Video Codecs and File Formats Exposed (Part 2) - WMV, MOV,MKV

6/30/2012 11:37:51 AM


WMV stands for Windows Media Video and is a generic name given to a number of Microsoft-designed video codecs. Based on the early drafts of the MPEG-4 specification, by the time initial versions were made public it had evolved sufficiently from MPEG-4 (thanks to in-house development) to be considered a separate codec in its own right.

Description: Windows Media Player 9

Windows Media Player 9

The initial codec has been updated over time, and in 2003 Microsoft submitted the current variant based on its Windows Media Player 9 technology to the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers for standardisation. This codec is used frequently by companies wishing to stream relatively high-quality video over the internet, because it's robust and has good browser integration properties. AVI file types generally require the whole video to be downloaded in order to begin viewing, but WMV and MPG content can be streamed immediately so long as the internet connection is fast enough to keep up.

One of the nice things about .wmv video is that high quality home footage can be encoded into this efficient medium with software freely downloadable from Microsoft's website. Users wanting to experiment with this excellent tool should head on over to where the latest version allows the creation of multi-pass VBR videos that rival even the latest H.264/AVC formats for quality and compression.


If AVI, MPG and WMV files are the three most popular file formats, MOV is surely the next most frequently encountered.

As with AVI, MOV is a wrapper file format that can accommodate a number of codecs. Most older MOV files will use a codec known as Sorenson. Sorenson based video files are still popular on the web, so if you have a Windows XP based system it will only be so long before you finally relent and download the QuickTime program so you can watch movie trailers, video reviews and music video samples. Thankfully the latest version of Apple's player is not quite as invasive as it used to be (if you can find the installer that doesn't force iTunes down your throat), and it is easy to prevent it from taking over as your machine's default player for virtually all multimedia files.

One of the main reasons QuickTime Sorenson is used in many movie trailers is that it is cheap to licence, works well at internet bit rates and streams; meaning you can watch what has downloaded so far right away rather than having to wait for the whole file - as you would have to with AVIs. Despite its continued popularity as an online video codec, if you are looking to store your own videos at high quality on your PC, Sorenson is a poor choice. Compared to MPEG-2, MPEG-4 implementations such as DivX or the latest Microsoft codecs, it simply does not offer the flexibility, nor the quality.

In 1998 the ISO announced that the QuickTime .mov file format would be used as the basis of the Mpeg-4 (.mp4) container standard. MPEG-4 video encoded using early versions of QuickTime (version 6.x) and using the .mov file format compare extremely unfavourably compared to DivX and Xvid. This is because QuickTime could only encode and decode using Simple Profile (SP). The advanced (ASP) features of the codec such as B-frames are unsupported, though support has fortunately been added for QuickTime 7's H.264 encoder, making it a far more attractive option for making high quality video than previous QuickTime MPEG-4 encoders.


Description: MKV is the Matroska Multimedia Container

MKV is the Matroska Multimedia Container

The Matroska Multimedia Container is an open source and royalty free container format, that can hold an unlimited number of video, audio, picture or subtitle tracks in one file. MKV files are among the most common file formats used by rippers of high definition content, as it overcomes many of the limitations of AVI. You'll often see people complaining about the usage of MKV files, but once you have a suitable player its advantages are numerous. AVI does not provide a standardized way to encode aspect ratio information, with the result that players cannot select the right one automatically; it was not intended to contain video using any compression technique which requires access to future video frame data beyond the current frame, and cannot contain some specific types of variable bitrate (VBR) data reliably. Each of these limitations are circumvented by MKV, explaining its increasingly prevalent use.

  •  How To Plan Every Element Of A Successful Studio Shoot
  •  How To Create A Window Light Effect And Much More (Part 2)
  •  How To Create A Window Light Effect And Much More (Part 1)
  •  CyberLink MediaSuite 10 Ultra Review
  •  Tasmania - Ideal Destination For Landscape Photographers (Part 2)
  •  Tasmania - Ideal Destination For Landscape Photographers (Part 1)
  •  Shoot Your Best-Ever Portraits (Part 3) - Location setups
  •  Shoot Your Best-Ever Portraits (Part 2) - Natural light setups
  •  Shoot Your Best-Ever Portraits (Part 1)
  •  Other Snippet Of Photography News From Across The Globe
  •  Change The View : Cut out subjects in Photoshop using the Colour Channels in four simple steps
  •  Home Theatre Pc Software And Operating Systems (Part 7) - Playing Back Blu-rays
  •  Home Theatre Pc Software And Operating Systems (Part 6) - Setting Up MediaPortal
  •  Home Theatre Pc Software And Operating Systems (Part 5) - MediaPortal
  •  Home Theatre Pc Software And Operating Systems (Part 4) - XBMC
  •  Home Theatre Pc Software And Operating Systems (Part 3) - Setting Up Windows Media Center
  •  Home Theatre Pc Software And Operating Systems (Part 2)
  •  Home Theatre Pc Software And Operating Systems (Part 1) - Windows Media Center
  •  Silverlight Recipes : Creating Application Services
  •  Silverlight Recipes : Creating Silverlight Using Ruby, Python, or JScript
    Top 10
    Windows 7 : The Zune PC Software (part 4) - Using Zune - Working with Videos, Organizing Pictures
    Windows 7 : The Zune PC Software (part 3) - Using Zune - Rating Content, Working with Playlists
    Windows 7 : The Zune PC Software (part 2) - Using Zune - The Zune User Experience, Enjoying Music
    Windows 7 : The Zune PC Software (part 1) - Finding and Installing Zune, Configuring the Zune Software
    Windows 7 : Microsoft Zune - A Digital Media Alternative - Why Zune?
    Microsoft .NET : Design Principles and Patterns - Applying Requirements by Design (part 2) - Security
    Microsoft .NET : Design Principles and Patterns - Applying Requirements by Design (part 1) - Testability
    Silverlight Recipes : Controls - Applying Custom Templates to a DataGrid Cell
    Silverlight Recipes : Controls - Displaying Row Details in a DataGrid
    Experience Sennheiser HD700 Headphones
    Most View
    Buying Guide: CPU Cooling Equipment (Part 5) - Antec KUHLER H2O 620,Arctic Cooling Freezer i30,Cooler Master Hyper 612 PWM
    iClone 5 Pro
    Sharepoint 2010 : Creating Security Trimmed CRUD Operations on a SQL Database Using Visual Studio 2010
    SQL Azure : Building Two OData Consumer Applications (part 2) - Windows Mobile 7 Application
    Samsung Series 8 PS51D8000 3D Plasma TV
    Summer games
    Microsoft ASP.NET 3.5 : The HTTP Request Context - The global.asax File
    The best music apps for your iOS Device (Part 1)
    Kingston SSDNow V+ 200 - SSDs for The Budget Conscious
    Windows 7 : Protecting Your Data from Loss and Theft - Encrypted File System (part 1) - Encrypting Offline Files, Using CIPHER
    Tube amplifier for headphone review
    Unifying: Greatest Challenge
    The Best Apps and Gear of 2012 (Part 3)
    Social Networking Tips & Tricks (May 2012)
    MobileMe Gallery after iCloud
    HP Anti-glare Compaq LCD
    Dual-SIM Smartphone Galaxy Ace Duos – Battery Test
    Sharepoint 2007: Personal Sites and Personal Details (Available Only in MOSS)
    Advanced ASP.NET : Data-Access Components (part 2) - Using the Data-Access Component
    Dell S2740L - A Beautifully Crafted 27-inch IPS Monitor