Posts with tag ‘codecs’

In continuing our tradition of “in simple words about complex”, and considering we do a lot of work on projects related to video content on the Internet, I want to address some questions about codecs and containers we get from our clients.

We’ll start with the fact that media information (video and audio) must be saved in a digital format, and it would be good if it were saved in a compressed format. Codecs do this (codec, coder-decoder). They convert media information into digital streams and back.


It shall be said that formally, codecs are the implementation of a coding/decoding standard, or in other words, a program or algorithm. Still, codecs are sometimes referred to as the coding standard.

In life, it’s always more complicated to display and process digital video than digital photo:

  • Video content takes up much more space.
  • Manipulating videos (compression, scaling, recoding) requires far more resources than converting photos.
  • Due to its size, video traffic far surpasses that of all other resources and still requires good bandwidth.

Typical video hosting (like YouTube) allows for:

  • Video uploading
  • Videos to be shown in different sizes/formats

However, making video uploads fast and efficient, like photos on Flickr, just doesn’t work. Hosts never save original videos, and to properly display them, it’s necessary to convert (transcode) the video to different formats: for Flash-players, mobile phones, iPhone/Android, etc. This transcoding requires a lot of processing time. This is why all video hosts have a queue, where uploaded videos await processing.