The cost of digital camcorders is coming down and software is flooding onto the market for video editing. The field is still in its early stages; like many new directions for computers over the years, early adopters are having a fine time learning acronyms and technical details but normal people are well advised to stay away.

Here’s an example. Many people don’t understand that digital video on a computer is compressed, and the method used to compress the video makes a difference in how it looks and what you can do with it. Here’s an article comparing four different video codecs, with lots of screenshots and lots of information about what it all means. The article is aimed squarely at “those who want to compress video for home use: to e-mail to family members, put up on a Web site, burn onto a CD, re-compress to fit on a PDA or portable video player, or just archive for later use.”

If you find it confusing, don’t buy that digital camcorder quite yet – I think the world of digital video will be significantly calmer and more settled in a year.

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