Choosing your Video Format

This page is for people who really want to understand the technical stuff. It’s not important to read because I can easily guide you through this on the telephone, but it's here if you fancy some background reading. 

There’s nothing simpler than a DVD or Blu-ray disc: you drop it into the tray and press play. Files and USB drives are something else, so please ensure you get the right type that suits your needs.

There are thousands of permutations in creating a video file, so if you have a special request for a file that isn’t on the list, let’s chat and hopefully we can create the one you want. 

All files listed at the bottom of this page are in the MPEG4 format using the H.264 codec. Yes, that may sound gobbledegook, so to put it simply, this is the format that is ideal for all modern computer systems and TVs.  

So why are there 9 different samples at the bottom of the page? To answer that, I’ve split the information into two categories: the short answer... and the not-so-short-answer.

The Short Answer (please read this!)

Of the 9 files further down the screen, you really only need to focus on three:

File 1: This is for a 4K Computers or 4K TVs
File 2: This is for computers or large HD TVs
File 6: This is also for computers, smaller HD TVs, tablets, and smartphones.

The higher the quality, the bigger the file. So click on the 10-second files at the bottom of this page, download and save them, and try them out... and that’s it!

Whichever looks and plays the best is the one for you! Please be aware that your final video file might be large and therefore requires a computer or TV that supports this size. On slower computers, the playback could be ‘choppy’, so please contact me for further information.

The Not-So-Simple Answer (don’t read this - it’s really boring!)

MPEG4 is the wrapper, and the data within it, H.264, is the codec.  There are so many codecs to choose from, but H.264 is the most popular and works on almost every system. The combination of wrapper and codec makes the file!

Files can be large or small depending on two main factors: resolution and compression! 

a) Resolution
Resolution refers to the number of pixels that compose the video picture - the higher the number, the better the quality.

File 1 (4K 3840 x 2160.mp4.zip) is an Ultra High Definition video file (4K) and has 3,840 pixels (horizontal) x 2,160 pixels (vertical), which means if you have a 4K monitor or TV, this will look fantastic. However, even though the demo file is only 10 seconds long, it's still 20.4 megabytes in size. This means if your video is an hour long then your file size will be over 13 gigabytes! 

Files 2, 3, 4 & 5 are Full High Definition files and have 1,920 pixels (horizontal) x 1,080 pixels (vertical). These files are universally accepted on most modern HD TVs and computers. 

Files 6, 7, 8, & 9 are High Definition files and have 1,280 pixels (horizontal) x 720 pixels (vertical) and are best for smaller HD TVs and computers. These are also ideal for phones and tablets.

But the choice is yours - try them out!

b) Compression
Compression involves packing the file's information into a smaller space. If done well, the difference in quality is barely noticeable. There are 4 x Full HD files and 4 x HD files to choose from, each one has varying degrees of compression to keep the file size as low as possible. So, File 2, for example will be a bigger file (needing more storage space) than file File 5.  Is there a difference in quality?  Well, you be the judge.  Just choose the one that's right for you.

As a guide, I’ve calculated how large each file will be per minute and also for 1 hour (the typical length of the Raw Footage). These are represented in megabytes (mb) or gigabytes (gb) and are only approximate calculations - file sizes can vary depending on the picture content of the file.

The ones in bold are my simplified recommendations as explained in the ‘Short Answer’ section.

1. 4K 3840 x 2160 - [ 1 min = 225 mb / 1 hour = 13 gb ]
2. Full HD 1920 x 1080 (Super High Quality) - [ 1 min = 100 mb / 1 hour = 6 gb ]
3. Full HD 1920 x 1080 (High Quality) -  [ 1 min = 75 mb / 1 hour = 4.5 gb ]
4. FULL HD 1920 x 1080 (Standard Quality) - [ 1 min = 50 mb / 1 hour = 3 gb ]
5. FULL HD 1920 x 1080 (Lower Quality) - [ 1 min = 25 mb / 1 hour = 1.5 gb ]
6. HD 1280 x 720 (Super High Quality) - [ 1 min = 50 mb / 1 hour = 3 gb ]
7. HD 1280 x 720 (High Quality) - [ 1 min = 25 mb / 1 hour = 1.5 gb ]
8. HD 1280 x 720 (Standard Quality) - [ 1 min = 20 mb / 1 hour = 1.2 gb ]
9. HD 1280 x 720 (Lower Quality) - [ 1 min = 15 mb / 1 hour = 900 mb ]

(To download the files simply click on a zip file)

1. 4K 3840 x 2160.mp4.zip

2. Full HD 1920 x 1080 (Super High Quality).mp4.zip

3. Full HD 1920 x 1080 (High Quality).mp4.zip

4. Full HD 1920 x 1080 (Standard Quality).mp4.zip

5. Full HD 1920 x 1080 (Lower Quality).mp4.zip

6. HD 1280 x 720 (Super High Quality).mp4.zip

7. HD 1280 x 720 (High Quality).mp4.zip

8. HD 1280 x 720 (Standard Quality).mp4.zip

9. HD 1280 x 720 (Lower Quality).mp4.zip

USB Drives & TVs

Owing to their portability and size, USB Drives have become one of the best ways of storing and transporting files. The latest drives are known as USB 3.0. These are much faster than their predecessor USB 2.0; however, if your flash drive is USB 3.0 and your computer’s port is USB 2.0, transfers will only happen at USB 2.0 speeds. USB 3.0s are also more expensive. If you are simply looking to copy files from one system to another and speed is not a factor, then USB 2.0 drives are probably the best way to go.

As if it wasn’t complicated enough, the USB drive that you request has to be correctly ‘formatted'. To put simply, your USB will either be in the FAT32 format (the standard used in most USBs) or the exFAT format (a more recent system). There are other formats such as NTFS, but we do not supply these because they have restricted use on Mac computers.

What is FAT32?  

FAT32 works on both PCs and Macs and is also an excellent format for playing movies on TVs that support both USB and the MPG4 video files. However, the only problem with FAT32 is that it can only hold a file with a maximum size of 4GB. This will be a problem with files 1, 2 and 3 because they are over this limit. Other formats listed above (files 4-9) should not be a problem. 

What is exFAT?  

ExFAT also works on PCs and Macs, but it allows files of any size. This is ideal if you want the USB as a storage / delivery platform, but it may not play on your TV - it doesn’t on mine!

If you want to play the file directly on a TV, please talk to us about your requirements so we can get the right drive and format to you. 

The simplest and most economical way to ensure your movie plays on your TV via a USB drive is to experiment yourself with the test files below. Find the one that works for you and try it on your own USB. 

In summary, when ordering a USB, it’s vital you test the files above to make sure that you get the right one for you! 

Eternity Videos is a professional video production company based in the Midlands and operating across the UK

Eternity Videos is a professional family video production company based near Birmingham in the Midlands and operating across the UK.

Ancestry Videos | Legacy Videos | Video Biographies | Genealogy Videos | Family History Films | Video Memoirs | Life Story Videos | Family Documentaries | Filming Your Parents

Copyright © Barry J Wale 2020

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