The three main standards are:
Video for Windows (AVI). That comes as standard with Windows 95 and Windows NT, and therefore is the thing that people are most likely to have and use. You can get it for Win 3 as an add-on.
All video is compressed, and ecompressed at run time. The compression/decompression algorithms are called a "codec", and there are several around. I'll be using the Intel Indeo R3.2 codec, although sometimes I might not be able to convert clips to that.
Each video plays in a window, which might be anything from 120 by 90 pixels (tiny) to 320 by 240 (called quarter-screen, because it fits neatly in a quarter of a 640 by 480 VGA screen). If it originally was PAL, then it might be 384 by 288. There are a few larger, but this is exceptional.
NTSC (the US and Japanese standard) runs at 30 frames per second; PAL (European standard) runs at 25 fps. Some of these clips were digitised at 10fps, which means they might not look smooth. Run times of clips are anything from a few seconds, up to 18 minutes.
Quicktime (MOV). This was Apple's standard, and comes with every Apple Mac, but you can get a player for Windows.
MPEG (MPEG) designed by the Motion Pictures Expert Group, and if it's as good as JPEG then it's the one to use, to get the most video per megabyte of file. JPG compression is remarkable in the quality you get per kilobyte, so I'd expect MPEG to be good too. Indications are that you can get twice the video per megabyte compared to Quicktime. Some systems now come with MPEG capability as standard, you have to download a player. If you're really serious, you can buy an MPEG board for a hundred bucks or so. The Matrox cards (which I use) include MPG in the hardware.
Most videos floating around the internet seem to be AVIs, with MOV trailing way behind, and MPG coming up fast. I'd strongly advise the serious fan to get all three players, because I don't think conversion between the formats is going to be easy, without serious loss of quality.
My advice is to download the video you like the sound of, and then feed it into your video player.
If you don't already have an MPEG player, there's a few.
To edit video, you really want to be working with AVI. Then you can use Premiere or Mediastudio. One of those two comes with most video capture cards. If you don't have it already, then Premiere will cost several hundred dollars, Mediastudio a little bit less.
To edit MPGs, the best thing I've seen is the software that comes with Pinnacle capture hardware. It works even if you don't use the hardware, so the way to get it, is buy their cheapest hardware. You can also use it to combine short MPGs into a long one.
Here's a shareware AVI and MPG editor. I haven't tried it.
Several Mac users have reported difficulty using Quicktime version 4 to play some of the MPGs on this site. One user has reported that this problem is fixed by using Quicktime version 5
A few more useful files: