Container vs Codec

set wrote on 11/2/2013, 12:06 AM

I'm sure that almost all of us already able to distinguish between the container and the video or audio codec.

But, sometimes, we have situation where the client or our partner unable to notice the differences between them.
"Just give me AVI file" / "Please send your video in MOV format" / "I need it as MP4" etc.
When asked, what codec you need? They got confused, and say the similarity, "just AVI/MOV/MP4/etc"

So, we have to decide by ourselves...: What codec will you choose?



Richard Jones wrote on 11/2/2013, 7:04 AM
Thank you. That's very helpful.

BTW, you refer to two articles in your video but I can't see a link - can you provide one (them) please.

set wrote on 11/2/2013, 8:43 AM
Here's the link provided by 'Videomaker' group:
musicvid10 wrote on 11/2/2013, 9:53 AM
The best policy is to always require the full delivery specs in document form. It's our best protection when they come back and say, "Oh, we didn't mean that."

Taking orders over the phone from a minimally educated assistant is asking for trouble, and it is not our job to provide them that education. Either they know what they want, or they don't.

Besides, anyone who's worked in tech / engineering .support knows that AVI really stands for "Avoid Verbal Instructions."

earthrisers wrote on 11/2/2013, 8:32 PM
I still suffer from confusion between container and codec.
The Videomaker article that is linked to in the original message doesn't really clarify it, at least not to my fogged perceptions... The article gives an Analogy that starts this way:
"You can think of containers as a type of publication: a hardback book, a glossy magazine, a newspaper, a pamphlet, a gum wrapper - all of which can contain words and other things like photographs, or cartoons, and yet each one works in a different way. Think of the codec as the way of displaying the information you want in your publication."
But in the immediately following discussion, the article's writer uses hardback books, newspapers, gum wrappers, etc. as examples of both containers AND codecs.
That kind of annoyed me, because it leaves the container/codec difference unclear.
farss wrote on 11/2/2013, 8:48 PM
[I]"That kind of annoyed me, because it leaves the container/codec difference unclear."[/I]

Think of the language the book is written in as the codec.


Kimberly wrote on 11/2/2013, 10:49 PM
Pint, Quart, Half-Gallon?

Chocolate, Vanilla, Pralines & Cream?
PeterDuke wrote on 11/3/2013, 4:52 AM
If you use Mediainfo on your file, it will tell you what the container is (you already know this from the filename extension) and the codecs used with each media stream (video, audio, subtitles, etc) within the container.
videoITguy wrote on 11/3/2013, 4:27 PM
Even 'pro's " will get their discussions murky trying to distinguish what they are intending to say. One of the best reasons for this confusion is to realize that you can have a container designed to house only one codec. So in that case, the terms of container and codec can be debated - but you will be talking the same thing in reality. The worst sin committed by most of us, is that we think of some container/codec combinations as undisputable and talk about them as the virtual same spec. In Vegas Pro NLE - that sin is brought about by using the Sony MXF container/codec.
Laurence wrote on 11/4/2013, 11:08 AM
The one that confused me in the past was "mp4". That sure sounded like a codec name.
Grazie wrote on 11/4/2013, 11:24 AM
Pint, Quart, Half-Gallon?

Proper British Beer, Lager, Fosters?


robwood wrote on 11/4/2013, 3:14 PM
FORMAT is a container.
CODEC defines how it is stored: liquid, ice, gas, etc.
farss wrote on 11/4/2013, 3:24 PM
[I]"FORMAT is a container.
CODEC defines how it is stored: liquid, ice, gas, etc."[/I]

My understanding is that a "format" defines both the container(s) and the codec(s) and how they'll be used. To conform to a format you have to comply with a specification that defines the entire entity. Examples of a format are AVCHD and XDCAM EX.

robwood wrote on 11/4/2013, 3:38 PM
a "format" defines both the container(s) and the codec(s) and how they'll be used. -farss

QuickTime is a format. so is MP4.
the handling of (for instance) H.264 within each may vary depending on the container/wrapper....

did i miss something here?

edit - ...sorry, gotta go into a session, i'll check back another day!...
...and still disagree that the "contents" of a container is a codec: the contents are the audio/video... the codec is the FORM in which these contents are stored.
set wrote on 11/4/2013, 5:00 PM
Fun thing about QT and MP4:
Both can store the same h.264 video codec and aac audio codec.

