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WHAT FORMATS DO I NEED FOR DIFFERENT VIDEO PLATFORMS?

Video is one of the most versatile media available. It's capable of being delivered on a huge number of platforms. So all you need to do is put your video into the correct format that the viewing device(s) require. That sounds easy enough but actually it's a tricky hurdle to overcome because if you're not careful, it won't playback at optimum performance and sometimes not at all. Whether it's for computers (Apple or Windows,) Mobile devices (iO/S or android), TV's (Flat screen, CTR, playback or broadcast) they all prefer different formats and configurations. Further complicated by Blu-Ray, DVD, Large overhead projection, In store point of sale, screen sizes and aspect ratios. Our own post production suite has over 170 digital video formats - Oh how we wish there was just one standard for all !

Which Format and Why?
Video requires very large files. You know how big a photo image file is, well UK PAL standard video runs at 25 images per second so a 3 minute video has 4500 images (30 per second for NTSC). Very few devices can cope with this massive data stream so the files have to be compressed. The process, known as encoding, uses CODECS (COding and DECoding) software which varies between formats and therefore the devices that have to decode them.

Whilst most devices these days read the image as progressive (one full image every 1/25 second), CRT TV's and broadcast use interlaced (50% of each image every 1/50 second). Get that wrong and any movement in the video will display horrible serrated edges like castle embattlements.

Files Size
The amount of compression, referred to above, is determined by the required data stream per second, known as the bitrate, which will affect the quality of video and sound. The least compression (higher bitrate) = better quality but bigger file sizes. The method of viewing will determine what it can cope with.

The easiest example to grasp an understanding of this is the Internet. If only everyone had 80Mbps broadband but sadly they don't. Some rural areas struggle to get 1Mbps. Other devices and formats are also governed by bitrates. E.g. an Apple computer can handle more than an Apple iPad. High Definition Blu-ray is more than Standard Definition DVD and so on. To optimise the clearest picture and sound, it's therefore important to know how your video will be seen. For example; the current optimum for YouTube and Vimeo upload size is approx 5Mbps for the picture and 0.25Mbps for sound.

Be warned: Video that's compressed to a small file size cannot be successfully increased in size to meet the demands of higher quality devices.

Aspect Ratio & Frame Size
For the purpose of this overview we'll ignore the cinematic aspect ratios and concentrate on those that you're more likely to require.

The days of 4:3 aspect ratio that older TV's showed are almost gone, which is why older films sometimes appear stretched in order to fill the screen, or the edges are cropped and missing.

16:9 wide screen is the most popular these days, however there are still some devices configured for 4:3 such as overhead projectors and point of sale displays - How annoying is that?
Formats are created by the encoding proocess
The frame size is governed by the H x W in pixels and to complicate matters further they aren't always square as in photo's, but we can equate them for the purpose of this explanation.

Standard Definition is equivalent to 1024 x 576. Intermediate High Definition is 1280 x 720. Full HD is 1920 x 1080. Ultra High Definition, also known as 4K, is 3840 x 2160 but due to lack of available content we're a long way off UHD becoming popular.

Again, be warned: If your footage is filmed in 1024 x 576, it will not look perfect if your output is bigger. For example; the current optimum YouTube and Vimeo upload size is 1920 x 1080 so it's better to film and edit in HD, before encoding.

Don't leave it to your web designer
Many videos these days are embedded into web pages. Your video producer will have a greater understanding of encoding criteria, better encoding software than you web designer and also be able to minimise quality loss by working from original footage.

If your designer allocates available space on a web page, it's essential to maintain the correct aspect ratio so that your video retains the correct proportions. Provided it's the same size or less than the original frame dimensions, it should be okay to resize but do keep it to exact full pixel integers. E.g. for wide screen maintain the 16:9 width to height aspect ratio by using 960 x 540, 640x360, 560x315, 480x270, 400x225 or 320x180 pixels.

But don't be put off
Video is probably the most versatile media available. It's capable of being delivered on a huge number of platforms. Getting it right might initially have been considered to be easy and now it seems a maze of confusion but don't be put off.

A good video production company should possess all the intricate knowledge and resources to access your video in the best quality to a massive range of viewers on an array of different platforms.

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If you would like your video to work at its optimum performance on all its delivery platforms, why not give CorpFilms [UK] a call?
"It's what we're known for. It's what we do well"
   

CorpFilms [UK] specialises in 'high-end' corporate film production. * Company Promotions * Web and Point of Sale adverts * Training, Employee Inductions and e-Learning * Product 'How to' User Guides & Demonstrations * Live Events and Award Ceremonies * Interactive Interviews
Call or email for an informal chat.

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