What Is The Difference Between Codecs & Containers ? Brief Explanation For Streaming Media

codecs container difference


In streaming media industry there are various terms available which makes confusion in proper understating. Because some of the terms works simultaneously while streaming. So sometimes it makes hard for us to understand the concept behind it.

Today in this article we are going to cover on of these terms which generates the confusion in mind while understanding and working on it. Because these two terms are having different functions.

These terms are Codecs and Containers. Lets now discuss more about it to clear the confusion.

What Are Codecs ?

what are codecs

Codec is the short hand of the term Compression Decompression. Codecs are used to compress or decompress the information. Where this information can be Audio, VIdeo, Image and Data.

So there are four types of Codecs audio Codecs, Video Codecs, Image Codecs and Data Codecs.

Codecs are used to encode the raw data in digital format. So that this encoded data can be send easily on reliable or unreliable medium. At the receiving end digital data is decoded back by using same codec which we used while encoding the data.

For Example,

If we encode a video using the HEVC codec then at the receiving end we need to use same codec HEVC to decode the video for playing.

Example Of Some Codecs are AVI , H.263, H.264, H.265, MPEG 4, JPEG, MP3 and AAC etc.

Explain Me Briefly What Are Codecs And Concept Behind It ?

What Are Containers ?

what are containers

Containers are used to send audio and video content from one place to another. Where medium can be internet or a storage media like Pen Drive and Hard Disc.

So a container combines all the audio video stream with its metadata and represent in a single file format. This file format can be MP4, MKV and AVI etc. So these file format are called the containers.

A Container can contain the various codecs audio video codecs.

Example Of Some Containers are MP4, AVI, MKV and OGG etc.

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Explain Me What Are Containers In Brief ?

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What Is Difference Between Codec & Container ?

Containers  Codecs
MP4AVC, HEVC and HE-AAC etc.
WMVAVC and ACM etc.
MKVAlmost Anything Virtually
QuickTimeAVC, HEVC and Theora etc.
OGGTheora, MNG and Vorbis etc.
TSMPEG 2, MPEG 4, AC-3 and AAC etc.
MXFAlmost Anything Virtually
F4VAVC, MP3 and HE-AAC etc.

The concept of codec is to just encode and decode the data to reduce the size of content. While container is used to package this data then transport it and represent at the receiving end.

A MP4 container contains the MPEG 4 codec and H.264 codec etc. Likewise a TS container contains the various codecs like MPEG 2 and MPEG 4 etc.

Here MP4 and TS are the two different container. While H.264 and MPEG 4 are the supported codecs of video inside it. A single container can contain various codecs in it.

Difference Between H.263 , H.264 & H.265 ?


Do not ever confuse between codecs and containers because these two are the totally two different things. Because container contains mainly three things audio content , video content and metadata.

Where it is necessary for us to compress the video file by using the codecs before sending it over internet. Because codecs uses the algorithm to reduce the size of video.

Because a uncompressed video of one hour of full hd at 1080i @ 60 fps consumes near about 410 GB space. Which is very large file to store.

In streaming media industry most widely used container is the MP4 because it supports various codecs as explained in the table above. H.265 provides good video quality in small bandwidth. H.265 codec is used specially for 4K videos streaming.

Suggested Articles

What Are Codecs ?

What Are Containers ?

What Is Data Compression ?

reference : 3gpp

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