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This is a section of our article on file formats explained that describes different video file formats. Learn what powers your iPod and iPhone videos and and why you’re able to watch feature length films on such a little device. We cover mpeg, avi, Quick Time, FLV, mp4, and RM (Real Media). If you have a question about a video file format that you don’t see listed here, please comment below.
The MPEG file format was first introduced in 1993 by the Moving Picture Expert Group as a method of delivering both audio and video data by encoding it at the quality level of a CD. MPEG files are generally not preferred currently due to the creation of much higher quality video file extensions that allow for higher quality audio and picture production. The Moving Picture Expert Group is continually working to improve upon this coding format and as a result they have currently released MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, MPEG-7, MPEG-21, MPEG-A, MPEG-B, MPEG-C, MPEG-D, MPEG-E, MPEG-V, MPEG-M and MPEG-U. The latest of these releases was MPEG-U which was released in 2010.
The AVI file format is also known as the Audio Video Interleaved format and made its way on to the market in 1992 when it was released by Microsoft. AVI files give playback of audio and video simultaneously but they also allow for split streaming, however, this is not commonly utilized. The AVI format is not as commonly utilized as other video file formats due to the fact that they are slow on keeping up with changes in technology and as such playback is often interrupted or affected by an inability for the AVI format to function properly.
The QuickTime file format, also known as QTFF is a file format that was developed by Apple for use with the QuickTime application. Due to the structure of QuickTime files and the QuickTime software this type of video file format is often utilized by video editors because it is conducive to restructuring and editing.
FLV files are also referred to as Flash or F4V files and are video files that utilize Adobe Flash Player to stream content via the internet. The biggest reason that individuals utilize the Flash format for videos is that it enables them to embed videos within pages and it is viewable by most operating systems. Flash file formats provide higher quality video than many other file formats; however, they require a lot of resources to enable the video to play flawlessly making this an inconvenient file type for older computer systems. Flash is a popular method of creating data among animators and web designers because of the creative freedom in creating SWF files as well as the ability to somewhat protect data by embedding it via the Flash player.
MP4 files, also known as MPEG-4 files are versatile files that are able to not only broadcast audio and video but they are also able to broadcast images and subtitles as well. MP4 files can be streamed via the internet like many other video files. As mentioned above in the audio file section, the audio only aspect of MP4 files is referred to as M4A; however, when referring to audio and video the file extension is MP4. MP4 files are common among Apple users particularly those with iPhones and iPod devices.
RM files are also known as Real Media files and is a format of video utilized by RealNetworks to be utilized on RealVideo and RealAudio. This method of delivering video content is utilized to deliver streaming content via the net.