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While engaging in some media processing (ripping DVD to .avi to watch on my laptop), I became interested in all the technicalities I encountered regarding the video and audio encoding etc. What are recommended activities and resources I can engage in and consult to build a good, solid knowledge of modern media technologies? I am a very technical person, so I don't need "For Dummies" resources, but more something like detailed technical introductions.

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Wiki has some interesting details, btw – Sathya Oct 6 '10 at 16:39
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Just a very brief rundown:

For video, the major formats concerning DVDs/AVIs: MPEG-1, MPEG-2 / VOB, MPEG4 / MP4 / H.263, FLV, WMV, MVK For audio: AAC, MP2, MP3

MPEG-1 typically isn't used much, unless it's for importing video from a camera, or as a common format for using among a wide range of video editors or players.

MPEG-2 / VOB is what's on a playable DVD, which is paired with MP2 audio

MPEG-4 / MP4 / H.263 is what's typically in use for video files these days. It's often paired with AAC or MP3 audio.

FLV is flash video, which is paired with MP3 audio. Flash video has largely been seen on sites which use flash video players. However, many sites have been migrating over to MPEG-4 / H.263.

WMV used to be in wide use, but not so much anymore. It's typically limited to live streaming nowadays. The compression rate is impressive.

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A more up-to-date answer:

If you really want to know the fine details I suggest reading a book on the subject (this can be university level stuff). It is easiest to start with image processing, then move on to video and audio encoding.

Wikipedia has a lot of info on the various media formats and containers. The main thing to know is that containers are not formats. They are simply ways of ordering the data/bytes belonging to video/audio/subtitle streams. These streams may be compressed in various ways depending on the encoding format.

Common Video Formats/codecs: - MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 part 2, VC-1, MPEG-4 part 10, HEVC. Note mpeg4 part 2 is also (slightly incorrectly) referred to as h263 or mpeg4 ASP. mpeg4 part 10 is known as h264 or mpeg4 AVC.

Common Video Containers: - flv(adobe, browser friendly), avi (microsoft), mov(apple), mkv(open spec), mp4(MPEG-4 part 14), m2ts(blu-ray)

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