What Is a Video File Format

A file format is a structure that you can use to store the information of a computer file. As for video file format, it is a type of file format that mainly contains digital video data. Including video format, a video file normally consists of the following elements:

Codec: The protocol for encoding and decoding video signals. It is used to write and read the file.

Container Format: Simply known as "format". It defines how the file metadata and data are structured in the file.

Video/Audio Signal: The actual video and audio data, which includes frame size, aspect ratio, frame rate, bitrate, and audio sample rate.

There are a lot of video formats for saving videos, such as MP4, AVI, and MOV. Here are some common video file formats you may use in daily life. And most of them are supported by our media products, such as Video Converter Ultimate.

Video File Formats

Format Developed by Video Coding format(s) Audio Coding format(s) Description
MP4 Moving Picture Experts Group H.264, H.265, MPEG-4 Part 2, MPEG-2, MPEG-1 Advanced Audio Coding, MP3, others A multimedia file that can save a movie, a video clip, subtitles, images, and metadata. It is one of the most popular formats for online video streaming.
MOV Apple many AAC, MP3, others A common video file type for storing a movie, a video clip, or a TV show. It supports high-quality video and is often saved in the QuickTime File Format.
MKV Matroska any any Saved in the Matroska multimedia container format. It supports many audio and video codecs. It can also include SRT, SSA, USF, or VobSub subtitles.
AVI Microsoft any any Saved in the Audio Video Interleave (AVI) multimedia container format. It supports various codecs, such as DivX and XviD.
M4V Apple H.264 AAC, Dolby Digital A MPEG-4 file that can store video from the Apple iTunes store. And it is similar to the MP4, except that it uses Apple's FairPlay DRM copyright protection.
FLV Adobe Systems Adobe Flash Platform SWF, F4V, ISO base media file format Saved in the Adobe Flash Video container format. It contains a short header, synchronized audio and video data streams, and metadata packets.
WMV Microsoft many many Saved in the Microsoft Advanced Systems Format (ASF). It also supports HD videos and DRM encryption.
WEBM Google VP8, VP9, AV1 Vorbis, Opus Designed for sharing videos online. It uses a container structure similar to the Matroska.
VOB H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2 or MPEG-1 Part 2 PCM, DTS, MPEG-1, Audio Layer II (MP2), or Dolby Digital (AC-3) A movie data file saved on a DVD disc. It contains video, audio, subtitles, DVD menus, etc. It is usually formatted as MPEG-2 system streams.
MPG Moving Picture Experts Group MPEG-1 part 2, H.262 Dolby AC-3 or uncompressed linear PCM, MPEG-1 Audio Layer I, MPEG-1 Audio Layer I, MPEG-1 Audio Layer III (MP3) Using a digital video format standardized by the Moving Picture Experts Group, it can store video, audio, and metadata. You can see it on the web primarily for creating movies.
3GP Third Generation Partnership Project MPEG-4 Part 2, H.263, H.264 AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AMR-WB+, AAC-LC, HE-AAC v1 or Enhanced aacPlus (HE-AAC v2) It is used to save video and audio streams, which can be transmitted between 3G mobile phones.
RMVB RealNetworks RealVideo RealAudio An upgraded version of the standard Real Media (.RM) file format. Besides, it allows more efficient compression.
TS AVCHD (MPEG-4 / H.264 ) Dolby AC-3 or uncompressed linear PCM Besides saving compressed video data, it can also store video on a DVD disc. You can even use it to save streamed or broadcast video.
MTS AVCHD (MPEG-4 / H.264 ) Dolby AC-3 or uncompressed linear PCM Used by many Sony and Panasonic HD camcorders. Because it can store high-definition video on Blu-ray discs.
M2TS Sony AVCHD (MPEG-4 / H.264 ) Dolby AC-3 or uncompressed linear PCM Saved in the high-definition Blu-ray BDAV format. It is usually used to save video content of Blu-ray discs. And it supports 720p and 1080i formats.
3G2 3rd Generation Partnership Project 2 MPEG-4 Part 2, H.263, H.264 AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AMR-WB+, AAC-LC, HE-AAC v1 or Enhanced aacPlus (HE-AAC v2), EVRC, SMV or VMR-WB Saved in the 3GPP2 video and audio container format. It is used for transmitting multimedia content on the web and saving videos on mobile phones.
ASF Microsoft any any Designed for streaming media online. It can save audio data only sometimes. But you can use it to save both video and audio data, along with other metadata.
DIVX DivX, Inc. MPEG-4 Part 2–compliant video many It can compress video to a fraction of the original size without losing too much quality. Plus, it supports 720p HD.
F4V Adobe Systems Adobe Flash Platform SWF, F4V, ISO base media file format It stores video encoded in the H.264 codec, audio in the AAC+/HE-AAC/AAC v1/AAC v2 formats, and metadata. It is used for online videos.
MPEG Moving Picture Experts Group MPEG-1 part 2, H.262 Dolby AC-3 or uncompressed linear PCM, MPEG-1 Audio Layer I, MPEG-1 Audio Layer I, MPEG-1 Audio Layer III (MP3) It stores video and audio data compressed with MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 compression. It normally can be seen when sharing videos on the web.
MXF SMPTE any any Saved in the Material Exchange file format. It is designed for exchanging videos easily by different video tools and users.
OGV Xiph.Org Theora, Dirac Vorbis, FLAC The best part is that it can store video streams with different codecs like Theora, Dirac, and Daala. It is supported by many media players.
SWF FutureWave Software, later taken over by Macromedia and Adobe Systems Sorenson Spark, On2 VP6, H.264 (MPEG-4 Part 10) ADPCM, MP3, HE-AAC (MPEG-4 Part 3) An animation formed by text, vector, and raster graphics, and interactive content written in ActionScript.
TRP H.264 video AC3 audio Used for multiplexing digital video/audio streams and synchronizing the output. It also has features for error correction. You can see it in digital video broadcasting.
DV many many Normally recorded and created by DV cameras. It uses a standard raw format. And many video editors support this format.
AMV Variant of Motion JPEG Variant of IMA, ADPCM Used by some Chinese portable media players. It contains a compressed and low-resolution video, from 96x96 to 320x240 pixels.
MTV many many Some Chinese portable "MP4" video players may use this format. It can save MP3 audio and a series of images at a rate of 12 fps.
DPG MoonShell MPEG-1 MPEG-1 Layer II It is use for playing movie files on the Nintendo DS portable gaming device.
Find More Video Formats

How to Choose a Video File Format

When choosing a video format, it is hard to tell which one is the best. It depends on how you want the quality and size to be. If you are making a video for the web, you should choose some small formats like MP4 and WEBM, even though they may lose the quality of the video. But if you want a high-quality video, you may choose uncompressed formats, but you may need to put up with large file size.

Conversion

Convert Your Video Formats Freely

We provide all kinds of video converting tools that can meet your needs. You can convert videos losslessly and get the best quality with Video Converter Ultimate. Or you can try our online video converter to convert your videos quickly for free.