You may be asking, “What is transcoding?” especially if you are new to online and digital video. Transcoding is an essential task in adaptive streaming video workflows. Transcoding converts an encoded file or group of files into an modified set digital files that meet the needs your hardware or audience. This is especially important to ensure your content can be viewed on a wide range of devices.
This article will explain the basics of transcoding and its implications for broadcasters and content creators in the video streaming industry.
What is transcoding?
First, transcoding must be distinguished from two other digital videos that can easily be confused.
This is the process of taking encoded or “compressed” video or any other digital content and decompressing, altering, and re-compressing. A high-resolution digital video (HD, 4K) can be an example. can be transcoded into smaller formats for editing. In other words, smaller files are easier to use in editing software. Transcoding video can also be done to make it available to a wider audience on different devices. Transcoding refers to the digital-to-digital conversion from one type of encoded data, such as audio or video, to another. Often this is because the target device that will display the content will require a smaller file size. You can visualize a feature film on your smartphone.
You may be asking, “What is transcoding?” especially if you are new to online and digital video. Transcoding is an essential task in adaptive streaming video workflows. Transcoding converts an encoded file or group of files into an modified set digital files that meet the needs your hardware or audience. This is especially important to ensure your content is accessible on a wide range of devices.
What is transcoding?
Firstly, transcoding needs to be differentiated from two other easily confused digital video processes: compression and transmuxing/rewrapping.
This is the process of taking encoded or “compressed” video or any other digital content and decompressing, altering, and re-compressing. A high-resolution digital video (HD, 4K) can be an example. can be transcoded into smaller formats for editing. In other words, smaller files are easier to use in editing software. Transcoding video can also be done to make it available to a wider audience on different devices. Transcoding refers to the digital-to-digital conversion from one type of encoded data, such as audio or video, to another. Often this is because the target device that will display the content requires a smaller file. You can visualize a feature film on your smartphone.
Your device, your content and video transcoding at home
Imagine this: You just returned from your latest adventure, or hobby, and you are now sitting on your sofa. Your eyes have been focused on your computer for the last few hours uploading and editing HD videos you had earlier. Finally, you’ve finished editing the HD videos from your GoPro or high-quality Kodak camera, as well as other devices like Apple, Android and Windows. Bitmovin is OS-agnostic! Now you can download your latest creation and share it. Your device’s raw video files are much larger than any cloud storage, file sharing site, or social media platform can handle. Pro-tip: Check the size of the video file that is saved to your actual device. It may be huge! The average HD video file size is 18GB per 60 seconds. This is based on a 1920x1080pixel standard RGB 3x16bit uncompressed TIF file.
Most people think that clicking “export” and “share to social are the last steps to getting those “likes.” However, it is not enough. You need to learn how and why you can move video content from one device and another. First, click “export and Save”. Most editing software (such as the GoPro Quik, Capture NX for Nikon, Capture Cam Express and Capture Cam Express for Sony) will ask for you to choose an output folder (or Network Access Storage (NAS), location (ex. a hard drive connected to the wifi), a video & sound codec configuration and a container form like MP4. Congratulations! Congratulations! You have completed the first step.
Your computer may heat up after you confirm the export. Given the size of the content, it is not surprising that your computer will need a lot of temporary storage (in gigabytes per second) to store the exported video. Your computer’s RAM can affect how long it takes to transcode video. Lower RAM means slower transcodes, while higher RAM means faster transcodes. Transcoding is simple from the consumer’s perspective. It takes just a few clicks to save and export the file to a new device. Transcoding, in short, is the process of changing one compressed video (almost losslessly) to another better-compressed format. This is how video compression works when it is transferred from one computer to another.
Now, wireless transcoding from your device to your computer to your SmartTV
You have exported your video file from your editor. Now you need to show your final product on the new high-definition SmartTV. This conundrum can be solved by connecting your device to your TV via an HDMI cable. But let’s face it, would you really want to get up from your couch to do such an inane task? We are still in 2020! How does streaming video via some smart features of your device work?
