How much do you really know about video formats? For most people the answer is really not that much – and in some cases, they may have several misconceptions about them.
While understanding the technical side of video formats can be confusing, there are four main things that you need to know about video formats:
File extensions won’t give you the full picture
One of the main misconceptions about video formats is that they are the same as the file extension – which simply isn’t true. The extension of a video file represents just part of the format that is known as the container, but there is another part as well that is just as important: The video codec.
To put it simply even if some videos have the same file extension they may not be encoded in the same video format.
Video codecs compress the video
As mentioned previously part of the video format is the codec that is used to store the video data more efficiently. To do that it uses algorithms that compress the video and reduce the amount of storage space that it takes up.
Some video codecs are able to compress videos more efficiently than others, allowing them to reduce the file size more while maintaining the same quality. For example, the H.265 (HEVC) codec can compress an H.264 video to about 50% of its previous file size at the same quality.
Most (common) video formats use lossy compression
Technically compression can either be lossless or lossy – but most common video formats that you’re likely to encounter will use the latter. Essentially that means that some data that is considered redundantly is discarded when it is compressed in order to make the file size smaller.
The reason why most video formats use lossy compression is that otherwise, the file size would still be too large for practical use. However lossy compression will affect the video quality, especially if the same file is compressed multiple times.
Videos need to be decoded in order to be viewed
To watch a video that is stored in a particular format, the data needs to first be decoded (i.e. uncompressed). That is why the video codec needs to be supported in some way by the device or platform so that it can be decoded.
If the video codec is not supported, you will not be able to view the video. In some cases, an error may show up stating that the video is using an unsupported format or file type, or in others, it may just be displayed as a blank screen (possibly with the audio being played).
While you could download the codec that you need in some cases, and easier option may be to use Online Video Converter. It will let you convert M4V to MP4 online as well as various other formats – quickly and easily.
By this point, you should understand video formats and what they actually do a whole lot better. More importantly, any misconceptions you may have had about them should have been cleared up.
Make no mistake video formats are important, especially due to how widely-used videos are becoming. Understanding them is key if you want to be able to manage videos more effectively and without running into any issues.
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