Video Formats and Codecs

I shoot home video's with a DVD camcorder. It records directly to DVD's, which is exactly what I wanted. I can pop the DVD's into any DVD player and watch them, as-is. I can also create backups of the originals quite easily using my DVD Burner. Loading video from the DVD player to edit on a computer is a little more difficult.

I *think* I prefer the MPEG2 (H.262) format for storage. It is 720×480 video used on HDTV, DVD, and SVCD. I like it because it's native to the DVD's I'm recording on.

Certain tools can only use certain file formats and codecs. Since I use Linux, my choices are limited. I need to consider this when working with video on the PC.

I've found I like DV for editing (without a container).

Video codecs like MPEG2 tend to handle a video sequence by reducing the number of full frames per second and encoding the differences between frames, making precise editing more difficult. These are known as “interframe” forms of compression. For this reason, I prefer the DV format for editing.

The AAC audio format was made as an improvement over MP3. The bitrate and file size is lower with about the same quality. (Not to be confused with AC3).

MP3 is wildly popular as a music storage format, and it can be used on DVD's, but more DVD players support the AC3 format.

So, to summarize, there are 4 main factors. The file type (such as Quicktime, AVI, or DV), the file extension (.mov, .avi, .dv), the video codec (h.262 [MPEG2], h.264 [MPEG4]) and the audio codec (AAC, MP3).

Standard DVD Format

The most common DVD format is 720 x 480 pixels MPEG2 (Called Full-D1) using AC3 (Dolby Digital) or PCM (uncompressed) audio.

SCD Format

A less common but smaller size is 352 x 240 pixels MPEG1 (same as the VCD standard) video using MPEG1 Layer 1 audio (MP1).

I think this smaller format will also burn to a DVD and play in most players.

Ripping from my Sony DVD Camcorder

My Sony DVD camcorder records VOB files in MPEG2 format with AC3 audio (I think). As such, I often need to rip DVD video into other formats. For more information see my Rip a DVD with FFmpeg page.

More Information

I have more information about video formats and codecs, ripping home video from a DVD, a story board sketching, and more on my Digital Video page.


Here are some website resources.

Great detailed DVD information.

Newbie information from a newbie.

There's a good glossary of formats at the URL below.

Here's a DVD authoring guide that looks useful.

Another resource that might be good.

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video/format_and_codec.txt · Last modified: 2020/06/01 22:53 (external edit)