What are Video Editing Codecs?

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Published on
October 16, 2023

Video editing is a complex process that requires the use of various codecs to ensure optimal quality and compatibility. But what exactly are codecs, and how do they affect your video editing workflow? In this blog post, we will explain the different types of video editing codecs and when to use each one.

What are Video Editing Codecs?

Codecs, short for "compression/decompression," are algorithms used to compress and decompress video files. They determine how video data is stored, transmitted, and played back. Codecs are essential for reducing file sizes without sacrificing video quality.

Lossy vs. Lossless Codecs

There are two main types of codecs: lossy and lossless. Lossy codecs achieve high compression ratios by discarding some video data. This results in a smaller file size but a slight loss in quality. Lossless codecs, on the other hand, preserve all video data, ensuring no loss in quality but resulting in larger file sizes.

Common Video Editing Codecs

1. H.264: H.264, also known as AVC (Advanced Video Coding), is one of the most widely used video codecs. It offers excellent compression while maintaining high video quality. H.264 is suitable for online streaming, video sharing platforms, and general video editing.

2. ProRes: ProRes is a lossy codec developed by Apple. It is widely used in professional video editing workflows, especially in the film and television industry. ProRes provides high-quality video with manageable file sizes, making it ideal for post-production processes.

3. DNxHD/DNxHR: DNxHD and DNxHR are codecs developed by Avid Technology. They are designed for professional video editing and post-production workflows. DNxHD/DNxHR codecs offer high-quality video with efficient compression, ensuring smooth editing and playback.

4. HEVC: HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding), also known as H.265, is a newer video codec that offers improved compression efficiency compared to H.264. HEVC is suitable for high-resolution video editing and streaming, providing better quality at lower bitrates.

When to Use Each Codec

Choosing the right codec depends on various factors, including the intended use of the video, available storage space, and desired video quality. Here are some guidelines:

- Use H.264 for general video editing and online streaming.

- Use ProRes for professional film and television post-production workflows.

- Use DNxHD/DNxHR for Avid-based video editing and post-production.

- Use HEVC for high-resolution video editing and streaming.


Understanding video editing codecs is crucial for achieving the best results in your video editing projects. By selecting the appropriate codec for each scenario, you can ensure optimal video quality, efficient file sizes, and smooth editing workflows. Whether you're a professional editor or a beginner, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of different codecs will greatly enhance your video editing skills.

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