4 Replies Latest reply on Aug 30, 2007 8:30 AM by Eddie Lotter

    Clarification on Codecs

      Hello all!

      I am new to Premiere and video editing in general. I need some clarification on some issues that I am not quite understanding.

      1) What exactly is the difference between a wrapper, a codec and a format? Are they the same things?

      For example you get Divx, what exactly is Divx, a format, a wrapper or a codec, do you get divx files in mpeg and avi?

      I have googled and found some info but it is all over my head. I would like a direct comparison between these things to help me understand editing and video work before I even begin to buy a camera.

      I know there are tapes, hard drives and discs but what goes on them? Are the camera's recording using codecs or wrappers or a format?

      Sorry if this question is very amateur it's just that I need to understand this before I do anything. I would like to have a better idea of what to do when someone says hey here is a .mov can you use it. Please help me if you can, I would really appreciate any help with this please.

      Regards Ennio ""
        • 1. Re: Clarification on Codecs
          Level 1
          To simplify things,

          how will I know when a file is a format, a codec or a wrapper?

          • 2. Re: Clarification on Codecs
            mike velte Level 1
            1. Video Architecture is the software installed on a computer that allows for playback and editing of video.
            Common architectures are Video For Windows (VFW) created by Microsoft which discontinued support in 1998. A few vendors continue to use this. Common are Divx and Xvid. The file extension is .avi.
            DirectShow is Microsoft's support for DV. The file extension is also .avi
            Windows Media Video= .wmv
            MPEG is another architecture with many different file extensions all beginning with "M".
            Quicktime= .mov
            Flash= .flv
            and on and on.

            2. Most architectures support many codecs which are the mathematical logarithmic formulas to compress video. DirectShow has 2, and the others have many.

            3. A wrapper or header file is the data that describes the architecture and what codec is used in any video file. The player or editing software reads this info.

            If you are serious about shooting video and editing, get a camera that uses Mini-DV tape.
            SD Mini-DV camcorders record raw data to the tape...with no header. When the video data is transfered to the computer, the editing software assign the architecture and codec. Premiere does DirectShow type 2 on a PC.
            Also many High Definition (HDV) cameras use mini-dv tapes and write video data to the tape. Sony cams write Mpeg raw data which when captured to the computer, Premiere will add the .m2t file extension.
            • 3. Re: Clarification on Codecs
              Jim_Simon Level 8
              Keeping it simple, the codec is the algorithm used to compress the video, like DivX, H.264, DV, etc.

              The wrapper is the type of file it's in, like .MOV or AVI or VOB. Not all media files have a wrapper, like MPEG. A file with an .mpeg extension needs to use some varation of the MPEG codec, or it won't play. Whereas video compressed with DV can have the .dv, .avi or .mov wrapper and work perfectly fine.

              The format refers to the original source media, like DV or HDV or NTSC or PAL, etc.
              • 4. Re: Clarification on Codecs
                Eddie Lotter Level 4

                See the "Compression Primer" in Adobe Primers.

                See also: Codecs


                Forum FAQ
                Premiere Pro Wiki
                - Over 250 frequently answered questions
                - Over 100 free tutorials
                - Maintained by editors like you