Deciding on the ‘right’ video format to use when you encode a video can be a bit tricky. In fact, to be perfectly honest there are two ways that you could go about.
The first option is to figure out which container and codec you want to use by evaluating their compatibility, compression, and features. As you can imagine that can be very time-consuming, and trying to figure out which codecs are supported by your device may be difficult.
The second option is far easier, however, and it involves deciding on the video format based on how you intend to use the video. In other words, if you were going to:
- Upload the video to online video platforms or social media you would want to use the recommended format and settings of the platform in question (e.g. YouTube’s recommended settings). Most online video platforms prefer MP4 with H.264, but there are a few exceptions.
- Publish HTML5 video you could choose between Ogg with Theora, WebM with VP9, and MP4 with H.264. However you would have to factor in browser support, in which case the only universal format is MP4 with H.264. At times you may want to optimize the videos by encoding multiple versions in different formats for different browsers.
- Distribute videos via file transfer or other means would require a format that is as widely-compatible as possible with most devices and platforms. Currently, that role falls to MP4 with H.264, though other older formats such as MPEG-4 or MPEG-2 can fit the role as well.
- Burn a video DVD really only allows for one format: MPEG-2 that follows strict DVD specifications. Other formats aren’t compatible with the majority of DVD players and you may have difficulty viewing them.
- Compress the video as much as possible for a specific device would require a format with good compression that is supported by that device. It is best to use H.264 as a starting point, and then check if HEVC (H.265) is supported by the device. Further optimization can be based on the features that you require, and a versatile format such as MKV can be a good option.
Overall that should cover most of the common ways in which you’re likely to use your video. As you can see in each case there are certain formats that are better than others – the safest of which being MP4 with H.264.
It should be noted that you can convert and transcode the video format later on if need be. To do that you’ll need a video converter, and for example, you could use Movavi Video Converter if you need to convert MKV to MP4 to make it more compatible.
By choosing the right format based on how the video is going to be used, you should be able to figure out the best option more quickly. However keep in mind that new formats may eventually replace some of the formats mentioned above – so you will want to stay up to date, just in case.