The most popular video format is perhaps mp4, given its flexibility and versatility in playing well across platforms. Also does very well in terms of streaming.

The digital media world can leave us bewildered, particularly when dealing with video. If you have tried uploading a video to youtube, you will know that there a number of formats that the service can accept to show off to the world.

Listed below are some of the most popular video file formats.  Remember that each format has a particular utility. We would do well to

3g2: An audio, video format to be delivered over 3G or the next generation phones. It is designed to deliver audio, video files over the internet and was derived fromQuickTime.

AVI: Stands for Audio Video Interleave. Files of this format have an ‘.avi’ extension. It was developed by Microsoft and has become a popular format. It runs on a number of different systems like Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix and is supported by all of the most popular web-browsers.

flv: Video format developed by Adobe Systems. Flash Video has been accepted as the default online video format by many sites. Notable users of it include YouTube,metacafe, etc.

m4v: A file format developed by Apple for its iTunes. Requires QuickTime for playback.

mov: Commonly associated with Apple and the QuickTime. It was developed by Apple which also developed the QuickTime Player, it is compatible with both the Microsoft and Mac platforms. MOV files are capable of storing two or more tracks which can be video, audio, text, graphics or effects. This is also a popular format for editing video.

mpeg-2: Yet another very popular file format that is used for DVDs and satellite and cable broadcast purposes. Such files are denoted by a ‘.mpg’ extension.

mp4: Is an abbreviation of MPEG-4. This is perhaps the most popular format these days. Can play on several platforms including mobiles, desktops, tabs etc and is the most sought after since it requires lesser bandwidth, particularly when using with internet. Follows that this can be quite useful when streaming video. mp4 is also popular since most media players in the market today can play this format.

wmv: These video files contain audio developed by Microsoft. These files can be played on a variety of video players on both Mac and PC machines.

(Video courtesy: Tuts+ Motion Graphics on 

For more details on other file formats and video compression techniques, look out for the second edition of Video Production, Oxford University Press.

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