Video Formats Decoded: Unleashing the Power of Optimal Playback

Reading time: 9 min read
Andre Oeontoro
Written by
Andre Oeontoro

Updated · Oct 25, 2023

Andre Oeontoro
Joined October 2023 | Twitter LinkedIn
Andre Oeontoro

Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps bus... | See full bio

April Grace Asgapo
Edited by
April Grace Asgapo


April Grace Asgapo
Joined June 2023 | LinkedIn
April Grace Asgapo

April is a proficient content writer with a knack for research and communication. With a keen eye fo... | See full bio

Techjury is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Video Decoding

Photo by Sanjeev Nagaraj on Unsplash

55% of people worldwide watch videos every day. With the help of technology, the realm of video has undergone a mesmerizing evolution. People witnessed the golden age of VHS in the ’80s. Now, the cutting-edge wonders of 4K Ultra HD have become mainstream. 

From bulky magnetic tapes to sleek digital files, the video format evolution has changed how visual content is captured, stored, and experienced. 

Each video format has its own pros and cons. Some prioritize quick loading times through smaller file sizes, while others go for superior quality. Whether you use the video for marketing, entertainment, or educational purposes, the well-thought-out format will give your audiences the best viewing experience.

However, how do you know which video types cater to your audiences best? Dive into an array of video formats—along with their advantages and drawbacks.

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • Selecting a suitable video format is crucial, as it directly impacts the quality, compatibility, and distribution of your visual content.
  • Understanding your audience, their viewing devices, and the platforms where your content will be consumed is essential for choosing the most suitable format.
  • Finding the right balance between video quality and file size is important. Some formats excel in quality but result in larger files, while others prioritize smaller sizes with some quality trade-offs.
  • If you plan to edit or customize your videos extensively, choose a format that aligns with your editing software and workflow for a smoother production process.
  • Opting for widely supported and industry-standard formats can ensure the longevity and accessibility of your content, making it easier to adapt to future platforms and technologies. 

Choosing the Right Video Formats: Why Does It Matter?

Videos have been a valuable medium for different purposes. 66% of people consider videos a source of information, and  96% of them even use videos as product references when purchasing. This is why choosing the right format for your visual content is vital.

The selection of a well-chosen video format goes far beyond technical considerations. It is the key that unlocks the true potential of visual storytelling and shapes the impact your content will have on audiences. 

Why does it matter in the first place?

  • Elevate the overall quality and aesthetic appeal of your content.

The format you choose influences how your story unfolds before the viewer's eyes. Whether you aim to create breathtaking cinematic masterpieces or engaging social media snippets, the choice of format directly impacts the visual and auditory elements that bring your vision to life.

For example, observe how video quality made the ad below better by making the artwork more detailed and visible: - Moving In from oddfellows on Vimeo.

  • Longevity and future-proofing of the content

Opting for widely supported and industry-standard formats can safeguard your content's accessibility and usability in the long run. It allows for easy migration to future platforms, prevents obsolescence, and ensures that your creations stand the test of time.

  • Efficiency in content distribution

Choosing a format that strikes the right balance between file size and quality helps you with a more efficient distribution without compromising the integrity of the content. 

Whether you're delivering videos through online platforms, streaming services, or email marketing campaigns, optimizing your video formats can streamline the distribution process and enhance the overall accessibility of your content.

To better understand the relationship between file sizes and video quality, check out the video below:

  • Optimize the viewing experience across various platforms and devices.

Compatibility is paramount in an interconnected digital landscape where content is consumed on a myriad of screens. Different formats cater to specific platforms, ensuring seamless playback, quick loading times, and compatibility with the targeted devices. 

Adapting your video format to the intended viewing environment means ensuring your content reaches its audience in an intended manner, enhancing engagement and reducing potential viewing frustrations.

YouTube is one of the biggest video-sharing platforms. Almost ​​3.7 million new videos are uploaded on YouTube daily—all in different formats. You can upload videos in formats like MOV, AVI, MP4, ProRes, HEVC, WebM, and more. 

The choice of video formats holds an immense significance that should not be underestimated. Below is a breakdown of five video formats you can use with their pros and cons.

#1. MP4

MP4 is one of the most popular video file formats because of its universal compatibility. It can be played on most devices. MP4 is also the go-to format for TV, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, and other websites. Its compatibility with devices and platforms makes it accessible to a larger audience.

With this format, you can play high-quality videos with a small file size. Most marketing videos, like animated explainers, tutorials, and customer testimonials, opt for this format as it balances video quality and file size. 

Although MP4 files boast small file sizes, the compression required during saving can significantly demand your computer's resources. When viewers engage with these videos, real-time decompression is necessary to achieve optimal quality—which adds to the processing load.

