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Video-Based Formats

Video-based formats include any file designed primarily for viewing a set of images in quick succession to create a moving-image. While each individual image can be seen by a user that wants to do so, it is the moving-image quality that gives the format meaning. Most often, a video-based format will have an audio component that matches what is being displayed; an audio portion of the format, however, is not necessary for it to be considered video. Video and Audio-based formats are both generically referred to as recordings.

There is a very wide variety of video file format, many of which are proprietary and can require special software to access. The following are the most common types of video formats:

  • .avi
  • .flv
  • .mov
  • .mp4
  • .wmv


.avi stands for audio-video interleave and is a file format for video that was originally developed by Microsoft. The actual video portion of the format can be coded in multiple ways but audio is in the .wav format. Most video players can open this type of file format, although SCERA may not be able to stream it.


.flv is a moving image format designed for use by Macromedia Flashplayer or Adobe Flashplayer. If a .flv file is downloaded, it can be viewed in most web-browser programs when the flashplayer plugin has been installed.


.mov is the moving image format designed by Apple for playback with the QuickTime player application. Although Quicktime is its “native” application, .mov videos may be playable in other video players.


.mp4 stands for Motion Picture Experts Group part 4, also known as MPEG-4. MPEG-4 is actually a standard set by the Motion Picture Experts Group on how to encode moving image video and other types of information. Any file with the .mp4 extension claims to conform to the MPEG-4 standard. With its standardized nature, most video player programs can play an .mp4 video.


.wmv stands for Windows Media Video and is a format developed by Microsoft to stream moving images. It uses the special Windows Media Video codec to store video data. Although it may be playable in other video player programs, it is intended to be played back with the Windows Media Player application commonly available on current (2015) computers with the Windows operating system.

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