What are the levels and profiles for a video codec?

Lately, I have been working with video transcoding and I have come across different profiles and levels for video codecs. I want to understand, what are those level and profile means and the difference b

Levels and Profiles are set of parameters used in the core compression algorithm for a particular codec. Each level and profile has a specific characteristic attached to it, and according to these characteristics levels and profiles are used for different use-cases in a best-fit manner.

So it does affect a lot of characteristics of transcoded video like size, video quality, compression rate, decoding speed, and device decoding capabilities.

For simplicity, consider levels and profiles provided by H.264 codec.

  • Profiles: The supported H.264 profiles are baseline, main, high, high10, high422, and high444. Lower levels are easier to decode, but higher levels offer better compression and extended features. For example, some older phones only support the Baseline profile, which we use by default. The Main and High profiles are a definite step up in compression and work fine for web playback. Try High for the best quality.

  • Levels: Levels constrain the bitrate and macroblocks. Primarily used for device compatibility. For example, the iPhone supports H.264 Level 3, which means that a video’s peak bitrate can’t exceed 10,000kbps.

To enable compatibility between various hardware and software implementations, profiles and levels are often defined by standards organizations or codec developers. They give manufacturers and developers a set of uniform rules for encoding and decoding video data, enabling them to make interoperable products.

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Since I already have my DVDs and Blu-rays decoded on my disc, I’m reconstructing my movie library from my file archives, and I want to make sure I have the highest quality files and compression. I am aware that lossless compression is impractical for space savings, but I still desire identical visual and audio quality. I’ve only been examining video codecs’ quality and file sizes thus far while using VidCoder.
I’m considering using VP9, but I’ll rebuild it again and use AV1 when that comes out. FLAC is what I’m considering using for audio (I really like FLAC and have already used it for my digital CD archive).
Any idea which do you think would be ideal for what I want?

Hey James!

I think FLAC (its lossless audio codec! ), is a fantastic option for audio if compatibility isn’t as important to you as it is to you.

hevc outperforms vp9 by roughly 15%. For 720p and higher sources, Av1 is thought to perform 10–20 percent better than hevc, but current builds encode about 50 times more slowly than hevc.

for high-bitrate audio encoders in FLAC or excellent aac. The best aac encoders are those made by Apple or Nero. Use the regular aac lc profile rather than the low bitrate he-aac profile.

Opus is optimized for low to medium bitrate; do not use it for audio.