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OpenEye Knowledge Base

What is the Difference Between Video File Formats?

Raw, MP4, and VAR are different file formats commonly used for storing and encoding video data. Here's an overview of each format, their differences, similarities, advantages, disadvantages, reasons for use, and their impact on file size and potential data transfer rates:

File size 
  • Raw files have the largest file sizes due to their uncompressed or minimally processed nature.
  • MP4 files have smaller file sizes compared to raw files as they employ compression techniques to reduce storage requirements.
  • VAR files are similar to MP4 in terms of file size, as they also utilize compression algorithms.
  • Raw video files contain uncompressed or minimally processed video data directly from the camera's sensor.
  • Differences: Raw files offer the highest level of image quality and flexibility for post-processing but require substantial storage space and specialized software for playback and editing.
  • Similarities: Raw files preserve the original data captured by the camera, maintaining the highest level of detail and dynamic range.
  • Advantages: Uncompressed or lightly processed data allows for maximum flexibility during editing, color grading, and post-production.
  • Disadvantages: Large file sizes require significant storage space and high-performance hardware for processing. Raw files also require specialized software for playback and editing.
  • Reasons for use: Raw files are commonly used by professional filmmakers and photographers who require the utmost control and quality in their footage.
  • Apex does not support raw video data, nor does it export using raw video. 
  • MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14) is a widely used video container format that employs compression algorithms to reduce file size while maintaining reasonable video quality.
  • Differences: MP4 files are highly compressed compared to raw files, resulting in smaller file sizes. They are compatible with a wide range of devices and players, making them easily accessible.
  • Similarities: MP4 files can store video and audio streams, allowing for synchronized playback.
  • Advantages: MP4 offers good video quality with relatively small file sizes, making it suitable for sharing, streaming, and general playback. It has broad compatibility across various devices and platforms.
  • Disadvantages: Compression leads to some loss of image quality compared to raw files. MP4 files are not ideal for extensive post-processing or color grading, as the compression artifacts become more pronounced.
  • Reasons for use: MP4 is commonly used for online video sharing, streaming services, mobile devices, and general video playback due to its smaller file sizes and broad compatibility.
  • Apex does support MP4 for streaming, but can export MP4 clips and can can be viewed using most media players. What are my options to watch locally exported clips?
  • Variable Frame Rate (VAR) is a video format that allows for changing frame rates within a single video file. It is often used in screen recording or gameplay capture applications.
  • Differences: VAR files are similar to MP4 files in terms of compression and compatibility. The main difference is the ability to handle varying frame rates.
  • Similarities: VAR files share similarities with MP4 files in terms of compression and compatibility.
  • Advantages: VAR files accommodate changes in frame rates, which is useful for capturing screen recordings or gameplay that involve varying frame rates.
  • Disadvantages: Similar to MP4, VAR files suffer from compression artifacts, and extensive post-processing may lead to a loss of quality.
  • Reasons for use: VAR files are commonly used in screen recording software or capturing gameplay footage, where frame rates may vary.
  • Apex does support VAR files using Archive exports.
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