Are you managing enterprise video across a variety of platforms? If so, you’ll need to consider a number of options as you prepare media for company-wide and possibly global distribution. But before you do, it’s important to understand the difference between two key video concepts: encoding and transcoding.
In a nutshell, the process of encoding involves taking raw, original and uncompressed source content and converting it to a compressed digital format. Often used in the context of encoders—which can be software or hardware based—encoding takes a live video source and converts it to a file, so it may be live streamed or archived in a digital format. A simple example of this would be taking a live camera feed from your onsite broadcast studio and encoding it to an Apple HLS live video for viewing on a mobile device over the internet or a MP4 file for playback as Video on Demand (VOD). Some examples of both old and new video encoding formats are as follows:
- Apple HLS
- Microsoft Smooth
- MP4 (including mp4, m4a, m4v, f4v, f4a, m4b, m4r, f4b and mov)
- 3GP (including 3gp, 3gp2, 3g2, 3gpp and 3gpp2)
- OGG (including ogg, oga, ogv and ogx)
- WMV (including wmv, wma and asf)
- MPEG-TS (or just ts)
- MPEG-2 PS/MPEG-2 TS
- WAV/Broadcast WAV
So, with the above in mind… if encoding covers all of the things listed above, what is transcoding and does it even matter? The good news is it does matter, and once you understand encoding, transcoding is actually a relatively simple concept.
The process of transcoding involves taking a file in one of the digital formats and converting it to another digital format, size or bitrate… and that’s it! The key to remembering the term is the prefix “trans,” which means “one to another.” As an example, on May 10th of 1869 when the transcontinental railroad was finally completed, the United States had a set of railroad tracks that would move people and goods from one side of the country to the other. Similarly, the process of transcoding involves moving a video file from one format to another. This would apply to both Video on Demand (VOD) and Live content.
One other important item to note is why transcoding is actually necessary. Given the wide variety of operating systems, browsers, viewing devices, hardware configurations, security settings and network bandwidths you need to deal with as a video professional, there is simply no “universal” video format and size. So, in order to deliver video to everyone in your organisation who wishes to view it, you have no choice but to transcode (and eventually deliver) video in as many formats, resolutions and bitrates as needed.
When it comes to corporate video, both encoding and transcoding are critical concepts to understand when processing and sharing video across an enterprise. For optimum results, your enterprise video platform should have all of the encoding processes necessary to bring any type of video feed into the platform, and all of the transcoding protocols necessary to share video in any format your users wish to consume it in.