How to Change Video Format Without Converting | Pro Tips for Easy & Quality Format Change

You have just recorded an awesome video clip on your camera.  The problem is you have the video recording or other personal data in the wrong format.  How can you change the video format?  At Digital Software Products, we give you the must-know answers to your software or technical questions and help you choose the best software to get the job done.

When you decide to change a video format, be sure to choose from a list of proven video converters that can get the job done.  in addition, there are a multitude of online and offline converters that can convert video formats and audio formats to the ones you want.  Most software is easy to download with an easy-to-use interface.

If you have a video that currently does not play on your device such as smartphone, tablet, or TV, take a look at our step-by-step guide to help convert video to the appropriate video format and which suggested software to use.

How can I change video format?

If you  use video editing or video effects software often, you may commonly need to change video formats.  Unlike digital photos that are mostly saved as JPEG format files, video files do not necessarily have a single common standard for its saved file format.  You must convert videos to the appropriate video   formats including  MP4, MKV,  AVI, or another output format to be uploaded for online video streaming.

filming a video

Luckily, most modern devices, including smartphones and tablets, can play MP4 format videos with MP3 format audio files. Thus, MP4 videos are currently one of the most common video formats, especially when using video editing software.

What is a codec?

A codec is a device or program that compresses data to enable faster transmission and ecompresses received data.  In the context of video format files, a codec is a standard used for compressing and decompressing digital media, especially audio and video.

Since audio and video traditionally consume significant bandwidth due to their size, a codec (abbreviation for "coder-decoder" or "compression-decompression") is a device or computer program that encodes or decodes a digital data stream or signal.

Codecs can be viewed as compression technologies with two main components: an encoder to compress the files and a decoder to decompress the files.

Here are some examples of codecs for different file formats.

  • Data: PKZIP

  • Images: JPEG, GIF, PNG

  • Audio: MP3, AAC

  • Video: Cinepak, MPEG-2, H.264, MP4, VP8

editing on a laptop

Types of Video Codecs

Video codecs can be classified into two main categories of codecs: lossless codecs and lossy codecs

Lossless codecs: As the name suggests, lossless means that when you use this type of compression for your file, then you will not lose any of the data.  Lossless compression is a form of data compression algorithms that allows the original data from the file to be perfectly reconstructed from the compressed data.

Lossy codecs: On the other class of video codecs are lossy codecs, where some or part of the data from the original file is lost.  Because the process is irreversible, if you convert the file to a lossy codec format, then you can not go back to its original former format state.  Also, as you compress the file more and more, the more degradation will occur.  Two common examples of lossy image formats are JPEGs and GIFs.

What is MP4 ?

MP4, also known as "MPEG 4" is one of the most common formats for digital video files.  "MP4" stands for "Moving Pictures Expert Group 4", which is a standard for audio and video coding compression.

If you are looking to convert video audio files to MP4, you can use free video players like VLC player that support formats including MP4, MPJPEG, MPEG-2, PS, and PVA.  Be sure to check what desired output format you would like to target as well as the original file size before you begin conversion.

When you convert the video to the MP4 format, be sure to take a step-by-step approach when you select and save to a particular format during the file conversion process.

What is a container?

A container, as the name suggests, refers to the file container that "contains" your video and audio streams and any closed caption files when using those file in a media player.

You can add and select closed captions such as subtitles by clicking the "CC" button (short for "closed captions") on most media players on both Windows and MacOS computers.

A container is also commonly called a file extension since they are normally seen at the end of file names (for example, "thisfile.mp4").  Depending on the camera, camcorder, webcam, or other device you are using, you can add or select the container for your original video file from the settings menu.

Which is the lowest video format?

If you are looking for the lowest or smallest video format with high quality, we suggest that the MKV/MP4 or X/H.264 video formats. Both video formats can store high quality videos in best possibly quality. 

The H.264 video format stores the video compressed, whereas most other video formats will keep the video uncompressed.  MKV is also a good choice for high quality videos in minimum size format.

How do I change an unsupported video format?

If you try to open a video file and a message returns like an "Unsupported Video Format" error shows up, there are few ways to troubleshoot and resolve this problem.  The message indicates that the video format is not playable on your video player.  You can try to play the media file on another video player, and sometimes the error may go away with this quick fix.

unable to play

If the error persists in different video  players that you try, then you may need to fix the unsupported video format altogether by fixing the video file. Remember that each video file format (for example: MP4, AVI, FLV, 3GP, MKV, or POV) has its own unique file structure and is created on different device types such as mobile phone, camera, camcorder,  or webcam.

