How To Build a Personal Video Recorder on Your Computer – How codecs work

How To Build a PVR From Your Desktop Computer (Article Heading)
How To Build a PVR From Your Desktop Computer (Article Heading)


In these introductory pages, I cover the explanations associated with using Codecs to convert and compress digital media. These introductory pages will also help you understand concepts behind what a personal video recorder is, how a personal video recorder works, and what types of hardware and software are required for the successful recording, editing, and capturing of digital video on your personal computer.

Defining the Term Codec:

One of the most important topics you will want to understand about this entire digitization process relates to codecs. The term codec is an acronym standing for compression and decompression that typically comes in the form of a software package or installation file that you run on your computer to setup playback of a certain type of video file. You see computers are dumb machines. They are only smart when enabled and codecs work by enabling a playback of certain multimedia features.

In it’s most simplest terms, a codec is:

A device or computer program which encodes or decodes a digital data stream or signal. Codec is a portmanteau of coder-decoder. A coder encodes a data stream or a signal for transmission or storage, possibly in encrypted form, and the decoder function reverses the encoding for playback or editing.

In other words, a codec – or coder/decoder – is an encoding tool that processes video and stores it in a stream of bytes. Codecs use algorithms to effectively shrink the size of the audio or video file, and then decompress it when needed. … Depending on the codec, this encoding occurs in one of two ways: lossy or a lossless compression.

Codecs are the easiest way to drastically reduce the size of digital audio and video files, while maintaining the full quality of the original file.

There are a variety of freeware based utilities out there that show you all codecs available or installed on a computer.

Codecs support various types of file formats but are most popular when used with full motion digital video (including DVD video or footage taken directly from a camcorder), or compressed audio such as the type of music tracks found that comprise a music compact disc.

You can download codecs on their own or install multiple codecs through a third party installer (not recommended). When installing from a third party setup file, you really can’t be sure what you are installing, that is unless you know what particular codec files are being put into the computer. Often times, installing codecs one-by-one is easiest simply by defining the type of video format being used.

Responsibility Of Codecs

A codec’s primary responsibilities are listed below:

  1. Codecs compress data using a proprietary format as invented by a software developer.

  2. Codecs use highly sophisticated computer algorithms to compress data.

  3. Codecs maintain the highest level of quality by compressing certain aspects of digital audio or video while maintaining the full quality of the original file.

How Do I Install A Codec?

So, in order to play a file using a specific format, you need to install a new codec. There are a variety of freeware tools available for free download that enable you to view information about different codecs used for different video and audio files on a computer.
For example, this program called MediaInfo can display codec related information about all installed codecs on a computer.
MediaInfo is a convenient unified display of the most relevant technical and tag data for video and audio files.
MediaInfo is a convenient unified display of the most relevant technical and tag data for video and audio files.

You first need to download the required setup file, then open the main executable program (which installs a shortcut called MediaInfo on the Windows start menu). You then load a file through the viewer program, and detailed information is shown about the currently loaded media.


The Most Popular Audio and Video Codecs Available To PC Users

About Mike Casimir 147 Articles
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