Live Streaming Video: File Formats and Codecs Explained

Posted by Amit Rathee on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 @ 01:59 PM

video streaming,live video streaming,video streaming best practices, codecs, file formats Today, live video streaming has become a useful tool many businesses are using to interact with clients and vendors, as well as to communicate information about their business. If you plan on using Onstream Media's video streaming for your business, it would be useful to learn about file formats and why they are important to consider, as well as the importance of codecs.

Consider the End Use

The first of the video streaming best practices you must follow is to consider the end use of that video. First, ask yourself if you will use live video streaming on your website, if you will create a DVD from the recording or if you will use an online avenue, such as YouTube. Answering this question before you even begin the production of your video will ensure it is in the proper format and will work well on the avenue on which you will distribute the video streaming. If you shoot the video and edit it before considering how you will use it, you can end up with a video you can’t use for your intended purposes.

Format and More

Once you have considered the end use of your video, you must concern yourself with the format, as well as other important factors, such as frame rates. When it comes to the format, there are actually two things you need to consider: the camera format and the end use format. In many cases, these two formats may be completely different.

Consider this, when you use the digital format, the camera will save the video to either a tape or a memory card. In many cases, the camera will automatically compress the format to ensure it doesn’t take up too much of your storage space. It is important to evaluate whether the format will be easy to work with for your video streaming needs.

In addition to paying attention to the format of the video, you should also think about the appropriate frame rate, resolution and more. All of these factors will determine the quality of your video and how large the file will be, which can have a major impact on live video streaming. You don’t want your video to load too slowly or lag in the middle, causing frustration to your viewers.

What is a File Format?

Understanding the basics of what a file format is, can help you see the importance of the proper formatting. With digital video formats for video streaming, the format will consist of two parts: the encoded video and its container. The video is the actual file you are looking to play and the container is how it will be played back. While some formats are somewhat universal in their playback, others may require specific software to enjoy the live video streaming. It is among the video streaming best practices to choose a format that will work best for most of your viewers to avoid alienating anyone.

What is a Container?

When it comes to dealing with file formats for video streaming, most people are unaware of the container. In fact, what is actually the container is what people think of as the format of the file. This code actually lets the computer or other equipment know how the file is compressed and how to play it. For live video streaming, some of the common formats include .AVI, .WMV, .MOV and .MPG. Each of these formats plays in different scenarios, making them important to consider when you are thinking of shooting a video for wide distribution.

What is a Codec?

Codec is a term you are likely to see thrown around when it comes to live video streaming. The word literally comes from a combination of the words “compressor” and “decompressor” or “encoder” and “decoder,” each of which relates to the creation of the video and its playback. The reason codecs are used is to reduce the amount of space a video file takes up. Because of their nature of many pictures and audio, these files naturally take up a lot of space. Codecs reduce those space requirements to make the video streaming easier to use in everyday life. However, this process also reduces the quality of the video, making it essential to produce higher quality videos for the best results.

There are many kinds of codecs that are available, each of which places their focus on something different. This is why it is important to consider your end uses and needs for your live video streaming. For instance, some codecs will ensure the video is compressed into an extremely small file that is easy to transport on storage devices. Others will place a focus on protecting color and image quality, while still others will keep the motion in the video as smooth as possible. Think about what you need most in your video streaming to help you choose the appropriate codec for your needs.

To ensure you are able to provide your viewers with the best experience possible, it is important to create videos in the highest quality you can with the equipment you use. This will ensure your live video streaming is easy to watch for your viewers. However, keep in mind the higher the quality, the more space your video will take up, even when it is compressed. For instance, HD video takes up a lot of space despite the use of codecs. This is why it is only the higher budget productions that are often completed in this type of format. Most businesses must settle for standard quality in at least one area to ensure they can provide the live video streaming they desire. Keep in mind, most cameras will only save files in compressed modes.

Learning the ins and outs of codecs and the video streaming best practices will ensure you are able to provide your viewers with the level of quality they expect from you. Once you understand how formats work and what role they play in your live video streaming, you will be able to make the best choices for your business. Onstream Media's award winning Visual Webcaster platform allows businesses to produce professional webcasts in a way that is simple and cost-effective.

Tags: Onstream Media, Video Streaming, video streaming best practices, file formats, live video streaming, codecs

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