Codec is a portmanteau combining the words “coder” and “decoder.” A codec is a specification that describes a method or representing information. In digital media, codec typically refers to a method of encoding audio, video (and sometimes text and other metadata) in a compact fashion for transmission and storage. Codecs my be lossless, where the decoder is capable of reproducing the original content exactly, or lossy where the decoder can only reproduce an approximation of the original content. Lossy codec use significantly less storage and bandwidth, but produce lower fidelity media. Sometimes the word codec is used to describe a specific implementation of a coder or decoder. x264 for example is an encoder implementation of the h.264 video compression standard.
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