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MP4 Explained

Friday, June 8th, 2007 by | Filed Under: Multimedia
 
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Q:
Can you explain to me what an MP4 is? I’ve obviously heard of MP3, but now there’s an MP4?! I’m so lost and confused. Please help!

A:
Basically, MP4 files are compressed video files. Their main purpose is to make video files much smaller so that they are easier to work with and support. Video files used to be very big in size and they were very difficult to work with. But now, the same files are compressed with the same material and they go by the new name of MP4s.

MP4 files work very similarly to MP3 files in that they are compressed files that do not affect the quality of sound. (In case you’re not sure, MP3s are music and audio files, so an MP4 is just taking that to the next level with videos). The term MP4 is also known as MPEG-4 AVC, which stands for advanced video coding. Now, if you’re still not sure how the whole MP4 technology works, make sure you keep reading, because it’s going to get even more interesting, I promise!

Since MP4s deal mostly with video files, they are a little more complex than the MP3 music and audio files. But, they are still able to be compressed by using special coding procedures. For example, certain aspects of the files are minimized. Those are usually the temporal and spatial redundancies. The motion and intra estimations of the frequencies are usually transformed as well. And last, but not least, the file goes through a lot of compression and decompression, which is referred to as codec.

Now, I’m sure you’re probably wondering if there’s such a thing as an MP4 player, right? Well, yes there is. It works just like any other media player. You can purchase the device at any regular electronics store and you then just hook it up to your computer or television. It really is that easy, even if it doesn’t seem like it!

Of course, as with everything else, the MP4 technology has its ups and downs. Let’s start with the advantages. MP4s are able to produce videos with a DVD quality at a rate of 1 Mbps or less with a broadband Internet connection. (That’s blazing fast!) So, if you were to get an MP4 player, you could get your videos and watch them in a matter of seconds. MP4 players can also play older MP formats, including MP3 audio files.

As for the disadvantages, there will more than likely be several piracy issues within the MP4 technology. The MP3 format went through this as well. As you may already know, there are pirated versions of movies on the Internet that are ready for download at any time. So, with MP4s mainly dealing with videos, the piracy problems are sure to get out of hand as this technology becomes more and more popular. Just keep an eye out for that!

So, there it is. The MP4 technology explained for you in as simple of terms as I could come up with. I do hope you have a better understanding of this now and who knows, maybe you’ll be the next person to start MP4ing around!

~ Erin

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