What is Video Transcoding and Why is it Important for Video Streaming?

Learn about what video transcoding is, how it works, and its pivotal role in optimizing the video streaming quality for viewers.

Videos continue to be a popular medium, with estimates indicating that a whopping 3.2 billion users will stream video content by 2027. But videos don't just get sent out the moment they're made. They often need to be optimized and undergo processes such as editing, compression, and video transcoding,

When a video is shot and produced, it is available in a single format, in a single resolution, and of a single size. This is problematic when the video is supposed to be distributed to a large audience through a video streaming platform.

Viewers expect high-quality videos and expect them to work on their devices without a hitch. But often, viewers streaming videos face issues like device incompatibility or buffering, especially for viewers with limited bandwidth.

This is a problem because while you can control the quality of the video you stream to an audience, you cannot control the quality of their internet connection. 

Luckily, transcoding helps relieve all these issues. In this blog, we will delve into what transcoding is and why it's crucial for smooth video streaming experiences on any device.

What is Video Transcoding?

Video transcoding is the process of creating multiple renditions of the same video. Each file has a different size, resolution, bitrate, and often even format.

For example, if you have a 1080p video, it would be transcoded to make 144p, 240p, 360p, 480p, and 720p versions. Each of these versions would exist independently of the original 1080p file. 

The idea is to create multiple file renditions and allow the end-users to manually or automatically choose the one that is compatible with their device and would play with minimum buffering, given their bandwidth condition.

If you've ever used a video player quality selection and an option for auto-quality selector, then just know that it is possible because of transcoding.

How is a Video Transcoded?

Transcoding may seem like a complex process, and that's because it usually is. However, you can consider it a catch-all term for various conversion processes happening. In particular, there are two main steps to transcoding video. These are:


Trans-rating involves changing the bitrate of the video while using the same format. For example, a 4K video input stream at 13 Mbps can be trans-rated into lower bitrate streams, such as HD at 6Mbps, 3Mbps, 1Mbps, or 600 kbps.


The trans-sizing or image scaling process resizes the video frame and changes the resolution of the video. For example, a 720p frame in a video can be resized to 480p. This is ultimately what changes the resolution.

Video Transcoding Vs Encoding

There is often general confusion when it comes to the terms video transcoding and video encoding. These terms tend to be used interchangeably when they do not have the same actual definition.

Video encoding refers to converting analog video sources into digital content. This process occurs when a camera captures a raw analog stream and converts it into digital data. Encoding involves compressing large, raw video files into more manageable sizes.

On the other hand,  transcoding refers to creating multiple versions and renditions of a video file with different resolutions, bitrates, and formats, as we’ve already discussed above. Here is a diagram to clarify where encoding and transcoding take place from capture to delivery.

Feature Image 4 How Transcoding Works-1

Interested to learn more? Check out our blog on the video streaming process.

How Does Transcoding Help with Video Streaming?

Transcoding video files is only half the battle. The next step in making sure videos stream smoothly is to have some mechanism in place to allow a transcoded rendition to play so that it aligns with a viewer's internet service quality and bandwidth.

There are two simple ways of doing this. The first is manual and involves the viewer picking a quality from a selection of options from their video player. The second is doing so automatically with the use of adaptive bit rate (ABR) streaming.

Adaptive bitrate streaming is a technology that allows users to automatically view a quality rendition that is best suited for their internet speed. In this process, the renditions created from transcoded are sliced into chunks and are streamed to the viewer one at a time. 

If the viewer's internet quality worsens, they are served a rendition with lower bitrate and resolution. If it improves, it is dynamically switched back to the version with higher quality, and so on. This is helpful in making sure viewer's aren't locked down to a single quality throughout the video.

Solving Video Streaming Issues with Video Transcoding

Transcoding has a significant role in elevating the video streaming experience for viewers. While it has a single purpose, it can produce several benefits. Here are some of the obstacles solved through transcoding video files.

It Helps Solve Bandwidth Challenges

Large files require more bandwidth to stream properly. Viewers can often have different network conditions, and not everyone has enough bandwidth to stream the same video. 

When they try, all they get is delays and buffering. Viewers often have high expectations of video streaming, so they're not likely to endure such issues.

