Video and Sound File Formats
Many still digital cameras can also shoot video while recording sound. Although the results may not be as good as a dedicated digital camcorder, the quality can be quite acceptable and close to television quality. The following is not a complete list but highlights the main formats that are used in digital still cameras.
Video formats can record at various resolutions. The VGA format is equal to television quality at 30 frames per second (fps). Digital still cameras usually record video in one of the following standard resolutions. Not all of these resolutions will be available for all cameras that record video.
QQVGA = 160×120 (Quarter QVGA)
QVGA = 320×240 (Quarter VGA)
VGA = 640×480
With some cameras, the frames per second may change with the image size. Many digital still cameras record video with sound in this format. Some are limited to thirty seconds or so and others provide unlimited recording up to the limit of the camera's memory.
AVI Video Files
AVI is a video file format that stands for Audio Video Interleaved. It can contain both video and sound. Technically, it is called a metafile or container format, as its structure allows both audio and video in the same file and accommodates a variety of video and audio formats.
MPEG or MJPEG Video Files
MPEG (sometime listed as MJPEG) stands for Moving JPEG and has a file extension of .mpg. This is another video/audio format. It can be easily converted to an .avi.
QuickTime Video Files
QuickTime is an Apple format for video that is compatible with the Macintosh and also with Windows. It has a file extension of .mov.
WAV Sound Files
Like AVI files, WAV files are container files, but they only hold sound recordings. Many digital cameras are capable of recording sound along with video or sound by itself. Some cameras can even record in stereo. This file format has the extension .wav and is compatible with both Windows and Mac.
What in the world is a codec?
Media files must have the correct codec (compressor/decompressor) for each kind of file to play properly. A codec compresses and decompresses video and sound; the compression is lossy. If your media player does not have the correct codec, it usually can be found on the Internet and downloaded with very little trouble.
There are many conversion programs that allow importing and exporting a number of video file formats. For example, Adobe's Macromedia Flash can accommodate virtually any file format and create Internet-friendly animation or export or convert a file to another format.
Many digital cameras have a time-lapse feature that allows you to set time intervals between a sequence of shots and the total number of shots to be taken. The intervals can be a minute or an hour or a day. If you mount your camera on a tripod or place it securely on a bookshelf, you can create a series of still pictures or record a lively animated sequence similar to some MTV video clips. Use the AC power cord so that your camera does not run out of juice.
With an animation program, you can import a video sequence and manipulate it in a mind-boggling number of ways. These can then be exported in a form common to the Internet, such as a GIF animation or Flash video, so that virtually any browser can see your artwork.
You can take a video sequence apart and look at it one frame at a time. You can then save that still image just like a regular photograph. The only limitation is the resolution of the original frame, which is usually not very high. There are some software programs that are designed to make this job easy and allow you to work with a series of still images that originated in video format.