The Technology of Converting Video Tapes to Digital

Video File Types


There are over 500 different type of video files.

There are more than 50 different video player apps.

There are 13 main operating systems in the world, each with several versions

For MAC computers, you get Quicktime files. 

For Windows, we send MP4 

MPEG-4 H.264 files.

We searched through thousands of combinations in search of a single file type that will play on everything.  

It doesn't exist.  

Most MAC computers can play a MP4 file, but not all.  Most Windows computers can play a Quicktime file, but not all.  So we let you choose.  

Mini DV



Partial listing of CODECs & their characteristics

Under the hood of playing a video on your computer

When you hover on a video file in File Explorer or Finder and hit PLAY here is what happens:

  1. The computer will run a video player application
  2. The application will examine the file you pointed to, and extract the file information
  3. The application will look for a particular piece of code in your operating system called a CODEC that is unique to the file type
    • CODEC is software needed to decode the data in the video file.  Different CODECs are needed for each file type and each operating system.
    • If the right CODEC isn't there, your operating system will travel the internet to find it and download it.  
    • If this fails, you get an incompatible file message.
  4. The application uses the CODEC to decode the file, and will begin to play the video.

Choosing MEPG4-H.264

Step 1:

Figure out which apps will be used

This chart shows which video apps play on which type of computer operating system.  (click to zoom)

Partial listing of video apps and operating system compatibility

Partial listing of which CODECs are compatible with which video app

Step 2:

Figure out which CODEC is compatible with those apps

This chart shows which apps are compatible with what CODEC.  (click to zoom)


Covered 99% of the possible combinations for:

  • Desktops
    • Apple & Windows
  • Laptops and notebooks
  • Tablets
  • Smart phones

The missing 1%:

  • Old apple desktops that haven't upgraded their OS
    • 7 or more years old

What this means to you:

  • The movie will play on your computer
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