Quick for GoPro’s editing software has created a semi-compressed file. However, regardless of which server your software used (GPU based with plex or outright transcoding solution), it will need to be compressed further and optimized for streaming. The process of compressing multiple times through transitions is essential to lower buffering times and improve user experience. Your TV will need fewer resources (from back-end) to stream and decode the content.
Your laptop/NAS may not be able to send large files across the local network. The transcoding server can convert the file to HLS/DASH (like DASH client-server communication for Plex or HLS and Smoothstreaming for Google Chromecast for Plex) to deliver better quality table video streaming to your SmartTV ( You can try it with a . The TV’s software must be able to receive the data from the transcoding server (e.g. Chromecast extensions in your browser or the stick in the TV).
Similar, but distinct, procedures
Coding/compression are related concepts. Video for streaming requires compression. In earlier times of video, audio and video might have been received on analog tape formats, or film. Media would need to be digitalized and compressed in order to be compatible with computer programs like web pages and video editing workstations. This is not a problem now, as all-digital cameras can be set up to compress footage into easier codecs such as H.264. Footage used to refer to film or tape that was a certain number of feet long.
Digital cameras can still capture RAW files uncompressed from their sensors. These RAW files are large because they are directly from the camera sensor with no quality loss or alteration. It is common to have full detail that can easily be edited by a producer or content creator. However, because of the large files, compression will be necessary to reduce them to a manageable size to playback. Transcoding: Video pulled in by a camera can be compressed immediately by the camera or via an encoder linked to it, but it will not be suitable for distribution to large online audiences without transcoding.
Transmuxing/rewrapping is when content that is compressed is repackaged into a different delivery format–but without making any changes (including any further compression) to that packaged content. This process is much simpler than transcoding and is a common one in content delivery. This only changes the organization of audio and video data packets. You may have an H.264 clip from your camera. By transmuxing or rewrapping it’s container, it can be made available for delivery over the internet via HLS. This breaks down the video into smaller MPEG-2-TS files (known as chunks) of different bitrates but won’t change the base clip.
Transcoding can’t be applied to either of these digital media tasks. They can be confused, however, as they are often related.
“Transcoding”, as an umbrella term
Transcoding, in essence, is a two-step process where encoded data is first decoded to an intermediate format before being encoded into a target file.
When someone is referring to transcoding video content, there might be three tasks that fall under the greater umbrella.
It refers to transcoding video/audio streams, and making changes to it. If you are streaming a digital conference over the internet, then you may be using IP cameras within your conference room. Most likely, the IP cameras work on the RTSP protocol. They will not create a stream that is suitable for streaming over the internet. To convert your content to an adaptive bitrate stream, transcoding software or services will be required. These two types of changes might be included in the “transcoding” process.
Transrating, a specific type of transcoding, is used to alter bitrate. It’s the same video content and video format as before, but the bitrate is changed. For example, you might reduce an 8Mbps bitrate to 3Mbps to make it easier to store the media or broadcast it over a lower bandwidth.
Another type of transcoding is used to resize video frames (also known as “image scaling”), such as bringing down the resolution from 4K to 1080p.
What is transcoding?
Transcoding is a process that takes your video media or audio media, converts it into an uncompressed intermediate format and then re-encodes it back into its target format. The process may also include image scaling and transrating, as we have already explained.
An transcoding solution would take a video file (we’ll name it “ExampleVideo.mov”), and convert it into an MP4 using the H.264 codec. This would make it more suitable for streaming online (let’s just call the transcoded version “ExampleVideo.mp4”).
It all depends on which video transcoder you choose to use. Open-source software can have a command line interface, but it can also be a more powerful and robust version. Transcoding can be done on any computer or laptop. It also works with dedicated media servers, SaaS platforms, and PCs. Transcoding, as they call it, is computationally intensive. It requires substantial hardware and system resources like large amounts of system RAM, graphics acceleration and higher-end CPUs.