If you have ever found yourself trying to stream a video or attend a meeting on a video conferencing platform, then you know how frustrating buffering and lag can be to your streaming experience.

For organizations that stream videos, it’s important to give their viewers the option to watch the video at a resolution that their network can handle. If you look at video conferencing or streaming issues, you'll see that people often complain about videos not playing in low bandwidth conditions.

It Ensures Device Compatibility

An internet connection isn't the only aspect that can vary. Viewers watch videos on different devices as well, which support different formats. This is important as a large chunk of people watch videos on their mobile phones—over 4.28 billion mobile internet users globally, to be precise.

Although some video formats are popular, others are less common, and devices can’t stream them. Video transcoding is important to give viewers not only resolution options but also format options so that they can watch videos with no problems on almost any device. 

It Helps Cut Down on Load Times

Original file sizes for videos can be large and for them to play readily through a browser. A viewer may need to wait for a couple of minutes for a video to load.

However, after transcoding video files, they are compressed into a file size that is much more optimized for streaming a video. This way, transcoding can allow even large videos to load faster. 

How Can You Transcode Videos?

Generally speaking, video transcoding can be achieved via the use of video editing software. However, this can have some major drawbacks. For one, these solutions are not entirely user-friendly and can have a bit of a learning curve for those who aren't as technically inclined.

The second option involves the use of specialized transcoding software or services. These are often available either as separate software or cloud-based solutions.

While this sounds good on paper, juggling all these separate solutions can be a hassle for businesses. It can be difficult and time-consuming to experiment with different transcoding software and onboard the team repeatedly for new software. 

Besides, while these video transcoding solutions are good for a few handfuls of videos, they are not good for large-scale use cases. For organizations that frequently use videos, it's often more worthwhile to invest in a cloud video streaming platform. This lets them automatically transcode all of your videos to ensure optimized playback.

VIDIZMO EnterpriseTube: Your Video Platform with Built-In Video Transcoding

Looking for a video streaming platform with transcoding functionality built in? VIDIZMO EnterpriseTube is a Gartner-recognized enterprise video platform with automatic video encoding and transcoding capabilities as per user requirements. 

With predefined encoding profiles, EnterpriseTube compresses videos using an array of codecs and produces multiple bitrates and resolutions. VIDIZMO EnterpriseTube offers flexible deployment options to allow videos to be transcoded and streamed on-premise or in the cloud.

Plus, VIDIZMO EnterpriseTube packs buffer less video streaming with adaptive bitrate streaming support that detects viewers’ network strength and automatically plays the rendition of the video best suited to their network connection.

Leveraging the use of enterprise content delivery networks (eCDNs), users can stream videos to a large audience on their enterprise network through internal video caching.

You can also enjoy live video streaming through modern protocols like HLS so that there are no bandwidth issues and the video is played seamlessly on almost every device and operating system.

VIDIZMO EnterpriseTube is designed as a one-stop video streaming solution for organizations to stream to viewers all over the globe, regardless of their internet connection or device.

Find Out What Makes It Special!

Stream with Confidence Using Transcoding!

Using video transcoding and adaptive bitrate streaming, you can ensure a seamless viewing experience for all your viewers, no matter their internet connection. 

With EnterpriseTube’s built-in video streaming and automatic transcoding functionalities, you can say goodbye to buffering nightmares and hello to uninterrupted enjoyment. So, transcode your videos today on a complete enterprise video platform and unlock the full potential of your streaming content!

Try EnterpriseTube free for 7 days, or contact us to learn more.
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People Also Ask

What is video transcoding?

Video transcoding reduces the file size or makes it compatible with different devices. Multiple video files of different sizes and formats are created while retaining the original file.

What is video encoding?

Video encoding is the process of converting digital video files from one format to another.

What is adaptive bitrate streaming?

Adaptive bitrate streaming adjusts video quality based on network conditions to improve video streaming over HTTP networks.

What are cloud transcoding solutions?

Cloud transcoding solutions fetch videos stored on a cloud platform and transcode those videos into different formats.


Posted by Rafay Muneer

Rafay is a Senior Product Marketing Strategist at VIDIZMO. He is driven to explore data protection and redaction solutions across various sectors. For any inquiries or assistance, feel free to get in touch at websales@vidizmo.com.

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