Exhibit Studio Blog

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Audio/Video: Playing videos on the trade show floor

Posted Topics: A/V |

These days so many people are incorporating multimedia into their displays, whether it's a small presentation on a loop or playing a movie on a video wall. With all the different devices and operating systems around, we tend to see issues with compatibility between different audio/video formats and codecs.

This Blog has been created to help you be more prepared when working with Multi-Media on the show floor. It’s heartbreaking to witness exhibitors scramble to address AV bugs and neglect focussing on the people they came to engage with in the first place.

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Let's talk audio/video formats

If you have a video player or a TV with the ability to play videos, check the owner's manual first for the best format recommended. The size of your video and the resolution it requires can impact which format you should be using.

What does each format mean?

Here is a list of common video formats that are used today:

  • AVI (Audio Video Interleave) Can be read by multiple codecs and works on a variety of devices such as Mac, Windows, Linux and most web browsers
  • WMV (Windows Media Video) Originally designed for web streaming, these files are normally compressed and often result in poor video quality
  • MP4 (Moving Pictures Expert Group 4) The file sizes are relatively small, yet the quality remains high. It is supported by mobile and standard browsers
  • MOV (Apple QuickTime Movie) One of the best-looking file formats, the files are high quality and are bigger in file size. The QuickTime media player is required to play these files
  • FLV (Flash Video Format) Is the most commonly used format on the web. The files are encoded by Adobe Flash and offer high-quality video in a small file size

I prefer to use MP4, as it gives me the least amount of grief. MP4's work with most TV media players and uses the most common codec H.264/MPEG-4

Codecs are used for encoding and decoding digital data signals. This is internal software within each media player that will read certain video formats. Not all media players will have the codecs required to play every video file (there are multiple video formats readily available as technology continues to advance). By understanding the compatibility of your media player and knowing what format your video is in, determines if you have the right codec needed.

When renting a media player - always be prepared

If you are renting a TV and media player from a trade show supplier, submit your video file way in advance so the company can test the video ahead of the show and address any issues. If you are renting from Show Services, you should ask what type of format works best with their provided device and always test it out with as much time as possible before the show (preferably the night before). This takes away the stress of potential clients watching you troubleshoot once the show starts.

You have a TV, do you need a media player?

If you are renting from the show you could be provided with both the Television and the Media Player. If you are renting and they provide both or if you have a television yourself, we would recommend purchasing a media player regardless. Televisions can come equipt with a USB port but sometimes, videos aren't recognized this way as the monitor may not have the correct software. By investing in a media player your AV department or Exhibit company can convert your file to a format that will work with your media player. This will also provide you with confidence and flexibility when presenting your content time and again.

What media player should you buy?

When purchasing a Media Player you will want to choose one that you can use with ease on the show floor, converts to more formats and allows you to do audio repeats as well as continuous loops.

Why can't you play your PowerPoint or PDF?

PowerPoint presentations and PDFs are not videos and cannot be played on media players or TVs. You will require a computer to run these programs correctly on a screen.


Exhibit Studio is a full service trade show display company based in Calgary, Alberta. Author David Stokes is not only co-owner but our in-house technical wizard, if you have an AV problem, David can solve it!