Internet Video Terms

Codec: Hardware or software that can compress and uncompress audio or video data. Codec is short for compressor/decompressor. A video codec is software that compresses a video file in order to send it over the Internet. Several video codecs are available, including products from Microsoft, RealNetworks, Intel, and VDOLive.

Decode: To decompress a video file after receipt so that you can view it. Most decoding is done through a player plugin on the receiving computer's browser.

Encode: To compress a video file with a codec so that it doesn't use maximum bandwidth as it travels across the Internet.

Fps: Frames per second. The fps rate determines how smoothly a video will play. Most video on the Internet plays at 5fps to 15fps. To watch a video on the Internet at 15fps, viewers need a 120MHz Pentium or better, with a 56Kbps connection.

Frame: One screen of information, including text and graphics.

Multicast: One server signal from which multiple viewers can watch a video simultaneously.

Splitter server: A server that receives one video signal and rebroadcasts it across a network.

Stream: A one-to-one connection between a server and client that lets a user view a video clip before the video file fully downloads.

Stream thinning: A process that eliminates frames from a video feed over the Internet, protecting the audio feed. This process is helpful when the Internet is momentarily clogged; preventing the loss of the entire signal and the resulting forced reconnection, stream thinning drops some of the video signal until the connection restores full bandwidth.

Unicast: Individual signals from a server to individual clients for on-demand video viewing.