Are you trying to figure out what video format you should be using when you encode a video? Maybe you want to make sure your video can be played on a certain device and are looking to transcode it into the right format?

Trying to choose the ‘right’ format for a video may appear complicated, but there are a few easy tips that will set you on the right track:

  • Figure out how the video is going to be viewed

Before you look at formats, you should take a step back and figure out how the video is going to be viewed. Are you going to upload it to an online platform, and if so – which one? Are you going to distribute it randomly to various people or is it going to be watched on a specific device or platform?

At the end of the day the ‘right’ format will depend completely on how the video will be used – which is why it is important that you hammer that out right from the start.

  • Weigh compression against compatibility

As you go over your options, you should keep in mind the fact that newer codecs will generally compress your video to smaller file sizes while maintaining the same quality – but they are less widely-supported. For example the H.265 codec can reduce the file size of H.264 videos by about 50%, but doesn’t enjoy the same close to universal support.

In most cases you should select a format with the best compression that is still going to be compatible with the devices that you want to view it on. However if you are going to be distributing the video and want it to be generally compatible, the compression should take a back seat to that consideration.

  • Always use the recommended settings of online platforms

If you’re going to be uploading your video to any online platform, you should look up its recommended settings – and follow them. For example YouTube’s recommended settings call for MP4 with H.264.

Although the platform may support other formats, it is more than likely to transcode any videos that you upload in other formats to its recommended format. That isn’t ideal, as each time you transcode a video you risk losing a bit of data – and that can eventually start to add up.

Ideally you should encode your video directly in the format that you’re going to be using, but at times you may need to encode it in one format and then transcode it to others later. If that is the case you should always try to use your PC or Mac video converter to transcode the original video directly, so that the video doesn’t lose too much data over time.

By this point you should have a pretty good idea how to choose the right format for a video – so what are you waiting for? Start looking at the formats that would best suit your video based on how it is going to be used, and take things from there.

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