If you regularly use seamless video conferencing, you know how much it contributes to business productivity and the bottom line. Today, both large and small organisations use video conferencing to connect with remote users. However, do you know what enables the video conferencing call to be as perfect and seamless as it is? It’s something called a codec.

A video codec is an electronic circuit or software that compresses or decompresses digital video, thus converting raw (uncompressed) digital video to a compressed format or vice-versa. It is hardware that allows you to make a video call by transferring packetized data as one data stream.

Let’s look at this in greater detail. In a typical video conferencing call, an optical camera captures images and a microphone captures audio. This audio and video are then transferred to something called a “slim box” in AV jargon. This is nothing but a codec.

What does a codec do?

This codec takes both video and audio and compresses it into one data stream and transfers it over either IP or ISDN to another location. In both the locations between which video conferencing is being done, codecs are present.

These codecs have different resolutions. For example, all codecs initially were standard definition, with 480×760 being the resolution shown on the screen. Today, we have codecs that are High definition (HD). 4K codecs are in our future…

Today, there are also VC codecs that can capture data from two cameras (multicast options) and transmit this information as a dual stream. This can be used for several larger meetings, such as Townhalls, Annual General Meetings, and large Training rooms, where multiple cameras are necessary to capture all the action.

Codecs are also used when an orthodox VC system (having a separate codec) collaborates with a new system, such as Skype for Business. In such a case, there is a regular, separate codec at the VC end and at the Skype end, the computer itself acts as a codec.

Another popular evolution of video conferencing, is cloud-based video conferencing. Today, Skype for Business has a codec which has the capability of connecting on the cloud. There are also several companies that provide their own proprietary cloud-based video conferencing solutions. In such a case, Skype for Business can communicate with these proprietary VC solutions.

All about Video conferencing codec
Video conferencing using computer as codec

Besides Skype for Business, there are other proprietary VC systems, such as Lifesize’s Softphone and Cisco’s Webex/Jabber. Today, codecs are still evolving and most companies that offer video conferencing solutions are coming up with different codecs that can be used with their own software, or then, with other systems.

In such a fast-evolving scenario, what works today, may not work tomorrow, and the orthodox system of video conferencing with its codecs will probably be replaced with something faster, newer, better…

So, now you know all about video conferencing codecs and their use in both orthodox and the newer video conferencing systems. So, when you install a video conferencing system in your home or office, do think about codecs. They may work behind-the-scenes, but are crucial to the success of your VC call. Here’s to seamless video conferencing!

For more information on how to set up a video conferencing solution for your home or business, contact Actis at 022-30808080 or at contact@actis.co.in.

(Images courtesy: www.lifesize.com)

AV Solutions, Audio Visual Consultants at Actis Technologies India