Video codecs are often misunderstood, or in some cases forgotten completely. However they are arguably the most important part of the video format, and it is crucial that you know why that is the case – and what they do.
“What is a Video Codec?”
Simply put a video codec is a tool that encodes and decodes video data using specific algorithms. The algorithms are designed to compress the video data so that it takes up less space when it is stored in the video file within the container format that is used.
The decoder in the video codec then proceeds to decompress the video data for playback, allowing it to be viewed on your display.
Both the encoder and the decoder in the video codec are important. Without the encoder it would be impossible to compress and store the video data, whereas without the decoder it wouldn’t be possible to view it.
“Why are Video Codecs Important?”
Now that you know what video codecs are, you may already be starting to see why they are important. Suffice to say they are what determines the compression that is used by the video (whether lossless or lossy) and therefore its file size.
Not all codecs use the same algorithms to compress videos, and in fact the algorithms are constantly being improved on over time. That is why newer video codecs are able to provide more efficient compression and reduce the file size more while retaining the same video quality.
Aside from its role in compression, the video codec is also the main factor in determining whether a video format is supported by specific devices. If a device has the right decoder to view the data encoded by the video codec – it is supported. On the other hand if it does not, the video codec will not be supported.
It should be noted that some formats have stricter specifications that affect their compatibility aside from the video codec. It can encompass the audio codec, frame rate, resolution, and other video settings. For example to convert a video to DVD format, you will need to follow a strict set of specifications in order for it to be compatible.
On the other hand learning how to convert DVD to MP4 is relatively easy, and for example you can do it quickly in Movavi Video Converter. That is because MP4 has less strict specifications and so long as the codec you use is supported – you should have no trouble viewing it on most devices.
Now that you understand the role that video codecs play, you should see why they are important. To put it simply the video codec you choose can affect both the file size of the video as well as its compatibility.