Don’t think you can transcode 4K video to a high-quality HLS stream or DASH stream using a Chromebook. This is typical for editing HD video in traditional video productions (corporate video, television). For example, it is not uncommon for large desktop computers to be tied up for hours at a stretch.
Transcoding is crucial for streaming success
Transcoding, as you know, is an essential part of an adaptive stream workflow. It also prepares your content for a delivery protocol such as the current industry-standard HLS that can reach the largest number of display devices.
Media is always changing and evolving. New devices, apps, and input sources are constantly being added to the mix. New cameras, feeds and innovations in webcasting can improve the quality and quantity of content produced. However, these developments also create new challenges for content delivery. Adaptive streaming is the way to go if you want your viewers always have the best viewing experience. This is the best way to go. Transcoding is an essential step in moving your best content to streaming outputs such as HLS and DASH. These adaptive streaming formats can be used to reduce buffering and playback problems, and deliver the sharpest picture possible continuously with no interruptions.
Examples of transcoding
Transcoding is a common tool in traditional film and video production, as we have already mentioned. One example of this is to down-res files taken with a camera to smaller, less detailed “proxy” files that can be edited quickly and have poor video quality. Another possibility is to transcode high quality video from Apple ProRes to H.264. This is often a “local transcoding” process that relies on video editing software such as Adobe Media Encoder and Avid Media Composer. This will convert files to the user’s computer. There are two main drawbacks to this: hardware limitations, which we discussed earlier, and the need for you to manage multiple files.
Let’s look at how transcoding works in a streaming workflow. You would need a video asset (clip or livestream) in this instance. From a capture device (video, IP, drone, etc.) The camera would encode the incoming audio and video data in a file or streaming format and send it off to an encoder. You could do this on a computer with a dedicated hardware encoder or by sending it to a web server to transcode. The encoder will then transcode the data, regardless of the original format (some cameras shoot raw or.raw files, while other cameras may output files with extensions.mov and.mpeg), and then compress it into a format that is suitable for streaming over the internet (most likely H.264). Multiple stream versions can be created by the encoder that are transcoded to different resolutions and bitrates. The data is sent to a media server (possibly the same server as the transcoder) where it is packaged and delivered via HTTP over the “last miles” to viewers. This will allow for multiple delivery options, including HD output on a smart television or desktop, to a suitable size for a tablet, or smartphone screen.
Transcode your content to the entire world!
A transcoding server is required to stream video in a living-room environment. This encodes transcoded content and then sends it to a player with the appropriate playback requirements. The player must be capable of handling different streams, such as ts and fmp4 to HLS, packaged in different protocols like DASH and . This is a device capable of playing back encoded videos through an app. It is essential to transcode video for streaming. Unfortunately, not all codecs and container formats are supported natively by most clients devices. This is just a sample of the transcoding that can be done at the local level to achieve the best quality. Stable playback on your Local Area Network is conceptually much easier than transcoding a video online – live or online! Web-based environments are more demanding than ever. Your viewer will experience a lower quality video or a slower buffer time, so it is important to maintain quality and limit the file size. Unlike the (semi)straightforward process of tra0nscoding your content locally, publishing your video online takes a lot more steps on the backend:
Laptop Transcode=> Living Room (OTT), Transcode => Internet Transcode (+Content Delivery Network) => Online!
Shortly, after your device has completed the steps to transmit to your Smart TV’s Smart TV, there are two additional steps.
- Uploading to a Content Delivery Network.
- Delivered to and played back on a stranger’s device ( Yay Internet!).
Edge locations enable faster data transference and better quality data transference, so viewers can enjoy your video without buffering. This is especially important if you live-stream.
This should have shed some light on transcoding and why it is so important for video streaming.