Understanding Industry-Standard Video Formats

Video formats are no longer just the concern of audio visual specialists. Technology is becoming more user friendly with every new video technology that is introduced.

Videos can be uploaded to YouTube, social networking sites or to smartphones with just a few actions. Due to standardization, these actions can be done easily by anyone.

Industry Standard Definitions

As in many industries, standardization sets a basis for actions within the industry. Without standards being set, it would make it difficult for video product manufacturers to create products for every codec created. By setting common standards, the video products offered are not as diverse, making it easy for manufacturers to develop and promote their products.

The following are definitions of known industry standard video formats. Many form the basis for new formats and will be used for many technology applications in the future.

The Beginning - H.261

H261 is the technological basis of most video format standards and codecs. It was the first digital standard for video compression developed by the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and is primarily used for teleconferencing.


The video formats in MPEGs are only a part of the standard. MPEG-1 is based on H.261 and was designed to compress VHS quality video to transfer for video CD transfers which can be played by most DVD players.


MPEG-2 Part 2 is an extension of MPEG-1 and is also known as H.262. This video format provides better resolution at a higher bit rate and is used by digital television, DVDs and videos. The part 2 refers to the standard being a Simple Profile and is for low resolution and low bit rates. In Advanced Simple Profile, it is used for downloading movies.


H.263 is used to encode or compress flash video formats. As it has been designed to send data over potentially unreliable connections, it is also used to send video over mobile networks such as via cell phones.


MPEG-4 Part 10 was also designed to operate over unreliable connections as well as for higher end video format needs such as Blu-ray. Part 10 of the standard is also known as AVC (Advanced Video Coding) or H.264. These are two different formats that form the MPEG-4 standard. Compression rates are more efficient than other MPEG formats and allow for better video quality while using less space. This standard is now used by satellite services as well as AT&T's U-verse.


This standard was developed by Microsoft and released by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers as an alternative video codec to H.264. It is still based on previous H.26X and MPEG standards. It is primarily used for high definition DVD and Blu-ray video formats in addition to Xbox 360. It continues the protocol of delivering better quality video while using less space in your computer or mobile devices.

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