Codec – Compress and decompress audio and video data and control how content can be viewed. Popular Codecs include: H.264, Xvid, FLAC, MP3 etc.
Containers – Can contain multiple types of codecs e.g. the audio and video codecs and brings them together in one package and makes them watchable on media players.
Popular Containers include: Mov, Avi, Quicktime.
Mp3 is the most common audio format. Simply put it is a form of compressed audio, meaning that partial data is removed from the file to save space. The data removed is generally files that would generally be unable to be heard such as extremely high or low notes; however, it also removes quieter and more subtle noises. Because of this loss of data, MP3’s are lower quality, and are worse for editing due to having less to work with.
The WAV file format differs from MP3’s as it is an uncompressed file format, meaning that it has a higher quality sound which is good for editing. However, it does have a much larger file size which is not ideal for casual play back. Because of this it is commonplace for audio to be recorded and edited in WAV format, and then exported into an MP3 for consumption.
MOV is a format designed to specifically work with Window’s PC’s. It is used for a wide variety of video content, and is compatible with many video codecs.
Similar to .MOV but for Mac’s.
Is a highly versatile video format used largely for downloading and streaming videos from the internet. Popularised by the iTunes store, it can also store audio, subtitles, and still images.
A video format which highly compressed video data down into a very small file size without sacrificing too much quality. Primarily used by Panasonic and Sony.
MKV is a high quality open source format which supports nearly every codec. However, it is not supported by certain programs and devices due to not being considered an industry standard.
They can be viewed using open source software such as VLC Player.
What to use?
What formats to use is largely dependant on what the camera allows. Most often it will be either .MOV or MP4, however the TV cameras at the media store will record in AVCHD.
For which codec to export it as, use h.264 as this is the industry standard.