You can convert movie clips, animations, and slide shows to a movie format. The typical movie formats are AVI, MOV, MPEG and WMV. There can be many reasons for wanting to convert to or from these formats. It is important to note that in many cases converting between formats may cause a loss of quality. The loss will depend on the format you are converting to and any settings selected during the conversion.
Generally, during the video editing process, it is best to keep the file in its original format until editing is complete. When capturing video from a device, such as a digital camcorder, it is best to capture at the best settings your software will allow. Generally, this digital video file will be saved in an AVI format. This can use a lot of hard drive space, however, and can quickly become a storage hog.
When you are ready to convert the video, it is important to consider what you will be doing with it. Do you want to make a DVD? Do you want something you and your friends can watch on your iPod or cell phone? Or, are you hoping to post a movie on the Internet of Uncle Bob doing the Chicken dance?
If you are wanting to create a DVD, then you will need to convert your video files into MPEG2 format. Many video conversion software packages will specifically include a DVD compliant MPEG2 format as one of the conversion choices, making the process even easier. Some software packages specialize in the creation of DVDs from video capture all the way though to the actual burning of the DVD, and they will even convert your videos for you to the correct format.
Creating Video CDs or VCDs are similar in some ways to creating a DVD, except that your video files will need to be converted to MPEG1 format, which is a lower quality than MPEG2. Also, VCDs can only store about an hour's worth of video. Again, many video editing and conversion software packages will have a specific setting for creating VCD compliant video files.
If you are wanting to post video files on the Internet, then you'll definitely need to convert that 12 gigabyte AVI or your DVD quality movie into a format that is much smaller. Popular formats are WMV (Windows Media File), DIVX, and MPEG4. Because of compression and even the resizing of your video to a smaller size, these formats will most likely not have the same level of quality of the original file. But, since you are wanting to post your movie on the Internet, a smaller file size might allow even those with dial-up access to view your latest masterpiece.
One of the latest trends is portable video. It seems that yesterday's portable electronics have all now sprouted color screens to allow you to take your movies with you. This includes the video iPod and other devices that used to only play music, portable video game systems, PDAs, and now the cell phone. There are now watches available with small screens for playing videos. Many of these devices can play movies that have been compressed into MPEG4 format. Many popular video editing and conversion software packages can now convert to this format. In addition, many of these devices will come packaged with software that will convert many formats to its preferred (or even proprietary) format. Just remember, in converting these files to fit onto your portable devices, you are sacrificing a measure of quality and video resolution. You may want to keep the unconverted file on your PC for watching on a larger screen.
Deciding on which video conversion software to get will entirely depend on you and your needs. If you are experienced in the world of video editing and conversion, you may opt for the feature rich programs that can cost hundreds of dollars. Depending on your computer's operating system, you may even have software already installed that can do some basic editing and conversion. Some software creators will offer trial versions of their editing and conversion software on the Internet, allowing you to try several different packages to find just the right one.