(Note: Caleb, this is for you. )
With the rise of online file sharing, we’ve been introduced to a wide plethora of file formats. For pictures, you have *.gif, *.jpg, *.tif, and *.png as the major contenders. With documents, you mainly deal with *.pdf, *.doc, and *.rtf. However with video, you face several formats competing in compression, quality, price, speed, and compatibility factors.
It’s hard to even begin naming the top 5 video formats without assistance! You’ve got Real Media *.rm, MPEG4-wrapped *.avi, MPEG2 *.vob, Windows Media *.wmv, Flash *.flv, and Apple *.mov. AVI alone branches into several subgroup formats since it is a wrapped format extension! Often, people just want an ideal, common format that works with most software, compresses with a high ratio, looks decent, and costs nothing. (Sigh) If only there is such a format!
One of my friends was sorting out all the various formats and weighing the value of each one. I know this is debatable (and I kind of disagree with him) but he concludes that the best one was MPEG-1. It satisfies each of the criteria factors … fairly. Meaning, it is mediocre all around … but not really stellar. What’s great is that nobody needs to download a codec. MPEG-1 compatibility is built into 99% of all video players! While most players can play *.mpg files, it is difficult finding a compression program to actually create such a file. I guess software makers assume that it is an ancient format and that playback functionality, alone, is sufficient. They may be right, but I don’t see anybody getting rid of the *.gif format anytime soon!
Fortunately, there are a few programs with MPEG compression that still exist. The best one I found is TMPGEnc. Like the DivX converter, it works like a dream; straightforward and easy. You simply specify the input video and audio file (if both streams are separated), set the quality, and start the conversion! For the really n00b types, you can use the wizard instead what with the basic pre-configured compression profiles.
One tip, turn the preview function off. Unless you want to see your video in super slow motion, you’re really wasting processing power.
The one drawback I can think of is that TMPGEnc only accepts *.avi files as input formats. So, you have to find a way to convert your file to *.avi first before *.mpg. I don’t know … To me, that’s unnecessary double work and time. Does anybody have other suggestions? Feel free to leave any comments, questions, or suggestions below.
Check back next month on how to convert the other way around from *.mpg to *.avi!