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 Post subject: best movie format
PostPosted: January 4th, 2014, 5:43 am 
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I am adding music to a short film and have to convert the editing software file to a movie format. Which is the best: AVI, MP4, MOV, MPEG, or WMV? I may host the film on my website, or upload to youtube, not sure yet.


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 Post subject: Re: best movie format
PostPosted: January 4th, 2014, 7:52 pm 
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All the things you mentioned are container formats.
These are pretty much interchangeable within a couple of minutes and without reencoding the whole movie.

The most-widely supported format on the web and on mobile systems is h.264.
An alternative for legacy systems would be MPEG-2, which is the best Codec that is supported out of the box in Windows XP, if you really care about that.

If you're up for some experiments, you should check out VP-8 / VP-9 or Theora in the WebM container.
In "the scene" the most-widely used container these days is Matroska aka MKV (that's just the three letter filename ending in Windows).

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 Post subject: Re: best movie format
PostPosted: January 5th, 2014, 5:19 am 
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Mastacheata wrote:
An alternative for legacy systems would be MPEG-2, which is the best Codec that is supported out of the box in Windows XP
I listed the only options available. Do you mean MPEG is the best of them?


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 Post subject: Re: best movie format
PostPosted: January 5th, 2014, 2:23 pm 
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Again, these are only container formats. Without knowing what you plan to put into that container in terms of Video Codec, it's hard to give a recommendation.

Mobile Devices and modern computers are best served with h.264 in either mkv (matroska) or MP4 containers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.264

Legacy devices (computers with WinXP and older) are best served with MPEG-2 in either MPEG or AVI (audio video interleaved) containers (a more exotic container is MPEG-TransportStream or MPEG-ProgramStream, but these should work as well). Almsot every computer can play that, but smartphones and tablets running Android or iOS won't play that out of the box. (Android can play it using 3rd party apps, but there's no hardware decoder speeding things up like with H.264)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MPEG-2

For older "feature phones" you best serve 3GP.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3GP_and_3G2



MPEG can contain either MPEG-1 or MPEG-2

MP4 can contain XviD, DivX (which are essentially complying to the same MPEG4 Part 2 standard) as well as H.264 and H.263.

MKV aka Matroska can contain almost anything.

AVI and WMV/WMA/ASF may contain anything supported either by default in Windows or supported through Video for Windows / DirectShow Codecs.

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 Post subject: Re: best movie format
PostPosted: January 11th, 2014, 6:24 am 
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Should I distill from what you are saying that MP4 will be the most usable format between mobiles and PCs, that some mobiles won't play MPEG with native media players?


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 Post subject: Re: best movie format
PostPosted: January 11th, 2014, 9:17 am 
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MP4 with h.264 for modern smartphones and PCs (Win Vista and upwards, or with 3rd party software like VLC), MP4 with 3GPP for old mobile phones
MPEG with MPEG-2 or MPEG-1 is going to work on any PC since Windows 98SE, but only on a select few mobile phones.

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 Post subject: Re: best movie format
PostPosted: January 11th, 2014, 11:02 am 
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Mastacheata wrote:
MP4 with h.264 for modern smartphones and PCs (Win Vista and upwards, or with 3rd party software like VLC).
h.264 has numerous configuration options. For best quality and interchangeability, should I pick 1920x1080?


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 Post subject: Re: best movie format
PostPosted: January 11th, 2014, 10:26 pm 
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the resolution basically only affects the resulting filesize.
If you're not targeting 4K tvs and cinemas, fullhd ahould be fine for every device that supports h.264 at all.

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 Post subject: Re: best movie format
PostPosted: January 12th, 2014, 5:33 am 
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Mastacheata wrote:
If you're not targeting 4K tvs and cinemas, fullhd ahould be fine for every device that supports h.264 at all.
I want it to be as widely compatible as possible. h.264 has two HD configurations, 1280x720 and 1920x1080. Which is more widely compatible?


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 Post subject: Re: best movie format
PostPosted: January 12th, 2014, 8:16 pm 
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AFAIK the resolution really only affects the filesize, but both HD resolutions (720p and 1080p) need to be supported by any device that is certified against the standard. The difference in performance should be minimal as h.264 is usually decoded by a dedicated chip or using GPGPU computing. If the target platform really needs to decode h.264 in pure software on the main CPU, most ARM based devices (smartphones) would fail completely and anything older than a Core2Duo by Intel or Athlon64 XII will have huge problems decoding either in realtime.

1080p should be fine. If you're shooting for a lower filesize, go with 720p.
This should not affect general compatibility at all.


P.S.: H.264 knows way more options than just 1280x720 or 1920x1080. It can also have much higher resolutions (4K/UHD), it can have different framerates, it can show either half pictures or full pictures in every frame (thus reducing the bandwidth / second by half)
Just take a look at the x264 encoder's options to get an insight on what all is possible to modify while still adhering to the very same video codec standard.

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