Posted by on March 23, 2012

As technology evolves, there is an ever-increasing number of file types for distributing your video. So, which is which? Which file type is best for each project? And what do all those lettered file extensions stand for, anyway?  To help better understand them, we’ve come up with a primer of a few commonly used file types to help you weed through the many, many options available. These are just some of the many – and the preferences and uses are constantly changing.

Extension Stands for Best for…
MOV/QuickTime QuickTime Developed by Apple, but supported on both Windows and Apple computers. For movies with sound.
WMV Windows Media Video Streaming and downloading from the web; compression; video on Windows computers.It can be anywhere from low-quality to high-def video depending on the compression.
MPEG4/H264 Moving Picture Experts Group 4 Streaming and downloadable web content as well as broadcast content. Has a higher compression. H264 also comes in an “Apple version,” which is used for high-quality video.
MPEG Moving Picture Experts Group There is a variety of MPEG formats. MPEG1 is mainly made for PowerPoint presentations and web-based video. MPEG2 is mainly for creating DVDs and broadcast content.
AVI Audio/Visual Interleaved Storing and playing back movie clips with sound on Windows PCs. Considered a much older format and not used as often – doesn’t compress as well as newer formats.
FLV/SWF Flash video Online videos using Adobe Flash Player.
3GP Third Generation Partnership Project Video generated on 3G mobile phones.

We generally steer clients away from using AVI, since it’s an older, less efficient file type; the same goes for MPEG1. Flash (FLV/SWF) is not really supported anymore in the video world (you can’t even see a Flash website on an Apple portable device!), so we try to find other options for those videos too. We’ve noted that MOV/QuickTime is the preferred file type at Tri-Marq, but we can convert any file types if they are a different format.

In coming weeks, check back to see our discussion as we get more in depth about video, including what you really want to know: Just what can we upload to YouTube??