What’s Transcoding?

Transcoding is the process of changing an audio or video file from one encoding format to a different in order to increase the number of appropriate goal gadgets a media file may be performed on.


Encoding and transcoding are generally used interchangeably, but the processes, though closely associated, are indeed different.

Encoding is the process of compressing video and audio files to be suitable with a single target device. Transcoding, however, allows for already encoded data to be converted to a different encoding format. This process is especially helpful when customers use a number of target units, similar to totally different mobile phones and web browsers, that don’t all help the same native formats or have limited storage capacity.

Encoding is a naturally lossy process, that means that it causes a certain quantity of data to be discarded and finally decreases audio and video quality. Encoding can use lossless compression, however 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 excellent type 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 make use of this type of transcoding is to decrease the bitrate and save cupboard space on portable players.

Lossless-to-lossless: By taking advantage of higher compression and hardware support a file might be losslessly compressed. This type of transcoding is beneficial for changing to new codecs without losing quality, but the resulting files are sometimes too large 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 will need to preserve archives of losslessly compressed files to really leverage this transcoding method.

There isn’t a such thing as lossy-to-lossless transcoding. As soon as data and quality have been lost during the encoding or transcoding process they cannot be regained.

How Transcoding Works

Transcoding and encoding should not be confused with transmuxing which only converts the container format equivalent to MP4 and FLV (Flash). Alternatively, video and audio files are compressed by codecs akin to VP6 and H.264. Nonetheless, much like transmuxing, transcoding will be executed utilizing FFmpeg, a preferred open source software designed to deal with all video and audio formats.

Examples of Transcoding

Transcoding is a robust process that is leveraged by main streaming organizations akin to Twitch, which truly uses both FFmpeg and its own TwitchTranscoder to stream video and audio on its platform.

The world’s largest provider of person-generated movies, YouTube, receives over 300 hours of uploads every minute—and it makes use of transcoding to make these videos available in 5+ totally different qualities and 5+ totally different formats. This means the original uploaded content material will 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 videos are sometimes only available in low-resolution until the higher-res videos are transcoded

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