Transcoding and Compression

Are you ready for some technical talk? Oh come on. How bad can this be? We’re just going to discuss things like transcoding. Which is not the same as transrating. Or transsizing. And then there’s transmux.

Transmux? Wasn’t that a Dr. Seuss character? No, wait. That was the Lorax.

We don’t expect you to have extended talks about these topics with our crew, so we’ll break this down simply for you. All of the above terms relate to the format your video is in, and the format you need. Yes, they can be two different things. Here’s why.


Transcoding and compression are vital steps that ensure your target audience can actually see your videos

When your video editor starts to work on your project, she or he will upload the raw video—the video from your shoot—onto a computer to edit it. Depending on the editing software being used, transcoding may be needed at this point. During that process, the raw video is changed over to a format that can be handled by the editing software.

Once the final video is edited, transcoding may be needed again depending on what you plan to do with it. Most often, video needs to be transcoded to be uploaded to your website or an external site like YouTube. Transcoding may also be needed to ensure the uploaded video is in a format that can be handled by a wide range of devices, from smart phones to tablets to desktop computers.

Video Transcoding

Why is transcoding needed at all? Can’t the video industry just come up with one video format that will be useful to all editing and viewing applications? That’s a great question. The answer is, there are just too many competing technologies to make this practical.

Like any other invention, these processes are protected by patents. This prevents other companies from taking major portions of an editing software, making a few minor changes, and passing it off as their own creation. New software has to be significantly different than already existing software in order to win a patent. On top of that, the processes used to play back video on a website don’t always mesh with the processes used for editing video. That’s why transcoding is so commonplace.

So what about those other “trans” processes? Briefly, they are also ways to change the video for different uses. Transrating just means changing the speed at which data is exchanged. In transsizing, you are essentially changing the resolution. In both cases, you usually keep the format the same. Transmuxing… well, that’s a bit more complicated than we can go into here, but it’s a process that you, as the customer, should not have to worry about.

Video Compression

Compression is another crucial process that ensures your video is viewable across multiple platforms and on multiple devices.  Basically, compression means changing the size of your video file (which is generally very large) into a smaller size that can be uploaded and downloaded more easily. That means it will not only be easier (and take far less time) to upload the video to your website or to an external site like Vimeo or YouTube,  it will also be easier for your viewers to watch it. Currently both sites have restrictions on the size of uploaded files, so if you want your viewers to see your video at all, compression is likely going to be part of the picture.

Compression is not just a single process. There are a few ways to do it, grouped into two categories: lossy and lossless. In lossy (yes, it’s really a word) processes, there is some sacrifice of video quality. But, it takes a lot of loss to make a perceptible difference to the human eye. While some data is lost, if done correctly the process won’t affect your viewers’ overall perception of the video. Lossless compression methods are simply that: there is no loss of video quality.

No blame to you if, at this point, you feel like downing a few painkillers and lying down with a cool washcloth over your eyes. This is tricky stuff. Stuff you shouldn’t have to deal with, but may end up needing to know if you go with a video production company that doesn’t provide full services like Hencar. We offer delivery services so that you don’t have to worry about compression, transcoding or trans-anything else.

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