The Current State of Codecs

Videomaker by Chuck Peters

There's much more to visual communication than simply slapping a series of shots together. With video, you need to think about the way you connect your shots.

In the February 2010 issue of Videomaker, we featured an article asking, What is a CODEC? Due to the subject's complexity the piece was only able to scratch the surface of a subject that to many, is a vast well of technical mumbo-jumbo. This article presents a codec "state of the union" as it were, a revisit of some of the basics as we dig just a bit deeper into this ever-growing topic. We'll explore the variety of codecs available within two distinct families, Apple ProRes and the MPEG family. We'll also look at effective media management through the use of these codecs, and more. Just know that this is a subject on which volumes can, have been and should be written. This article is simply meant to whet your appetite and answer some of those pesky questions you often have regarding which codec is right for you. However, before we get into the details, let's revisit the definition of a codec.

What It Is

The word codec is really the combination of two words: coder and decoder which, by the way, is exactly what they're designed to do. Codecs simply encode and compress streams of data for storage or decompress streams of data for playback or editing. Because digital video represents a huge amount of data, codecs are an essential component of the modern day process of video production, yet they're something that many of the most seasoned pros know little about. Let us shed a bit of light on the current state of codecs and how you can maximize their potential in your future productions. read more...

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