Container format

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A container format (from English container , container ') loaded in the information technology a data structure fixed, possibly with the various individual data streams formats to a data stream (for example, a container file can be merged) (multiplexing). The possibilities of different container formats differ greatly from one another. The simplest case is to combine several files into one archive file , as is the case with the TAR format , for example .

Building on this, the term container format is often used in such a way that the data it contains result in a meaningful whole - for example, to merge video data with audio data in such a way that they result in a playable film or to combine text information with images and other information to create a Composite document . Well-known and often used media container formats, especially for the joint storage of the image and sound data of a movie in a single data stream, are MP4 ( file extension .mp4), Matroska (.mkv, .mka), DivX (.divx) and the outdated AVI (.avi).

Media container

Some examples of media container formats

Containers usually contain data in various formats . The popular AVI container can, for example, contain an MPEG-4 video track created with the Xvid codec and an MP3 audio track created with LAME . Some container formats can also contain additional data such as subtitles, menu structures or additional audio tracks. Other container formats, however, can only contain audio data. For example, RIFF-WAVE containers usually contain an uncompressed audio track (mostly in PCM coding); MP3-coded audio data are also possible.

A multiplexer takes over the merging of the audio and video tracks in a container of a certain format . When playing, the tracks are separated again by a demultiplexer (also called a splitter ) so that they can then be decoded by the respective decoder.

Audio / video container formats

Audio / video container formats can contain at least one audio and one video stream. Some formats also allow the embedding of subtitles ( e.g. VOB , MP4 , MKV ), menu structures (e.g. VOB, MP4, DMF) or other content.

developer format File
3GPP 3gp .3gp a format optimized for mobile phones based on MP4.
Adobe Inc. Flash video .flv a format optimized for web streaming. Up until Flash 6 , Macromedia used the Sorenson video format. From version 8, VP6 was used by TrueMotion . This was followed by VP7 and from 2008 VP8 .
Apple QuickTime .mov, .qt the container format of the playback software of the same name. It contained the Sorenson video format in previous versions and today it contained AVC .
Blu-ray Disc Association BDAV MPEG-2 Transport Stream .m2ts, .mts The container format for Blu-ray Disc video. The format is a modified MPEG-2 transport stream.
DivX Networks DivX Media Format .divx is based on AVI and contains MPEG-4 ASP video streams encoded with DivX .
DVD forum Video Object .vob the container format for DVD-Video and mostly MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 compressed.
Enhanced VOB .evo the container format for HD DVD video.
Google WebM .webm The WebM standard consists of the video format VP8 or its successor VP9 and the audio format Vorbis or Opus in a container format based on a subset of Matroska.
Matroska Matroska .mkv, .mka an open source container format for almost all available video formats.
Microsoft Advanced streaming format .asf, .wmv,
Part of the Windows Media Framework , is natively supported by all current Windows versions and contains proprietary video formats from Microsoft.
Audio video interleave .avi an older RIFF -based format which, despite its technically limited possibilities, is still widely used today.
MPEG MPEG-1 system stream .mpg, .mpeg the official container for the MPEG-1 video format. Older VCD formats mainly used it. It is becoming less and less important.
MPEG-2 program stream .mpg, .mpeg,
almost identical to the MPEG-1 System Stream, but has a much better resolution and faster transport.
MPEG-2 transport stream .ts, .tsp like DVB, a container format optimized for error-prone transmission paths.
MP4 .mp4 the standard container format for MPEG-4 ASP / AVC video streams and is based on the Quicktime container format.
RealNetworks RealMedia .rm, .rmvb,
.ra, .ram
a container for RealAudio and RealVideo streams. The new codecs from Realmedia are based on MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 and a G2 audio compression that is similar to MP3 . Ogg .ogg .ogv the official container for Ogg formats.
Ogg Media .ogm is a hack of the Ogg container that has been expanded to include a few options.
unknown MXF .mxf Material Exchange Format. Very strict container. Mainly used in a professional broadcast environment.
OMFI .omf an Avid format used in TV editing systems. It is essentially based on MP2 -compressed or even uncompressed AVI.
DV .dv Digital video, developed for editing systems.

Other container formats

developer format File extension (s) Type Details
Adobe Inc. Portable Document Format .pdf Compound document for text, images and binary data
Tagged Image File Format .tif Raster graphics
Apple Audio Interchange File Format .aif, .aiff, .aifc, .ief, .snd Audio based on the Interchange File Format (IFF)
Electronic Arts ILBM photos based on the Interchange File Format (IFF)
ANIM Animations based on the Interchange File Format (IFF)
FTXT text based on the Interchange File Format (IFF)
Microsoft REEF WAVE .wav Audio based on the Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF)
Microsoft Exchange Message .msg e-mail for messages with attachments, calendar, etc.
Microsoft Outlook Personal Store .pst e-mail for all messages in MSG format
Virtual hard disk .vhd Virtual disk virtual hard disks and a. for Microsoft Virtual PC
Sun Microsystems Au .au, .snd Audio
VMware VMDK .vmdk Virtual disk virtual disks for VMware - Virtualization Products

Note: Audio-only container formats cannot contain video data.

See also