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Web Development

Vive la difference (between media formats)

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I was recently asked this question, which is not exactly a web-development question, but I’d like to share the answer, anyway:


when someone sends a pps what is the difference to a wmv ?
I just thought they were applications of media files opening up in certain players?
can you explain a bit more?

Sure. No problem.

PowerPoint Slideshowpps is the extension that is used for PowerPoint slide-show presentations. This is a Micro$oft proprietary format, that requires at least a PowerPoint reader on the machine that it is to be viewed on. Now, these files are essentially just descriptions of appearance and functionality, so they are small. However, if they contain lots of media stuff, such as images, videos, etc. these have to be included in it, albeit in a compressed form. So that bloats the files. In the end, they can be pretty big.

is the extension used by Windows Media Video. This is a Micro$oft wrapper around a video file and is designed, originally to be played in Windows Media Player, although most video viewers can handle them, these days. Another commonly used wrapper is avi (Audio-Video Interleaf). There are other wrappers, also. (BTW There are also other types of video, without the same sort of wrappers, such as mpeg, mpg, mp4, mov etc., which may or may not use strong compression, to reduce size.)

The contents of the wrapper may be just the same, regardless of the wrapper itself, and, presuming they are compressed to make the files smaller, may use any sort of compression software, for both the video and the audio parts.

CodecsThis compression is done by some piece of software, called a codec (coding/decoding) . Naturally, to view (and hear) the video, you must have the same codec(s) on your machine, as the person, who made it, used to encode the video. Fortunately, most of the usual ones are already on most machines. If you can’t play some video that you get, it’s usually because of missing codecs.

BTW There is a program called VLC (VideoLan Client), which is both an encoding and decoding software. Windows Media Player only decodes. VLC includes a huge library of codecs, so it can play almost any video at all (PowerPoint is not video, BTW, – although it may contain video).VLC

IMHO VLC is the best way to view video on a computer, even if you don’t want to make a video, yourself, which it is also capable of doing. It actually does much more, including broadcast quality streaming, but the beautiful thing is that it is OpenSource software, so no-one’s trying to get you to pay anything for it. It is a labour of love, by many people over many years.

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