A video codec is a device or software that enables video compression and/or decompression for digital video. The compression usually employs lossy data compression. Historically, video was stored as an analog signal on magnetic tape. Around the time when the compact disc entered the market as a digital-format replacement for analog audio, it became feasible to also begin storing and using video in digital form, and a variety of such technologies began to emerge.
Audio and video call for customized methods of compression. Engineers and mathematicians have tried a number of solutions for tackling this problem.
There is a complex balance between the video quality, the quantity of the data needed to represent it (also known as the bit rate), the complexity of the encoding and decoding algorithms, robustness to data losses and errors, ease of editing, random access, the state of the art of compression algorithm design, end-to-end delay, and a number of other factors.
Digital video codecs are found in DVD systems (players, recorders), Video CD systems, in emerging satellite and digital terrestrial broadcast systems, various digital devices and software products with video recording and/or playing capability. Online video material is encoded by a variety of codecs, and this has led to the availability of codec packs - a pre-assembled set of commonly used codecs combined with an installer available as a software package for PCs.
Encoding media by the public has seen an upsurge with the availability of CD and DVD-writers.
Video codec design
Video codecs seek to represent a fundamentally analog data set in a digital format. Because of the design of analog video signals, which represent luma and color information separately, a common first step in image compression in codec design is to represent and store the image in a YCbCr color space. The conversion to YCbCr provides two benefits: first, it improves compressibility by providing decorrelation of the color signals; and second, it separates the luma signal, which is perceptually much more important, from the chroma signal, which is less perceptually important and which can be represented at lower resolution to achieve more efficient data compression. It is common to represent the ratios of information stored in these different channels in the following way Y:Cb:Cr. Refer to the following article for more information about Chroma subsampling.
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