Because the video player is supposed to play a specific file type, you may reach an error when you try to play a different file type on the video player.  One example is the Windows Media Player.  If you try to run the AVI video file, the Windows Media Player will encounter and error and not play the video file because it does not support the AVI file format.

In order to change an unsupported video format, it is important to take the necessary steps to make sure that you have the proper video and audio codec for an unsupported video file.  Let's take a look at some ways to troubleshoot an unsupported video file error.

Try another video player to play the video file.

If you have video files that are encountering an error, a simple step to try is using another media player.  Because some video and audio players are designed to run only specific formats such as particular video files or audio files, you may need to install their corresponding codecs in order to run and play the files.

There are some video players like VLC player that can run almost all of the major video formats such as AVI, MP4, WMV, RMVB, MKV, 3GP, M4V, MOV, TS, MPG, and FLV.

Use video conversion software to convert the format of the video file.

Sometimes your videos will not play because the video format is unsupported.  Video conversion software tools like HD Video Converter Factory Pro, Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate, and 4Videosoft Video Converter Ultimate are all excellent free options to convert video files to your desired format.

Do keep in mind and note that when you convert videos,  you may lose some video quality and audio quality during the video conversion process as well as resolution. If you change formats, the quality may be altered if the file size is too large. Be sure to confirm that you really want to change video formats before starting the file conversion process.  The converted file becomes an output file that can not be converted back to its original format state.

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Install the appropriate video codec for the unsupported video file.

Remember that a codec is generally just a piece of hardware or software that can encode and decode the video file.  If you find that your current video file is unsupported on your current video player, you can take the following steps to install the appropriate codec for the video file.

Installing a Codec in Windows Media Player

  • In Windows Media Player, first go to the "Tools" on the menu bar, then click on "Options".
  • Next, select the "Player" tab and check the box "Download codecs automatically" to select the correct option and click "OK".
  • When you play the video again, you will see that a pop-up message appears to prompt installation of the codec.  Click on "Install" to begin installing the codec.

Installing a Codec in VLC Player

VLC media player is a commonly used free video player that is both cross-platform and also supports the majority of different file formats for videos.  When you set up VLC media player, the codec is already present and ready to use.  Therefore, you do not need to install a separate codec file again in order to use the codec in the player.  Simply, just update the VLC player and it will install and load the latest updates for the software and the codec.

  • First click on "Start">>"All Programs">>"Video LAN">>"VLC Media Player".
  • Next, click on "Help">>"Check for Updates".
  • Finally, click "Yes" when the prompt window appears to begin installing the latest updates.  You can choose a destination file location to save the update file and the download will begin shortly after.

How do you change video format to mp4?

There are many different types of software to choose from for video converters.  In this example, we use Freemake, a simple, easy to use, and free video converter software option to convert a files to a MP4 file format.

You can easily select the video you want to convert, choose the appropriate device preset or video video format, and then give a destination filename and location for the converted video.  Finally, press the "Convert" /   Save button to let the magic video conversion process begin!  Here is a step-by-step guide to get started.

Step 1

Download the Freemake video converter software completely free on its official webpage.  Choose "Custom Installation" when given the choice for installation type.  Next, deselect the optional software when prompted during the installation process.  Freemake includes a bundle of extra additional software and features when installed if you choose the "automatic" installation option.

Step 2

Once Freemake is installed correctly to your computer, launch the app when prompted.  Next, click the "+ Video" button on the top left of the window.  Then navigate to the video you would like to convert.  In this example, we will select the .AVI video  format.

Step 3

Next, click the "to MP4" button at the bottom of the window.  You can also click the "..." button next to the "Save to" dropdown menu option to choose a destination filename and location to save the final converted video file.  The default setting will save the final converted video file to the same folder as the source video file.

Step 4

The final step is to click the blue "Convert" button to begin the video conversion process with the Freemake software.  You also have the option to click on the blue cog icon (shaped like a gear or wheel with projections on it) in order to make any final changes to the video before converting.  You have the option to change different video settings such as the resolution, video codec, frame size, width, height, adjustment, frame rate, bitrate type,  bitrate (Kbps), audio code, channels, sample rate, and bitrate.

hand on a laptop

Conclusion

If you are looking for an easy way for converting your video file to a specific video format, you are in luck with many options of free video converter software available for download. 

Converting videos to your desired video format is not daunting at all.  It just takes a little time following instructions.

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