Usually this was found on downloadable edited features, in vimeo sites. It's easy to rewrap them to MP4 without recompression again using AviDemux. (to play them in PS3 as MOV is not recognized)

'Liquid, ice, gas... They are just different shape/container for the same H2O chemical formula /codec' ?
NormanPCN wrote on 11/4/2013, 5:16 PM
Fun thing about QT and MP4:

An even more fun thing about MP4 and QT. MPEG choose to base the MP4 file format on the QT format.

QT, MP4, MXF are all generic file formats and can contain any video and/or audio stream you can ever possibly dream up.
farss wrote on 11/4/2013, 5:21 PM
[I]"did i miss something here?"[/I]

Common Usage ?

I get where you're coming from because the word "container" implies you can simply open the thing like a box or a bottle and get the contents out. This isn't true as you need to read data that's part of the container to know how to read the data and how to decode it.

The problem with the word "format" is it was already in common use before the days of file based media e.g. Betacam SP was a tape format.

I prefer the word "wrapper" as that sort of implies you need to read the label to know about the contents and it also aligns with the use of the term "rewrap".

To further confound the issue XDCAM EX defines a whole universe of files, folder structures, codecs and file contents e.g. XML.

PeterDuke wrote on 11/5/2013, 12:37 AM
If MOV and MP4 are so similar, why did we need another standard? Turf wars? Like, why can't we standardize (standardise) on English spelling, or what order to put the fields in the date?
NormanPCN wrote on 11/5/2013, 10:26 AM
If MOV and MP4 are so similar, why did we need another standard? Turf wars?

Apple is a controlling, closed, our way or the highway company. If MPEG wanted to tweak something they would have to get Apple to agree and include it. Apple does not support one of their other standards, ProRes, for encoding on anything but the Mac. Of course MPEG is not an "open" setup either.

As for having many standards. MP4 can last forever and hold anything we may ever want.
musicvid10 wrote on 11/5/2013, 11:01 AM
The most advanced, flexible and transparent container for both delivery and archiving is Matroska (MKV), bar none.

Plus, it's Open Source / Open Standard, which is all good, except we'll never see it in Vegas for that reason. It's also the heart of WebM / HTML5. All the tools are also Open Source.

It can keep almost any source format intact and recoverable, supports chapters, subtitles, and a bunch of stuff that MPEG-4 Part 14, as a closed standard, never dreamt of.
NormanPCN wrote on 11/5/2013, 2:53 PM
Agreed that Matroska is an excellent container. Unfortunately, It has so little traction. Only tech enthusiasts really care or even know it exists.

I don't think file formats have the royalty issue like codecs. If MKV is GPL then that is a problem for commerical apps like Vegas. If LGPL or public domain then Vegas can easily support it, but then we are back at the "traction" issue.

It's circular. Things like Vegas do not support since it has low traction and it cannot get traction with a lot of application support.
set wrote on 11/5/2013, 4:30 PM
PS3 didn't support MKV playback :)
But several media players is. I forgot if my latest Bravia EX43 supports it too.

Some says MKV supports menu too, just like DVD, but I never seen it, anyone else?
PeterDuke wrote on 11/5/2013, 5:13 PM
"It's circular."

Like, "Don't go near the water until you learn to swim".
NormanPCN wrote on 11/5/2013, 5:59 PM

I like!

If you are a rock. Mist definitely. Luckily our bodies are quite buoyant which helps. Still if there is not someone around to help things along, then best not to jump in the water. Quite buoyant is not 100%.

A new standard if backed by major industry parties (someone to help things along) will give something major traction (buoyancy) from the get go.
musicvid10 wrote on 11/6/2013, 12:48 AM
Nope, neither PS3 nor Apple TV do MKV.
They don't handle h264 profiles and audio streams properly, either.
There is a [b]HUGE[/B] statement in there; but that's another thread.

Luckily, I own neither, and my devices, old and new, happily play MKV.

BTW, the draft menu proposal stalled out, and there is no active development, because of apparent lack of interest. One of the downsides of volunteer development.