Downloading video footage: Which MPEG format(s) should I choose?

When downloading some video footage off an open access website I’m usually given the option of taking it in one of several formats:


Please help me choose which format(s) to pick.

  1. I intend to project the footage on a screen, so I want the best quality playback possible. Which format is best suited for that purpose? My first instinct was to pick HiRes MPEG4; but, surprisingly, the MPEG2 version comes in a bigger file, which usually means higher quality. I’m confused.

  2. If I want to be able to edit the footage down the road (probably in Final Cut), am I limited to some formats and not others? If so, which ones are good and which ones are no good for editing?

FYI, I’m working in Windows, not Mac.

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks all, in advance.

We could use a few more pieces of information:

What are the specifications of the projector? Resolution and supported input signal standards.

What will be decoding the mpg files and sending the signal to the projector (computer, vcr, DVD player, etc), and what are its capabilities?

But real quick, MPEG2 is likely sufficient for your purpose, and is used in the DVD standard. MPEG4 can carry higher quality in smaller file sizes, but is still a developing standard, and depending on your future needs, may cause problems.

Hi Resoultion Mpg4 will give you the best quality. MPG2 doesn’t do a good a job in in encoding video in terms of file size, that’s why the file is bigger.

Mpg4 is usually a term used to describe AVI vidoe encoded using some Mpg4 codec, probably Divx or Xvid, or perhaps quick time.

I’m not familiar with final cut pro, but you can alway render the video into some other format if you really need to edit it.

mpg4 can be almost any format e.g. for an ipod or phone screen, so you would want to know the resolution before downloading a big file

oh and on the usenet I stick to DIVX or similar avi files. Usually much smaller than a mpg2 and easily converted back