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Understanding Video Codecs and Compression


On this video published in late 2018 Gerald Undone takes a look at the very important and complex topic of video codecs and video compression. Although this is far from an exhausting coverage of these topics it is a very good introduction and will help you understand some of the key points.

What is a container? what does a codec do? what are H.264 and H.265 and what is All-Intra, what are the benefits of ProRes and what are its disadvantages? If these (and many more) are questions that you might have this video is most certainly something that you want to spend some time watching.

This is a long video with a LOT of technical information. Undone was kind enough to provide a sort of a table of contents with times so you can jump to any specific point in the video if you like.

0:55 – What Is a Codec?
1:11 – Codec Intent Explained
1:46 – Video File Containers (MP4, MOV, etc.)
2:15 – Naming Conventions: H.264 vs AVC
2:46 – Sony’s XAVC & XAVC-S
3:18 – What’s the Difference between H.264 & XAVC?
3:34 – The MXF Container (Material Exchange Format)
3:55 – The “Level” of H.264
4:24 – The “Profile” of H.264
4:41 – Brief Explanation of Bit Depth and Chroma Subsampling
5:05 – H.264 for Acquisition, Post-Processing, & Delivery?
6:00 – The Shortcomings of H.264
6:28 – Some Notes on HEVC H.265
6:56 – All-I vs IPB LongGOP on Editing Performance
8:20 – The Limitations of All-Intra
9:17 – Intermediary Codecs: Apple ProRes vs Avid DNxHR
10:30 – The Purpose of Proxies: Should You Convert H.264 to Edit?
11:35 – Using ProRes & DNxHR as Acquisition Codecs
12:02 – Bitrate Comparison (LongGOP vs All-I vs ProRes vs DNxHR)
14:17 – Why the Black Magic Pocket Cinema 4K Is So Special
14:36 – Atomos Ninja V: The Best Solution for Hybrid Shooters
15:40 – SD Cards vs SSD Price/GB (SD Cards Are Too Expensive)
16:30 – Practical Conclusions: Picking the Right Codec

Bonus video: Undone’s look at 4:2:2 vs. 4:2:0 in the real world

You can find more photography related technology videos on our photo-tech section here on LensVid.

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