If you’ve ever produced a digital video of any kind, you’ll know the feeling of satisfaction you get from finally completing a great-looking film. And most likely, you’ll also know the feeling of intimidation, frustration and/or seething rage when first confronted with the huge selection of video render settings.

I hear you: ‘All I want is to get my video out of the editing program looking as good as it does inside the program so why do I need to know if it’s lossy or lossless and what’s a H.264 and why can’t I click a button and it just goes?’

Search for answers on online forums and the prevailing response will inevitably be along the lines of No single setting works best in all situations. And while this is indeed true, it’s about as helpful as a Slushie machine on the Titanic. Conversely, an in-depth description of every codec available in today’s technology would only confuse matters. That’s why today we’re taking a brief look at some of the more popular codecs and formats used in compressing digital video, and the recommended uses for each.