Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quick Look At Video File Extensions

A file extension is a way of identifying a computer file format. Knowing the meaning of a computer video file extension can save you heartache. It has advantages when you buy a camcorder or video editing software.

I bring this up because as I roam around the various video help forums there is mass confusions about the types of video and compatibility.

A video file extension can look something like:


The last three letters after the . indicate the video file format. It gives you a clue as to the media player or software program that is associated with that particular type of video file.

Some of the more common video file extension are:
  • AVI - this is actually a container format but what the heck. The original .avi format could be opened by any video player, editing software or media device. There are now variations that are starting to cancel out the universal feature of .avi
  • MOV - This is an Apple/Quicktime video format. Files with the .mov cannot be opened in Windows Movie Maker or Windows Live Movie Maker.
  • OGG Theora - This is a Linux video format, I mention it because it is open source and places like Wikipedia or those supporter of an open video (non-proprietary) use .ogg to post videos to web sites.
  • WMV This is a Microsoft video file format.

Why Do I Need to Know This?

As much as possible you want to match your camcorder video format to the editing program of your choice.

For Mac users that means that if your are interested in point and share camcorders look to Kodak. The video files are in the H.264.mp4 MOV format. That will reduce your frustrations when you try to open in Mac specific video editing software.

If you need more than a point and share camcorder you'll need to do more research to find a compatible camcorder for iMovie, Final Cut Express or Final Cut Pro.

For PC users you need to know that as great as the Kodak line of point and share camcorders are you can't open .mov videos in Windows Movie Maker. You will need a video converter.

I'll need to discuss mp4 at a later date. It is a certain type of a compression/video format with multiple variations.

I have written a prior post about the problems of Mac users, iMovie and mp4 video conversion. There is also a post about Conversion Blues and dealing with .mp4 videos.

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