What are video codecs?

Video files are stored in a certain way as a collection of 1s and 0s. If the entire color information of each pixel is stored separately, you get a file that is not compressed (uncompressed). These are very large files that are very expensive to store and can be played back properly on few systems. In practice, therefore, video is almost always compressed. This results in many small files that take up less space (therefore cost). A video codec defines the way in which video files are compressed.

Codecs are constantly evolving. Here is an overview of the most popular codecs currently used for video and film.

In order to test whether your video editing program or equipment such as your smart TV can play a particular codec, I have also included a sample video of each codec mentioned in the sample codec pack that you can download.

H.264 and ProRes

Currently, we recommend these the following two codecs: H.264 and ProRes.

H.264 is intended for video distribution/delivery, while ProRes is intended for post-production. If you want to perform simple editing or playback of a video, you can use H.264, but if you want to perform heavy editing with lots of transitions, effects, layers and color adjustment, it is best to use ProRes.

ProRes is meant for video professionals as an intermediate format and not meant for being able to peel off. Many devices such as TVs cannot handle ProRes!

Van Eck Video Services delivers H.264 as standard. If you want a different format (such as ProRes you can specify it).

Bitrate / file size overview

Format H264 Bit rate (mb/sec) H264 GB/hour Prores 422 HQ Bit rate (mb/sec) Prores 422 HQ GB/hour
SD video (720×576) 7 3 30 13
HD movie (1920×1080) 19 9 100 45
4K movie 3840×2160) 80 38 230 100

Codec example download

If you want to verify whether your video editing program can read a codec properly, you can download our codec sample package(van-eck-codec-pack-v3.zip) (1.7 GB).

Description codecs: codec-overview3.pdf

This package contains a 30-second video clip of the above codecs.

More questions?

Let us know via the contact form