Video Formats

Video Formats Explained

Posted on July 1, 2013 ยท Posted in Video Production

A video format is basically the package you put your video in. The codec (short for compression/decompression) describes how that’s encoded. The most common formats are Microsoft’s AVI, and Apple’s MOV, plus WMV and MPEG plus a few others.

As you compress a file, similar tones are replaced with one colour, which reduces the information and the file size. The more you compress, the more subtle changes in colour are lost. This is most noticeable with black. Compress a dark shot with subtle shadows and highlights, and you start to lose these elements. It’s an endless battle when putting films online. you want to maintain quality, but the file needs to be small enough to stream.

As i use Adobe Premiere and After Effects on a MAc, I use MOVs for delivery. Change the file and the program automatically relinks it. I mainly work with MOVs for delivery and MPEG4 for web or FTP uploads, but sometimes clients want AVIs or WMVs.

If you got footage in different formats with different codecs, it’s best to convert them to your suite’s native format and use just one codec. I turn all my files into MOVs, usually with a ProRes codec, because i feel MOVs with an H.264 codec really stick in Premiere. However, you do need to be careful when mixing two or more codecs – they’ll often produce slightly different tones, which can be difficult to fix.

It’s important to understand frame rates, too, Europe (including the UK) uses PAL, which is 25 frames per second, whereas NTSC is 29.97. if your working on a film for the US market, you’ll need to work in NTSC or it’ll run slightly slow. Also if you use NTSC footage on a PAL timeline, you’ll end up with your footage jumping, so convert it to the right frame rate.

For slow motion, shoot at 25 frames per second or higher. the shot is recorded with twice as many frames, so you can slow it down by 50 percent and get nice , smooth slow-mo.