What is the best codec at the moment without losses? HEVC, or is it faster / more compact? In HEVC there is a lossless mode. On the Internet did not find the actual information for this year.

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    What are the criteria that define best to you? The best professional mezzanine codec is different from the best scientist research codec is different from <insert scenario here> codec. – Michael Liebman Apr 4 '18 at 19:41

It entirely depends on your definition of best. Different codecs do different jobs:

  • Do you require greater bit depth than 8-bit? Some codecs encode 10, 12 or 16 bits per channel, giving much higher colour fidelity, and lower quantisation errors.

  • Do you need an alpha channel? Some codecs support an alpha channel to encode transparency information, important for intermediates used in the post production chain.

  • How efficient do you need the codec to be, i.e. how much file compression does it offer? Lossless codecs are usually fairly storage-hungry.

  • How fast is it to encode/decode? This is usually roughly inversely proportional to the efficiency. However speed also depends on the speed of the storage, so a codec that requires less processing per frame might have a bottleneck at the point where the frame is retrieved from disk especially for high resolution video.

  • Do you need to edit with it? Codecs that use GOP can be slower to use in editing or post production.

  • If you're giving the footage to someone is it likely that they'll be able to use it on another system without too many hurdles? Is it free to use? HEVC is free for a limited number of views, but if you're using it to distribute content to a mass audience you'll be up for royalties.

  • Other considerations like is it an open source codec with publicly available description of the bitstream. Of critical importance for long term archival, but generally unimportant for any other use.

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