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Why Transcoding is Essential for Successful Streaming?

Are you working on the video streaming process? Then, you probably must have either heard of the word transcoding, or you already know something about video transcoding. Whatever the case is, if you want to understand the complete process and necessity of transcoding, and how it can improve the video streaming experience for your audience, you’re at the right place.

We shall understand the principle of video transcoding, and why it is important for successful video streaming along with some benefits and examples of the same.

What Is Video Transcoding?

The process of video transcoding involves unencoding an already encoded digital video file into a different bitrate (transrate) or file size (transize). This process takes place in the cases where different compatible playback formats are needed for reaching maximum target audiences, making the encoded video data more accessible. For example, if you’re a Netflix account holder, the reason you can easily watch your favorite movies or series on your smartphone and TV is due to transcoding.

For live streaming purposes, a live transcoder takes the form of a cloud-based streaming platform or a streaming server. This type of video conversion is a computationally intensive process, for which you need powerful hardware and software resources, including graphics and CPU acceleration capabilities.

Moreover, it’s not mostly about the bitrate and the size. There are other formats also available which can be used to change the audio or video fronts from one to another, like from MPEG source to H.264. Also, you can add watermarks, logos, and different graphics to your video, but this is possible only when the encoded video is decoded, which is impossible without transcoding.

Transcoding also encompasses into itself different similar terms confused more often:

  • Transrating – This term is used to describe when there is a change in a file’s bitrates, impacting the speed of the data travel between the networks. 
  • Transiting – This term refers to the resizing of the video frame from one resolution to another. 

Why Transcoding is Important for Successful Video Streaming?

Transcoding is very important when you want your content to reach the masses. For example, if you want to do live streaming using your camera and encoder. After recording you compress your content with an HLS encoder, and choose H.264 codec at 720p. Now, you can stream it online to your platform. 

But, if you try to stream it directly on your platform, it will cause some problems.

  • Bandwidth restrictions of different users will cause lagging and loading issues
  • Mobile phones and tablets with lower data speeds will face loading issues
  • You will lose your target audience’s trust and credibility.

You can use transcoding software, which helps you create a set of video streams, each with a different frame size and bitrate, converting protocols and codecs for reaching different compatibility viewers’ devices. Such a set of device-friendly streams are then packaged into different adaptive streaming formats (like, WebRTC), providing easy playback on mostly every screen.

Also, another crucial area of transcoding usage is Internet Protocol camera streaming, such as traffic and surveillance cameras in a residential area. This way many responsible people can watch the broadcasts for more transparency and better security.

Now, you all know that the largest provider of user-generated video content is Youtube, delivering around 300 hours of every-minute uploads, which cannot be possible without transcoding those videos. It is essential here to transcode every video for making it available in different formats and different qualities. This makes 20 different versions available for Youtube to transcode every original video into, and that’s why every new video is available in low-resolution until transcoded for higher resolution.

Let’s understand the necessity of transcoding through its benefits too.

Benefits of Transcoding

Here the major benefit provided by transcoding is the use of adaptive bitrate streaming (ABR), which builds a variety of media file formats for streaming to a huge network of devices streaming on different bandwidths. This makes it easy to understand the importance and working of transcoding, transrating, and transiting with each other for improved streaming.

With diversified resolutions and bitrates it is possible to not only spread over more devices but also deliver more effective streaming with the highest possible video quality, removing the cases of buffering and bandwidth dips. There are some benefits of transcoding with ABR technology:

  • Omni-Device Streaming 

You don’t just create compatible formats for different devices or protocols, but transcoding provides you with ways to target each playback device screen, bandwidth, and region. From Apple devices to Google or Microsoft, transcoding makes it possible to stream from mobile phones to large display projectors or screens.

  • Wide Audience Network  

Your goal is to increase your viewership, and to do so you need to consider the internet connection speed too for every target user. Users need content that is available for them no matter if they are traveling or dancing in the basement, transcoding makes it easy with the ABR technology in place which makes the accessibility of content easier.

  • Optimized User Experience 

The transcoding process also maximizes video quality according to the playback device screen, internet speed, bandwidth, and connection, with the help of ABR. You can optimize your video delivery quality to get the highest quality possible without affecting your streaming experience.

Let’s understand this with an example.

For example, let’s discuss the playback compatibility of the device.

If you’ve recorded a video with your camera and you’re compressing your video with a Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RTMP) encoder, you choose H.264 codec at 720p.

When you upload the content directly to the video streaming platform, your viewers will face a lot of issues. Most viewers will face bandwidth issues and won’t be able to load the stream, waiting for 720p pockets to download. Also, since the RTMP protocol is not supported for playback for various devices, it won’t load the video.

Therefore, you need to transcode and transmux the video first to reach most of your users with varying bandwidth and speed, and device compatibility. 

Final Thoughts

Transcoding your video files before streaming is an important step when the streaming is for a variety of end-user devices. Here, you understand why transcoding is essential for the successful video streaming process, with its benefits and an example. Now, you can easily transcode your videos without fear of mistakes.

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