What Is Transcoding And Why Is It Important?

Every day, thousands and thousands of videos are uploaded to the internet. Most of them, I suspect, involve cats in some way or another. They are posted on video hosting websites such as Youtube and Vimeo where millions of people can view them by streaming the video.  Now you can even watch entire movies instantly on websites like Hulu and Netflix, or if you are short on time, you can check out a six second video on Vine or a twelve second video using Instagram’s new feature.

Video is everywhere on and offline.

So what exactly goes into the process of taking a movie like The Avengers, shot on professional cameras and projected digitally at an extremely high resolution and reformatting it to be streamed instantly on Netflix? This is accomplished by utilizing something called transcoding.

Transcoding is the process of converting one digital encoding to another. This is something needed when a particular target device does not support the format (picture trying to play a CD on a record player) or does not contain enough storage capacity to support the file size (imagine trying to watch an IMAX 3D movie on an iPhone).

Transcoding takes one file format, compresses it and transfers it to the format on which it is going to be viewed. In order for lengthy files (like a movie or a TV episode) to be accessed without extremely long load times or overloading the system on which it’s being accessed, they need to be compressed into smaller files.

How is a file compressed into a smaller size without any significant losses in quality? It can be a tricky process. For instance, if a video is shot in 4k RAW on a RED EPIC camera (the go-to digital cinema camera for movies such as The Hobbit and Star Trek Into Darkness) and is intended to be viewed on a website like Vimeo, it would need to be scaled down since thirty minutes would amount to roughly 63 gigabytes of content. It needs to be compressed down to the allowable resolution. The goal is to minimize loss in picture quality while still keeping the file size manageable. The codecs used for compression in video are typically H.264, a standard for providing high definition video at substantially lower bit rates, such as WebM, which is supported by Mainstream Data.

Video asset management and the format codecs that accompany it can be intimidating in this regard, especially when making sure that you are always keeping up with the best methods for data transfer. When you begin to consider how many different formats of video that can be produced – depending on how it will be used – it’s important to think past the intended use and how you’ll get your video into other formats that will help you spread out the lifetime and value of that single file. Mainstream Data’s video transcoding engine automatically creates the best formats needed for web, mobile, or broadcast distribution.

Mainstream’s transcoding engine is incredibly flexible, accepting all standard source video formats, and providing the highest possible level output formats using the latest video codecs. Through Mainstream’s transcoding product, different formats for video are created on the fly and can be available for immediate download from your content hosting platform. This turn-key solution allows you to get your video asset management system up and running in a shorter amount of time than with any other video platform, giving you a chance to get more out of your content by getting it out there on the right channel in the right format.

Now that you’re a little more familiar with how transcoding works, you may return to your cat videos, only now with a new found appreciation for the tireless process that goes into getting them to you.

Or, if you’re interested in learning more about how to manage your video assets,  you can get in touch with Mainstream today.