Technology »Codec

Codec Definition

Sometimes, when we try to play videos or songs on a computer or mobile device, the corresponding software informs us that we have a codec problem, usually consisting of the lack of the appropriate codec installed to play the content.

But what is this about codecs, which bothers us so much and causes us inconvenience? By definition, a codec is

a piece of software that can encode a certain signal and / or decode it

To put it in some way, it is an “interpreter” that allows us to understand a series of digital data encoded in a certain way.

And why are they so necessary? Because

digital audio and video information takes up a lot of space when it is treated “raw”, so compression mechanisms are needed to reduce the size of the files to be manipulated

In this way, the codecs allow us to listen to entire music discs that occupy only a few megabytes, compared to the gigabytes they could occupy if we did not use coding , and the same for movies.

Whenever we compress audiovisual data in digital format , we lose information and, with it, quality . The smaller size we want, more compression, and more loss.

Codecs are simple mathematical algorithms whose function is to save a part of the information, playing, for example, with areas of similar colors in the frames of a movie, or by cutting certain frequencies imperceptible to the human ear in an audio.

There are lossless codecs, although the file size they leave is quite large. We also find fairly balanced codecs, which reduce the size of the files sufficiently to be manageable, and whose loss of quality is virtually imperceptible.

In a movie, we can use a codec for video, and a different one for audio

And we both have to save them, along with some kind of signal or functionality that allows us to synchronize them, in the same file , with a file format of the so-called “containers”.

A codec is not a specific program, but the idea to handle them is that they are more like a driver that we install in the system and, from that moment, all programs may be able to work with the files encoded by that codec .

However, this is not always the case, and many times the support for codecs is embedded in the same programs that allow the reproduction of audiovisual content, without being shared through the rest of programs that perform the same task and are installed in the computer.

Photos: Fotolia - Avanne Troar / profit_

Author: Guillem Alsina González | Site: - definition | Date: April 2017 | URL: /tecnologia/codec.php
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