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Codecs and Containers - TreetWiki

Codecs and Containers

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(Created page with '=== The Facts === Video delivery, whether by streaming media or through a regular file (such as an MP4) file involves two distinct, and very different technology concepts: [[cod...')
(The Problem)
At first this seems straightforward, but it's not.  The problem lies in the confusion and imprecision in the common use of these terms.  To make matters worse, software companies try to simplify their documentation and instructions by ignoring the difference altogether.  The result is that people believe that phrases like "I'll give you an AVI file," or "An MP4 file will be fine" are legitimate ways to talk about video.  In reality, such statements are meaningless, and if you learn some of the basics described here you will be well on your way to becoming a video guru.
At first this seems straightforward, but it's not.  The problem lies in the confusion and imprecision in the common use of these terms.  To make matters worse, software companies try to simplify their documentation and instructions by ignoring the difference altogether.  The result is that people believe that phrases like "I'll give you an AVI file," or "An MP4 file will be fine" are legitimate ways to talk about video.  In reality, such statements are meaningless, and if you learn some of the basics described here you will be well on your way to becoming a video guru.
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As an example of the kind of headaches you can have over this, consider H.264.  It is a codec.  It is also, quite correctly called "MPEG-4 Layer 10".  More properly it is an implementation of the ISO/IEC 14496-10 standard.  Informally, it is sometimes called an AVC codec, also correct but less precise.  Often, but by no means always, this codec is used packaged inside an .MP4 file, but an MP4 file can also contain other codecs, not all of them as good as H.264 and some quite outdated.    But, almost without thinking, even professionals say "Send me an MP4 file", or "YouTube accepts MP4 files" which is only true if your MP4 file uses a supported coded.
+
As an example of the kind of headaches you can have over this, consider H.264.  It is a codec.  It is also, quite correctly called "MPEG-4 Layer 10".  More properly it is an implementation of the ISO/IEC 14496-10 standard.  Informally, it is sometimes called an AVC codec, also correct but less precise.  Often, but by no means always, this codec is used packaged inside an .MP4 file, but an MP4 file can also contain other codecs, not all of them as good as H.264 and some quite outdated.    But, almost without thinking, even professionals say "Send me an MP4 file", or "YouTube accepts MP4 files" which is only true if your MP4 file uses a supported codec.
Ouch.  Isn't this a pain?
Ouch.  Isn't this a pain?

Revision as of 23:10, 12 May 2009

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