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Published Date: 24 November 2022

What is MP4?

MP4 or MPEG-4 Part 14 is one of the (oldest released in 2001) and most commonly used container formats for delivering video files. Developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG), it allows you to store audio and video content, subtitles, and other metadata in significantly smaller file sizes without drastically affecting video quality. Regardless of your purpose, if you've worked with video files, you're sure to have come across MP4 files.

How does MP4 encoding work?

The MP4 container format can separately store video, audio, subtitle, and other metadata—and each track can be encoded using a different codec:

  • Video data can be encoded using MPEG-4 Part 2, MPEG-4 Part 10 or H.264/AVC, and MPEG-H Part 2 or H.265/HEVC.
  • Audio data is encoded using AAC compression, similar to the compression utilized with AAC files. ​
  • Subtitle data is encoded using text formats such as MPEG-4 Part 17 and MPEG-4 Timed Text (MP4TT).
  • Metadata is compressed using the Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) format.

Advantages of MP4

Like any video file format, MP4 has its own set of advantages:

  • It is widely supported and can be used on various platforms.
  • It provides high-level compression, producing smaller file sizes while retaining video quality.
  • MP4 allows you to include metadata in your files.
  • It facilitates faster and more efficient digital distribution and streaming, considering its small file sizes.

Disadvantages of MP4

  • It is a lossy compression format, which implies information is lost during compression. Repeated compression can also affect video quality.
  • It does not offer high security; one can easily erase metadata and unlawfully distribute MP4 content.
  • MP4 requires significant computing power since it stores audio and video data.

Related Terms

Video Quality

In simple terms, video quality is the characteristic of a video that determines how clear, crisp, and detailed the video transmitted to the viewer is.

Video Watermark

A video watermark is a digital copyright tool used to identify the video's copyright owner or prevent illegal distribution.


1:1 is a commonly used aspect ratio in videography. It produces videos that are a perfect square; the width and height of the video image are the same.

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