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Video Transcoding: Why is it Important in Streaming? 10 January 2020

 

If you are a newbie in the streaming and media industry, you probably must have heard the terms “encoding” and “transcoding”. However, you aren’t exactly sure what they mean. 

Well, you have come to the right place as we are going to explain what video transcoding means and what it isn’t and what it’s often confused with. We will start with video encoding first.

 

What is Video Encoding?

After the media production of a video, its initial digital format is still a raw file. This raw file in itself cannot be distributed or accessed by different devices. So, for video files to be stored and accessed across different devices it needs to be compressed in the particular digital format compatible across the device. This form of video compression for files is done by the encoder for making them compatible with a target device and the process is called encoding.

Encoding is the process of converting a raw video file into a compressed and digitally compatible format. It is only after encoding that the new compressed file is capable for distribution and playback in mobile, web or TV players.

 

What is Video Transcoding?

Sometimes, the terms encoding and transcoding are used interchangeably, despite their different use-case. 

While encoding is the process of converting uncompressed video file to a desired format,  transcoding can be referred to the process of decompressing or decoding that particular video file from one format to an uncompressed format, and then again encoding the uncompressed file to a recompressed and desired format

Video transcoding generally happens when the video file is being moved from a source to a different destination, supporting different file formats.

An example of transcoding would be converting from an MPEG2 source to H.264 video codec and AAC audio codec.

So, we can say that transcoding is a more complex variant of the encoding process as it involves both the process of encoding and decoding.

 

Transcoding also includes:

  • Transrating– Transrating refers to the process of changing bitrates, such as taking a 4K video stream at 10 Mbps and converting it into lower renditions or lower-bitrate streams such as HD at 6Mbps, or other renditions at 3 Mbps, 1.8 Mbps etc. This enables users to fit particular media into a much smaller storage space.
  • Transsizing is also a part of transcoding and refers to the process of changing the size of the video frame; for example, altering the resolution of 3840×2160 (4K UHD) video down to 1920×1080 (1080p) video.

 

Is Transcoding and Transmuxing the Same?

Transcoding is often confused with transmuxing. What’s transmuxing?

It refers to the process of repackaging an already compressed audio and video file without changing the actual audio or video content.

For example, you might have H.264/AAC content, and by changing the container it’s packed in, you can deliver it through multiple streaming protocols such as HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), Smooth Streaming, HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS) or Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH). The computational overhead for transmuxing is much smaller than for transcoding.

Although transmuxing is similar to transcoding, it is generally considered to be a more lightweight procedure and requires less computing power.

 

Why is Transcoding Important in Streaming?

Now that you have already gained a fair idea about what encoding and transcoding is, let us understand why this process plays a vital role in the streaming industry.

  • Increase Reach– The best thing about transcoding is that you can increase your content reach to more end users.

If, for example, you want to live stream a video using an RTMP encoder and select the most popular H.264 video codec at 720p, many viewers without sufficient bandwidth will not be able to view the stream as their players will be constantly buffering waiting for 720p video packets to arrive. Without transcoding the video, an entire section of your viewers with slower data speeds will not be able to watch your videos. 

 

  • Optimize video quality– You can create multiple renditions of your videos in different resolutions with an adaptive bitrate video player. In this way, viewers with fast internet connections can receive very high-resolution videos while those with slower network connections can access lower-quality videos. Although the video won’t look as great, it will greatly reduce buffering problems. 

This is an automatic process wherein the video player detects the viewer’s internet speed, and delivers them the most appropriate rendition. This entire process fully depends on video transcoding.

 

  • Multiple Format support– With the help of transcoding you can re-encode your video stream into different formats like HLS or MPEG-DASH. This process is particularly useful when you are streaming to a range of devices which only support certain formats.

 

Why Choose Muvi?

Muvi supports Automatic Transcoding, which means you upload your video files in the file format (MP4, MOV, MKV, FLV, VOB, M4V, AVI, 3GP, MPG) and highest possible resolution you have (upto 4K) and our robust Transcoding engine will take care of converting it to various formats as required by Web, Mobile (Android, iOS), Media Boxes (Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast) and Smart TVs as well as automatically convert the resolution / bitrate into 4K, 2K, 1080, 720, 640, 480, 360, 240, 144 formats. 

In order to fully experience our 2X faster encoding and transcoding process, Try our 14-day free trial now!

 

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Sreejata Basu
Sreejata is Associate Content Writer for Muvi’s Marketing unit. She is a passionate writer with a background in English Literature and music. By week Sreejata spends her time in the corporate world of Muvi, but on weekends she likes to take short hiking trips, watch movies and read interesting travelogues.

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