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How to Choose the Best Video Format

Choosing the ‘best’ video format is rarely as easy as it sounds. In most cases the ‘best’ format is a compatible format that provides the best compression – but there are exceptions to that as well.

Instead of tying yourself into knots trying to figure out the best format for an individual device however, an easier approach is to choose the best format based on how you intend to use the video:

  • Upload to online streaming platforms

If the video is to be published on online streaming platforms or social media, you should simply follow the recommended format and settings of that platform. For example you can check YouTube’s recommended upload settings which prescribe using MP4 with H.264.

  • Publish HTML5 videos

To publish HTML5 videos you can choose between WebM with VP8 or VP9, Ogg with Theora, or MP4 with H.264 – but you need to factor in browser support as well. That is why MP4 with H.264 is the ‘safe’ option, though versions in WebM can be created as well so long as the former is available as a fallback.

  • Distribute video files

When distributing video files the main task of the format is to ensure compatibility so that it can be viewed on the device of any recipient. In that regard the best option is MP4 with H.264.

  • Compress video files

If you need to compress videos to conserve storage space or bandwidth, you could consider using HEVC and checking whether the device or platform the video will be viewed on supports it. In the event that it does not, MP4 with H.264 is probably the next best option.

  • Edit videos

Videos that are being stored while still in post-production are best left in the format that they are in. Technically it is best to edit videos that are in RAW or lossless formats, but the requirements to do so are high.

  • Burn video DVDs

The video DVD standard requires that video files use the MPEG-2 format. Aside from that it has other specifications that must be adhered to as well in terms of the resolutions, frame rates, and video bitrate.

The list above should cover most of the ways in which you are likely to want to use videos. It should be noted that the formats mentioned may eventually be supplanted by others however.

For now it should make it a whole lot easier to choose the best video format. Once you do you can use Online Video Converter if you need to convert the format of any of your videos. It will let you easily convert videos via the web-based app, and you can follow the guide here for further instructions.

If you are unsure which format is best, you may have noticed that the MP4 with H.264 format is generally a ‘safe’ option to use. While it may not be optimal in some cases, you should have no trouble playing it on any device or platform due to its almost-universal support.

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