What is Transcoding?

Transcoding is the process of changing an audio or video file from one encoding format to a different with the intention to increase the number of suitable target gadgets a media file could be performed on.


Encoding and transcoding are typically used interchangeably, but the processes, though carefully associated, are indeed different.

Encoding is the process of compressing video and audio files to be appropriate with a single goal device. Transcoding, then again, allows for already encoded data to be transformed to another encoding format. This process is especially useful when customers use multiple target units, comparable to completely different mobile phones and web browsers, that don’t all assist the identical native codecs or have limited storage capacity.

Encoding is a naturally lossy process, which means that it causes a certain amount of data to be discarded and ultimately decreases audio and video quality. Encoding can use lossless compression, but it leads to decreased compression rates and elevated media file sizes.

With that in mind, there are three types of transcoding:

Lossy-to-lossy: This is the least ideal form of transcoding. It means you already have a file with decreased quality and transcoding causes the quality to degrade even further. The only reason to use this form of transcoding is to lower the bitrate and save storage space on portable players.

Lossless-to-lossless: By taking advantage of higher compression and hardware help a file can be losslessly compressed. This type of transcoding is useful for changing to new codecs without losing quality, but the ensuing files are often too massive to send to portable devices.

Lossless-to-lossy: This transcoding technique causes less quality loss than lossy-to-lossy and produces file sizes sufficiently small for portable devices. You need to maintain archives of losslessly compressed files to actually leverage this transcoding method.

There is no such thing as a such thing as lossy-to-lossless transcoding. Once data and quality have been misplaced through the encoding or transcoding process they can’t be regained.

How Transcoding Works

Transcoding and encoding shouldn’t be confused with transmuxing which only converts the container format akin to MP4 and FLV (Flash). However, video and audio files are compressed by codecs such as VP6 and H.264. Nonetheless, much like transmuxing, transcoding will be carried out utilizing FFmpeg, a well-liked open supply software designed to handle all video and audio formats.

Examples of Transcoding

Transcoding is a robust process that’s leveraged by major streaming organizations similar to Twitch, which actually makes use of each FFmpeg and its own TwitchTranscoder to stream video and audio on its platform.

The world’s largest provider of consumer-generated movies, YouTube, receives over 300 hours of uploads every minute—and it uses transcoding to make those videos available in 5+ different qualities and 5+ totally different formats. This means the unique uploaded content may be transcoded into over 20 versions. YouTube kicks off the encoding and transcoding process as soon as the original upload is full, which is why new movies are sometimes only available in low-resolution till the higher-res videos are transcoded

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