Trying to choose the ‘best’ video format to encode or convert a video can seem difficult. But rather than going through all the options out there, there are actually several easy ways to select the best format based on how you intend to use the video.
In particular there are a few options that should help to cater to most of your needs:
- To distribute the video or upload it online
If you want to distribute the video in any way or upload it online to social media, or even publish it on your own website – try MP4 with H.264.
As things stand MP4 with H.264 is the most widely-supported format out there, which makes it perfect for distributing videos. On top of that it has decent compression and so its file size will be relatively small.
In general MP4 with H.264 is also the recommended format for most online platforms and social media. It is the most widely-supported HTML5 video format too, which is why it is a good option to publish videos on a website.
- To burn a video DVD
When burning a video DVD you will need to use a format that is supported by DVD players – and that is MPEG-2. Although newer DVD players may support other formats, MPEG-2 is the safe option as it is supported universally.
- To compress a video for a specific device
If you want to compress a video to a small file size and watch it on a specific device, you can check to see if a format with better compression than H.264 is supported. The best one to check for initially is H.265, as it can reduce the file size of H.264 videos by up to half while maintaining their quality.
Unfortunately H.265 is not nearly as widely supported and its adoption has been slow due to various issues. That being said newer devices tend to have hardware support for H.265.
- To save a video for editing or further production
Assuming you want to encode a video to be edited later, it is best to save it in the highest quality possible. Professional studios would encode the video using lossless compression, but that may not be practical due to the large file size of lossless videos.
Instead some of the other popular options include DV-AVI, MPEG-2, or DivX.
As a rule it is best if you encode videos in the right format from the start, but if not you can convert them later if necessary (just not too many times). That can be done using software or even online platforms, and for example you can learn how to convert AVCHD to MP4 using Online Video Converter.
Overall once you decide how your video is going to be used, you should have no problem finding the right format using the methods outlined above. Keep in mind that newer formats may eventually replace some of the options listed – so be sure to double-check just in case.