A guide to various web video formats

When it comes to streaming video on web, the choice of video formats narrows down to two or three. Most video formats like AVI, DivX, MPG, RM are not web streamable across all devices and browsers. Besides, the file size to quality ratio is a prime factor for deploying videos on web.

A brief introduction to the term codec:

A codec is a software library that encodes and decodes a digital data stream. When we talk about web video formats, the term codec is important because web video quality and compression depend primarily on the codec used to encode them and not the actual software. In other words a partiular codec X is used by a host of software companines - A, B, C, D and E. When videos are encoded by these software, all the videos are encoded in the same format supported by codec X.
Some of the codec names associated with web video:
Video - Sorenson Spark H.263, On2 Vp6, H.264, Vp8
Audio - Mp3, AAC, Vorbis

A brief introduction to the web video formats:

FLV format
FLV or Flash Video is a file format that was introduced by Macromedia in 2003. FLV was the first video format that actually took a small file footprint and was streamable via the Macromedia Flash player 6. FLV was the preferred format for a large number of websites like YouTube, Vimeo and Metacalfe. Till today, a lot of websites stream their videos with the FLV format. The two notable codecs for encoding FLV videos are Sorenson Spark and On2 Vp6.With the introduction of Flash Player 9 in 2008 a FLV file container can house a H.264 stream with AAC audio.
FLV Codecs:
Video - Sorenson Spark H.263, On2 Vp6, H.264 | Audio - Mp3, AAC
Mp4 format
By Mp4 we point to H.264/Mpeg-4 Part 10 or AVC (Advanced Video Coding) which is now a standard for video formats for streaming videos on web. Supported by all the latest browsers and devices this is the format of choice for leading video sharing websites like Vimeo, YouTube, and the iTunes Store and devices like iPad, iPhones, Android phones and tablets. A mp4 file can come in various extensions like mp4, m4v or f4v.
Mp4 Codec:
Video - H.264 | Audio - AAC
WebM format
WebM is an audio-video format for use with HTML5 video. The project's development is sponsored by Google Inc. A WebM file consists of VP8 video and Vorbis audio streams.
WebM Codec:
Video - Vp8 | Audio - Vorbis

To know how the various formats, support the latest browsers and devices click here.

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