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Codecs are a difficult thing to explain. They essentially are the “encoding” and “decoding” of a file’s stream (the stream being images, audio, subtitles, etc.).

The main purpose of a codec is to compress the data so files are small, and then decompress then on playback. Many codecs compress with the effect of dataloss (i.e. a non lossless codec) while others are not (i.e. lossless codec). Depending on the type of codec used to encode your data, file size will vary where lossless will be larger.

There are numerous codecs, each pertaining different strengths and weaknesses, and peculiarities which can enhance or disrupt a workflow.

Knowing the right codec will help you, especially on editing and importing your footage into you editing software (ProRes for Final Cut, Avid DNxHD for Avid Media Composer, a matching codec to the sequence for Premiere, etc.).

Invest in codec know how and you will not be pulling your hair out!

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