💡Did You Know?

MP4 videos can store metadata information like title, writer, copyright, etc. They can also come with subtitles and chapter markers. These attributes make the MP4 format suitable for professional video production and distribution.

#2. MOV

MOV started as a proprietary format developed by Apple for the QuickTime framework before it gradually evolved into a more versatile and widely adopted video format.

One of MOV's notable strengths lies in its flexibility. It accommodates both standard-definition and high-definition video resolutions, making it suitable for various projects. Its support for multiple audio tracks and sophisticated metadata capabilities offer enhanced control and organization of multimedia elements within a single file. 

MOV’s versatility has made the format an excellent choice for video editing workflows, where flexibility and robustness are essential. However, once editing is complete, you must compress and format the video for the web, which takes up time and memory space.

Pro Tip

If you have to share MOV files on different platforms, it is best to convert them to more widely supported formats like MP4 to avoid compatibility issues. If you don’t have a trusted converter app yet, check out what TechJury experts say about Movavi Video Editor and its features. 

#3. AVI

Audio Video Interleave (or AVI) format stands tall as a champion of high-quality audio. Developed by Microsoft, it works with nearly every browser on Windows, Mac, and Linux. 

Whether you're a music enthusiast, a filmmaker, or a professional working in the audio industry, the AVI format offers an opportunity to showcase the subtleties, dynamics, and richness of sound with remarkable precision.

However, since it combines visual and audio best quality, AVI videos have larger sizes than other formats. The large file size consumes more storage space and requires more bandwidth for uploading or streaming. 

#4. WMV

Another video format developed by Windows is Windows Media Video or WMV. Compared to AVI, WMV is specifically designed to optimize video compression and streaming capabilities within the Windows environment. 

This video format utilizes advanced compression algorithms developed by Microsoft, enabling efficient storage and transmission of video content. It also offers extensive support within the Windows ecosystem, seamlessly integrating with Windows Media Player and other Windows-based applications.

That said, WMV files work only on Windows OS, which can be a hassle when collaborating with users who utilize different operating systems.

📝 Note

YouTube has not supported WMV files since its September 2021 update. However, you can convert your video to another file format like MP4. You can also opt for viewing the video in player apps like Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, or VLC. 

#5. WebM

Web Media File or WebM (also known as HTML5) is an open-source video file format developed by Google as HTML5 grew in popularity. Created by the search engine that can execute 105,00 searches daily, the common use of WebM format is for embedding videos on websites.

As an open-source format, WebM brings transparency, accessibility, and flexibility to the world of video embedding. It embraces the collaborative efforts of a diverse community of developers, ensuring continuous improvement and innovation. 

The major drawback of this video format is its relatively lower level of support compared to more widely adopted video formats. While WebM is compatible with major web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, some older or less commonly used browsers like Internet Explorer and Safari do not support WebM playback.

How to Choose the Right Video Format?

Here are some key steps to help you decide on the format of your next video content:

1. Understand your requirements

Define your specific needs and goals for the video content. Consider factors like intended audience, platform or device compatibility, desired quality, file size limitations, and intended distribution channels.

2. Assess platform and device compatibility

Determine your target platforms and devices. Consider the compatibility of different formats with the platforms and devices to ensure seamless playback and optimal user experience.

3. Consider video quality and resolution

A 2-minute HD video on YouTube already takes 1.5 minutes to upload, so evaluate the quality and resolution of your content. Different formats support varying levels of video quality, so tread between file size and visual fidelity that aligns with your requirements.

4. Evaluate compression and file size

Always assess the compression capabilities of different formats and their impact on file sizes. Balancing video quality with a manageable file size is crucial for efficient storage, transmission, and streaming.

5. Consider editing and post-production needs

Evaluate the compatibility of video formats with your editing software or post-production workflow. Some formats offer better support for editing features, codecs, or specific video effects, which can be important if extensive editing or customization is required.

Wrap Up

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all video format. Each video format has its own characteristics to fulfill specific needs and cater to different platforms. 

Understanding the strengths and limitations of each format empowers content creators to make informed decisions, tailoring their choice to the intended audience, platform compatibility, video quality requirements, and distribution channels. 

With all those points above, now you can understand which formats are the most suitable for your videos and audiences.

Video Format FAQs.

What is the best video format for mobile?

MP4 is considered the best format for videos on mobile due to its broad compatibility and small file size.

What is the best video format for Instagram?

According to Adobe, the best video format for Instagram is MP4. The format does not affect the resolution much, and its compact file size makes the video more playable on the platform.

Can you compress MP4 files without losing quality?

Yes, you can still maintain the high-quality resolution of your videos when compressing MP4 files. However, this also depends on the compression settings you picked for the file.


Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published.