As you may know, there are quite a few different types of video file formats (.avi, .mpg, .mov, .ram...). Most all video files that you will use are compressed. To decompress these files, the computer must have the information necessary to know how to decompress (reassemble) the file so that it appears as intended. This information is in the CODEC. When playing many types of videos with the Windows Media Player, you will notice that it searches for the codec. Many times, it's unsuccessful. If this happens, you can often still play the file but you must manually install the codec. Before you can install it, you must find out what codec is needed. At this time, the G-Spot Codec Information Appliance seems to be the program of choice for determining the proper codec. The following image is a screen shot from this software.
After opening the video file that you are having trouble reading, the program shows the file size, the running time, the audio and video codecs required. On this computer, the proper codecs are installed. If the proper codes were not installed, it would tell you which ones you need. From there, you could use Google to find them on the net.
Many people will tell you to use codec packs to install the proper codecs. While there are a few good ones, there are plenty that will cause more problems than they solve. It is best to install only the codecs you need. If you decide to install a codec pack, I'd strongly recommend downloading one from a trusted site. Majorgeeks.com is a good choice (for this and many other software downloads).
When dealing with video files, you will notice that the files with the best quality will typically be the largest (for files with similar running times). If you compress a 90 minute video onto a CD (700MB), the quality will be only marginally acceptable with the best codecs. To get better quality, you must use less compression. This means larger file sizes. For DVD quality, a typical 90 minute movie will be approximately 3.5GB. If you ever need to convert raw video to a compressed video format, you will need to select a suitable codec. At this time, DIVX seems to be the best for quality vs file size.
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