File Wars Episode IV: Any Hope?

posted on December 15th 2009 in Animation & TOOTS with 4 Comments

As an instructor, you try to be as clear as possible when asking for files to be saved in a compatible format for grading. This task can sometimes stump the best of us. Fear not, my friends, for you’re in good company. Here’s what’s up:

Most browsers have the necessary powers to view the most common formats. For example, the MPEG format (Motion Pictures Expert Group),is a good choice for quality video. However, there are many options. The point is to be sure it’s compatible, and the necessary plugins are clearly available if not previously installed. If you’re going to be watching any video (which of course you are) on your computer, you should definitely be prepared to play/accept WMV, FLV, MP4, MOV and SWF. Confused? Check out the list below for brief definitions:

  • .3gp – the most common video format for mobile phones
  • .asf – (ASF is a shell, which enables any form of compression to be used; MPEG-4 is common. Video in ASF-containers is also called Windows Media Video (WMV))
  • .avi – Audio Video Interleave – a shell that enables any form of compression to be used; MPEG-1 and a variant of MPEG-4 are common)
  • .flv – Flash video played through a .swf file.
  • .m2v – MPEG-2 Video file
  • .mov – Quicktime video; enables any form of compression to be used; Sorenson codec is the most common.
  • .mp3 – MPEG layer 3 audio;
  • .mp4 – MPEG-4 Part 14. Most commonly used to store digital video and digital audio streams
  • .mpeg, .mpg, .mpe – Moving Picture Experts Group
  • .ra – Real Audio

Even if you haven’t figured it all out yet, lighten up. You can actually upload almost any video, as long as it’s in a compatible format. Many players will accept multiple file formats, so you can use one app for all video. But no one expects you to know everything at any time. Just what’s best for that particular file. Do your homework.

Now that I’ve completely confused the crap out of you, don’t sweat it. Have a cookie. The oracle says “as soon as you leave this post, you’ll feel right as rain”. But just in case you get a stale cookie, this will surely lift your spirits.

Have a better one, folks.

Web/Graphic instructor & designer, illustrator & recovering fontaholic.

currently there's 4 comment(s)

  • Nogui Aramburo

    commented on December 24, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Hey Sam! How’s everything? It’s been a hot minute! Site looks excellent. Are you coding it in DW or something else? I’m just getting to blog design. I’m still in NC, working as marketing coordinator for a real estate company. Anyway, hope all is well. Will bookmark your site and check in on you! Keep up the inspiration!

    • samsayshi

      commented on January 18, 2010 at 6:27 pm

      Thanks, Nogui. I’ll do my best to keep this site active.

  • Gigi

    commented on January 12, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Hey Sam, I’ve recently been up to my earlobes in Camtasia. Funky little software at first, then it grows on you… it’s very similar to After Effects at about 1/5th of the price. The Mac version actually looks like AE, has a timeline and separate tracks for audio and video. It even comes with canned effects, that you can edit and a text editor which includes nifty motion dials you can use to distort and position things with. You can export to Mpeg4 and you can also create an HTML/ FLash swf output to post online.

    The really great part of this software is that you can record ANYTHING as it happens on your computer, so you can create a tutorial video with narration while your viewers see your mouse movements. You can also record an already recorded video by simply playing it during a recording session. This was a life-saver for me after someone sent me a Windows only video recording with the “GoToMeeting” codec. I re-recorded the video from my Dell then imported it into my Mac and even edited out parts I didn’t want and added cool fades with captions here and there.

    All in all a BIG bang for your buck! Mac version is still just $99, but you can play with it for 30 days for FREE! Here’s a link:

    May the force be with you!

  • samsayshi

    commented on January 18, 2010 at 6:33 pm


    Thanks for the tip. I was already familiar with Camtasia from the PC environment. I still have “Jing” installed on my Mac. I’ll give the Mac version a look.


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