Videos are excellent communication tools and are increasingly being used as a medium for information and entertainment. Therefore, recording high-quality videos is essential to meet your goals.
You need to be familiar with the main formats available so you can evaluate which one will best meet your expectations. Continue reading to learn more.
How to Choose the Best Video Format?
The digital world is becoming increasingly visual, and video content has become an essential part of our online experience. Whether it’s to share important moments, promote products, or disseminate knowledge, choosing the right video format is crucial to ensure a great experience for your target audience. In this article, we will explore the different aspects to consider when choosing the best video format.
What’s the Difference Between Video Format and Resolution?
Video format and resolution are two different concepts that refer to different aspects of a video file.
This refers to the type of video file, such as MP4, MOV, AVI, etc. The video format can determine the video’s compatibility with different players and platforms. Each format can use different codecs (data compression/decompression) to store video and audio data, which can affect the file’s quality and size.
When sharing videos online, it’s crucial to select the correct format to ensure compatibility with the viewers’ devices and the best possible playback quality. Also, the video format can affect search engine optimization (SEO) and website loading speed.
This refers to the amount of detail a video has. Resolution is usually expressed as the number of pixels displayed on the screen, listed as width x height. For example, a 1920×1080 resolution means there are 1920 horizontal pixels and 1080 vertical pixels. The higher the resolution, the more detailed the image. However, higher resolution videos will also require more bandwidth to stream and more storage space.
When choosing a video format, it’s essential to consider compatibility with the devices and platforms on which it will be played. Make sure the chosen format is widely supported by web browsers, mobile devices, and social media platforms you plan to use. This will ensure that your video is accessible to a wider audience.
The video file size can affect the user experience and website loading speed. When choosing a format, consider the resulting file size. Some formats, like MP4, offer efficient compression, reducing the file size without significantly compromising quality. Video compression is a crucial technique to minimize file size, but it should be done carefully to avoid excessive quality loss.
Storage and Distribution
When choosing a video format, consider how it will be stored and distributed. If you plan to use cloud storage services or stream videos, make sure to choose a format compatible with these platforms. Also, consider loading speed and user experience when making videos available for download.
The Main Video Formats
Video formats differ regarding the resources required for their recording and playback. Remember, we’re not discussing technical aspects like FPS (frame rate), types of lenses, shutter speed, and such.
Sometimes, you need to convert the video in some specific program to make it compatible with the application or operating system you usually use.
This is considered a trend in the video production area due to its ability to integrate audio, video, subtitles, filters, and other elements into a single file while still delivering great quality.
Another positive aspect is that MKV is a collaborative format, where users can make their own suggestions for improvements. In this way, the resource is constantly being improved.
It’s recommended for those seeking high definition in their videos. It’s not compatible with Linux, Windows, and MacOS operating systems, but it can be used after installing decoders.
This is one of the oldest and, therefore, most basic formats. Created by Microsoft, it allows playback using only the Windows Media Player.
Videos can have their quality diminished due to data loss that occurs during compression.
WMV/WMA (Windows Media Video/Audio)
This was created to replace AVI. This format is capable of maintaining video quality and is also compatible with YouTube.
Additionally, WMV/WMA allows the video to start playing before it has been fully downloaded, similar to what happens with YouTube.
This is a compact format that makes the download or upload of videos on the internet quite fast.
However, its disadvantage lies precisely in its reduced size, as this ends up impairing the quality of the video.
Without a doubt, this is the most well-known. MP4 is compatible with YouTube and can bundle video, audio, and subtitles into the same file.
It was also developed with the purpose of preserving the quality of videos that are compressed. It does not require installed CODECs, so it becomes a very interesting option.
Developed by Apple, MOV is the rival of AVI. It is compatible with QuickTime Player, its default playback program, and with Windows Media Player.
Its positive edge over its competitor is that, although it compresses videos into very small files, the loss of sound and image quality is much smaller.
This format is most suitable for mobile devices like cell phones. It compresses videos into very small files, thus taking up little storage space and enabling downloads using the minimum mobile data.
The disadvantage is that during compression there is data loss, which makes the video quality lower.
H.265, known as High Efficiency Video Coding or HEVC, is a video compression standard, designed for the latest generation of high-resolution video, supporting resolutions of up to 8192 × 4320, which includes 8K UHD.
With a freely available license, H.265 enhances compression standard efficiency by generating the highest quality images in the smallest possible video file, using only half the bitrate of its predecessor
It significantly reduces bandwidth and storage requirements, but decoding H.265 streams requires more computing power during viewing. It’s a final content delivery file and not recommended for use in video editing, as it demands heavy machine processing in this regard.
Owned by Adobe, this is the ideal format for recording videos for YouTube or any other internet sharing.
It records in high definition, thanks to compatibility with the main operating systems that allow the installation of specific extensions.
Main Video Formats Used by Professionals
Filmmakers prefer high-quality formats like CinemaDNG, Red Raw or Prores Raw over common video formats (like MP4 or AVI) because they offer much more flexibility and quality for professional-level video productions.
High Dynamic Range
High-quality formats have a larger dynamic range than standard video formats, allowing for the capture of more details in highlights and shadows. This leads to richer, more detailed images that can be extensively manipulated in post-production without losing quality.
