This is a question that appears frequently within the media industry, which is understandable as almost every form of digital media seen today uses codecs and you will hear about them often. Unfortunately on the surface they appear to be complicated and get many people confused but they shouldn’t be ignored, and once you get down to it they really aren’t all that bad.
Codecs put simply, are methods for encoding and decoding digital data, specifically compressed data. They squish files essentially, making them very useful today when uncompressed video or audio can take up tons of virtual space that can bring workload to a crawl when your transferring all at once.
The word codec is literally shorthand for COmpressDECompress. Compressing files meaning to make them smaller, and decompress means to play back compressed files.
There are many codecs available but most are already outdated and it only takes one quick Google search to reveal which ones are currently leading. This isn’t to say a single codec will do absolutely everything but it makes selecting the one you want much easier. Common codecs within the video industry are H.264, ProRes, ProRes 4444, MPEG2, AVC, within audio WAV, AIFF and AAC are just a few.