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Need better understanding of codecs
I'm a long-time developer but I am relatively new to A/V recording. I think of a codec as a driver that sits between a capture device and the target file. If the codec supports some feature like a certain fps setting then that's translated to the file. But I don't understand how closely that relates to the codec that viewers need to see the file. I look at that like compression where there are a ton of options like zip, rar, etc, and image types like gif, jpeg, png, etc. - and we all know that the application that opens these files needs to use the same format as the app used to create them.
What I don't understand is how universal some of these codecs are. My first attempt at using the CS codec resulted in a "write-only" file because the target system didn't have the CS codec. Unlike FLV, AVI, WMV and other file types, I think it's asking a bit much to ask people to install the CS codec to view files. So I see this codec as only being used to create material that will be consumed by people you know.
DivX and Xvid are very popular among people who create vids, but I'm not sure how universal they are among typical user/consumers. I don't want to have to tell people to download the DivX codec (run the installer, don't install the player, and ignore the offer to install a browser toolbar...). I can edit files created in CS using Windows Movie Maker. That creates a WMV which is fairly universal for Windows users anyway, but with this I'm concerned about file size and quality.
Then there is the concept of whether people need to do full downloads of vids vs being able to get streaming video. My shared host offers a converter to create an FLV file from AVI, MOV, MPEG or MPG. And they offer Quicktime streaming too. But do people need a media player that supports streaming to play an FLV vs downloading the whole thing and playing from disk?
Finally, since I'm concerned about quality, I'm not sure how various video codecs relate to the audio codec options available. CS offers a variety of settings for KHz and bits, but not all of them are valid with various video codecs (that I can see). Because we may want to do conversion of video formats. My preference might be to record audio and video in separate applications simultaneously, then sync them later. Not only would this avoid the a/v getting out of sync but it should produce smaller files that can be more easily manipulated in other apps for editing. So as long as the viewer has a codec to play the mixed a/v, why does it matter that a specific codec suports a certain type of audio compression for recording?
I'm sure I will have more questions after this. My real goal is to work out some info here that can help all of us to choose the right codecs for our various needs. Thanks!