Skip to content
Matthew MisterNov 26, 2019 1:54:45 PM1 min read

What is the difference?: Codecs and containers

If you work in video editing you already know that there are a wide variety of codecs available for editors. Each one of these codecs will result in a different file format. Many video platforms have their own set of accepted codecs so you need to be cognizant of which codec your videos final destination supports.

When talking about codecs you'll also here the word container thrown around. Let's dig into the difference between the two.

What is a codec?

Codecs are a method for encoding and decoding video data. The encoding process is where video data is compressed for faster transmission or to make a file smaller. The decoder takes the compressed video files and makes them usable for playback or video editing. There are a number of codecs available for video editors, the most commonly used being h.264. Certain cameras have their own codecs like .R3D or AVCHD.

What is a container?

A container for video files packages the various parts of the file. This includes the visual images as well as the audio tracks and graphics. Containers are also referred to as a the format of that file. The common video containers are .mov .mp4.

So whats the difference?

While both codecs and containers are important pieces of the final project you deliver they are very similar. The main difference is that the codec is the actual software that does the compressing of your video file, while the container is the package the final project is delivered in for playback.