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Quick Guide to Choosing the Right Video Output Format

If you have ever been through the process of editing video on your PC and output it as a single file, you have undoubtedly faced the question of "which video format should I choose?". A simple question that is sometimes not so simple to answer. For those who want to put their videos online, there aim is to find a format that can compress the video file as much as possible, but without sacrificing video quality. For those wanting to watch their videos at home on the TV, they want to produce their movie masterpieces in a format with the best video quality, but with a file size suitable to burn onto a CD or DVD. These scenarios are something that almost everyone will face at one time or another, when producing movies on the PC, and in order to make the right decision you need to have all the facts. The following are some helpful tips to guide you in the right direction.

The first thing you should keep in mind at all times is: "always keep the original video file in the highest quality format". Whether you are outputting your video into a web streamable format, or burning it onto a CD/DVD, always remember to preserve the original video file in high quality. In general, DV-AVI video files have the best video quality. However, please note that 60 minutes of video can take up almost 12GB of hard disk space, so be sure to have enough storage space. The next best thing to DV-AVI is using a high quality MPEG-2 compressed file format, which enables you to save up to 2 hours of high quality MPEG-2 video onto a single DVD disc (4.7GB).

With streamable video formats (such as Windows Media Video, QuickTime, and RealVideo) you can save a lot of disk space, but these files (once output in streaming format) cannot be restored or edited. Streamable video formats are still greatly used by many people because they offer reasonable quality, small file sizes, and allow you to send videos via e-mail (if within a reasonable size) or place on the web for easy viewing anywhere in the world.

Now that you have an understanding of the basics, view the various different video formats supported by PowerDirector on the table below to become more familiarized with the pros and cons of each format.

Advantages Disadvantages Note
High Quality
DV-AVI

* Superb video quality
* Can record back to DV tape

* Large file size
* 25GB for 60 min of video

Need to consider computer processing power due to file size constraints

MPEG-2
* Good Quality
* Can burn onto DVD disc

* Large file size
* 4.7GB for 2 hours of video (the file size will differ based on the bitrate used, higher the bitrate, the bigger the file size)

Can easily produce high quality videos on DVD, using a DVD burner

DivX
* Good Quality with reasonably small file size

* Not a standard video format
* Cannot produce video onto DVD or CD

It is an editable video file format

Medium Quality
MPEG-1
* Standard video format for making Video CDs

* Video quality is not as crisp as MPEG-2.
* Some DVD players do not support VCD playback

Best choice for making Video CDs
Streamable Format
RealVideo

* Small file size
* Good picture quality
* Ideal for web transmission

* Compressed format
* Require special playback program
* Cannot Edit

Was a commonly used video streaming format, but not in such high use today
WMV

* Small file size
* Good picture quality
* Ideal for web transmission

* Compressed format
* Cannot Edit

Microsoft supported streamable video format. Files can be viewed with Windows Media Player.
QuickTime

* Good picture quality
* Ideal for web transmission

* Larger file size (compare to other streamable formats)
* Cannot Edit

Is known to have the best video quality of all three streaming formats listed here.
In widespread use on the Web.