High-quality formats typically have a greater bit depth, which means they can represent many more colors and shades of gray than standard video formats. A greater bit depth results in smoother gradations and less banding in colors.
Raw formats use lossless or near-lossless compression, which preserves image quality. Common video formats generally use lossy compression, which can introduce artifacts and degrade image quality.
The high-quality, unprocessed data provided by these high-quality formats give filmmakers much more flexibility in post-production. They can adjust color balance, exposure, and other settings as if they were doing it in the camera, but with the benefit of a larger screen and more precise controls.
Archiving and Future-Proofing
High-quality raw formats are also preferred for archiving footage and future-proofing. As technology advances and display resolutions increase, footage shot in high-quality raw formats will still look great on new displays. On the other hand, footage shot in low-quality, highly compressed formats may start to show their limitations.
However, keep in mind that these high-quality formats require more storage space and more powerful hardware for editing. They are typically used in professional settings where the increased cost and complexity are justified by the need for high-quality, flexible footage.
Cineform is a codec that acts as a video encoding format designed for professional video editing, being well recommended for Windows users to upload videos on YouTube.
It is optimized to encode video content with 4K resolution and higher, including support for efficient and smart rendering.
Avid DNxHD is a codec developed by Avid that allows for scaling high-resolution and HD media in the ideal format to fit your workflow while maintaining optimal mastering image quality, from lightweight files with no visible losses. It significantly reduces file sizes, as well as bandwidth and storage requirements, to speed up your production workflow.
It is very user-friendly and easy to use, with the codec obtained by downloading from the Avid website.
And what about the cinema folks, in which digital video format do they record their mega productions? They record in RAW.
What is RAW?
The RAW format is a robust capture method, where the raw output of the data in its entirety without compression from a camera’s image sensor is acquired, as most professionals prefer to shoot raw images due to the high quality of images that the camera sensor can produce.
Being raw or unrefined, the footage remains as it was captured, retaining all details, true colors, and lighting, allowing for considerable modification opportunity.
This format tends to be very large and only a few applications can decode it, due to the lack of codecs that can handle this format, in addition to the enormous need for file storage devices, backup, and processing capacity to work.
Red RAW is a proprietary format developed by Red Digital Cinema Camera Company. Redcode is always RAW, meaning there’s no chroma subsampling or attached color space to the data.
It’s always compressed and does experience some data loss, even with its highest level of compression. This format is subject to the limitations of the FAT32 file system, which is used to support Mac OS and Windows. A drawback of this format is that you cannot exceed 4 GB (1024 MB) in size; if you surpass this limit, a new file will be generated.
The capture of RAW image data maximizes image fidelity and flexibility in editing productions. Red RAW offers adjustable file sizes for superior image quality and lower storage requirements than other codecs.
Since it allows a RAW workflow with non-destructive editing, it’s fully supported by all major software packages like those from Adobe and Apple.
Blackmagic RAW is a codec from Blackmagic Studios. It offers visually lossless compression, wherein the film compression is a much smaller data set that will later be decoded into an image that’s visually identical to the uncompressed data.
It provides high-resolution recording and playback, frame rate, HDR, and showcases a new “Advanced De-Mosaic” process that will eliminate the need for bayer pattern removal and other image processing when accessing the footage on your computer or editing device. This results in ultra-fast capture and playback speeds without sacrificing the post-production flexibility of RAW.
Unlike many other RAW codecs, Blackmagic RAW material is stored as individual clips rather than image sequences. It’s multi-threaded and takes advantage of GPU acceleration.
ProRes RAW is a RAW recording codec that offers post-production flexibility, manageable file sizes, and smooth playback in editing software. The codec applies near-lossless compression, adjusting the bitrate to achieve the desired quality.
There are two compression levels within the codec, ProRes RAW and ProRes RAW HQ. File sizes can be kept smaller than conventional codecs, while still offering enhanced dynamic range and detail in capturing raw sensor data.
The characteristics and dynamic range of ProRes RAW make it ideal for high dynamic range (HDR) projects.
Cinema DNG (Digital Negative) is a format developed by Adobe and is compatible with RAW recording. The format’s disadvantage is a longer workflow that requires powerful workstations, and it has limited compatibility with many brands, such as Canon, Nikon, Samsung, and Sony.
The best format for recording videos will depend on your objectives and resources. Nowadays, sound and image quality play a significant role in satisfying viewers.
After all, streaming platforms and a good portion of YouTube videos already have this edge.
Therefore, if your goal is to create a high-quality video, prioritize formats that preserve the original properties of the recording and yield a more professional effect.
Remember, the more compression a codec imposes on the video, the more challenging it will be for your computer to decompress it during editing, which could cause complications.
That’s why here at Olive Tree Films, we prefer the ProRes format created by Apple. While it’s a bit larger and takes up more space on HDDs, it allows for smoother editing and preserves image quality excellently. This format is the best for video recording, and it’s a favorite among audiovisual professionals.
If you can’t use Apple’s ProRes codec, consider recording videos in H.264 with an MP4 extension on cameras or smartphones as an alternative. Avoid files with unusual extensions that require conversion and are not widely accepted by editing software.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below!