The Basics of Video Files

knowing the different video filesMP4, AVI, FLV, MOV, etc. – the list of video formats doesn’t seem to end. Sometimes it gets confusing as to what file you’ll have to put on your player. When this happens, you’ll have to download free video converting software like Handbrake to change the format of your file, and you can get confused in the process. This is why even the least techie gadget user should learn about video files and their formats.

Every video file in your computer is just another set of data. It has its own parts and versions. To understand these formats, you’ll have to first dissect the anatomy of a video file. Consider a video file as a library that has books created by different authors.

Multimedia Container

This part of your video file holds the tracks of audio and video. It’s like a bookshelf that holds multiple books. Common multimedia containers include Apple QuickTime’s MOV, Microsoft’s AVI, MPEG MP4, and Adobe’s flash video (FLV or F4V, depending on the version).

Compression scheme

Each audio and video track is summarized, in some sense, to a compression scheme. Think of it as the language the book is written. Some video players will understand a number of languages, while others will only understand one. Do note that some videos can be uncompressed, but it will take much more space on your hard drive. DV, H.264, and MPEG2 are just some of the usual compression schemes.


Now this refers to who is the author of the book. In a more technical definition, the codec is the specific software that encoded and compressed the data into one cohesive file. There are different ways to compress a file with the same compression scheme, hence the presence of many codecs. These aren’t that popular because codecs are specific programs. These don’t have much of an effect on the workflow, though some codecs provide better quality output and faster processing times.

The next time your player can’t play a particular file, check the format if it’s compatible with the device. Most of these cases are just because of wrong formats used in wrong players. To keep this from happening, always keep a handy video converting software on your computer. This way, you can have access to all these videos in whatever format they need to be anytime.