, let’s see if we can hep you out here. 🙂
    MPEG2 plays on a standard DVD player and is a good-looking format, but going back and forth between formats will have some negative effects on quality so I would indeed suggest buying another hard drive.

    The .mov format is also a fine looking format, but does tend to be a bit large. IMHO, .mov is one of the better looking formats but files can be huge. I personally love Mac editing, and your AVIs should play on Mac software. .MOVs will play on virtually any computer since quicktime is now so common and that is a good format for master files.

    I hope this helps. Good luck with your transfer! I have a lot of home movies to transfer myself but have not gotten around to it.


  56. I just got a new phone (Droid DNA) and have a few videos on it that I uploaded to my computer. None of the programs on my computer (windows media player, Divx, Quicktme) wont play them (maybe because they are in the mp4 format?) My old phones videos were fine! Help! 🙂

  57. Hi Mandl
    Bummer! It is always frustrating to upgrade and then have to deal with incompatibilities. How old is your computer? If the software you mention is up to date, it should play an mpeg4. I have quicktime and play many mpeg4s. Your OS would have to be up to date too. Check on those things. These incompatibilities can sometimes be a tad hard to trace because there can be one small hitch in a system that technically, should actually be compatible. I think your best bet for help is to contact the customer service for Droid. They wiould have the exact technical specs for this and I do not. Good luck! I hope you get it worked out.

  58. Hi Lorraine,
    I recently filmed a program at local church, edited it in Wondershare Filmora, and am now trying to save/burn it to a DVD in MPEG2 format, as the church wants to distribute the video to members. The files properties say that it is 11.1GB, while the program says that it’s 5.65GB. I am using a dual layer 8.5GB disc, but it keeps saying the file is too large. Why the discrepancy in file size?


  59. The program files only work in the program they were created in so they are not identical to the other files. Your video is 11.1 gig so does not fit onto the disc. I hope that helps. You might try to either shrink the final size by reconverting it using different settings or getting higher capacity discs.

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