A video codec ( video codec also ) indicates a pair of algorithms, that allows the encoding and decoding of digital video material. In general, the video compression used is lossy it.


During compression, a compressed data stream is generated from the video source with the aid of an algorithm, which is then transmitted or stored. For playback of the compressed data inverse algorithms must be used. The time required for compression, transmission, decompression, and playback of the video data is referred to as latency.

A matched pair of algorithms is referred to as a video codec (encoder / decoder, English for coder / decoder ). Can implement algorithms pairs in software or hardware. A variety of video codecs are usually not compatible with each other, which means that video content that has been compressed with an encoder of a codec, can not be decompressed with a decoder of a different codec.

Applications / dissemination

Typical applications of video codecs such as video cameras and smartphones. In current multi-media devices often high-performance video codecs such as H.264 used. Progressively increased computing performance enables a high compression rate with high video quality still.

When editing video and computer animation, in Media Center PCs, DVD players or software media players find video codecs in both software and hardware implementation of their application. They allow you to save and read out of video material in a predetermined format using container files. In broadcasting video codecs are used in the transmission of digital television. The increasing use of video material for disclosure of information on the Internet and, as in radio, system technology -related limitations of bandwidth in the use of this medium require the use of effective video codecs. Example, uses the video portal YouTube H.246 and VP8.


There is a balance between the video quality, the quantity of data needed to represent it (also known as the bit rate), the complexity of the algorithms used for encoding, decoding and error correction and the resulting computing power needed as well as a number of other information technology factors.