What is compression?

Here is a very basic overview of compression to help you make a decision of what type of compression to use when capturing and archiving your important video memories. Compression for both still images and video images is an essential technology that allows us to better view, store, and share images. In a very general sense, compression on images is just what the word means, which is to compress or make an image smaller. If we interacted with images in their “RAW” form, our hard drives would fill up and it would be nearly impossible to stream videos to our fancy new TVs, because of the large size of the RAW files. Every day you see JPG and PNG photos, which are both compression formats, and all videos on Netflix and YouTube are compressed. Digital stills and video images are made up of pixels, or individual dots that represent different colors. When they are put together they form the images we see. These pixels make up data bits that make up the file size, or the MB/GB’s. For example standard definition video has 640 pixels horizontally and 480 pixels vertically (640 x 480), whereas HD video has 1920 pixels horizontally and 1080 vertically (1920 x 1080). That is why HD video is much larger and takes up more hard drive space. The goal for the incredible engineers that develop compression techniques is to reduce the size of the video file but not change how the original image looks to the eye. Modern compression algorithms are amazing, making it nearly impossible to see the difference between the RAW image and the compressed image.

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