Peter BC
Video encoding stage

What is Encoding Software?

We provide cloud video encoding solutions through our cloud-based media service platform VidiNet.

Peter BC
Difference between Encoding Software and Hardware
Cloud Video Encoding
Video Encoding on VidiNet
Book a Demo

Encoding software and hardware are two very different beasts. Each type of video encoder has its specific advantages and disadvantages when encoding videos and live streams. In this article we’ll talk about the pros and cons of the software video encoder and the hardware video encoder, how they differ from each other, and what cloud video encoding is and what advantages it holds over the other types.

What Is Encoding Software?

Software encoding is by far the most common way of encoding live stream nowadays. A software encoder is a program you run on your computer or laptop to encode videos or live streams. So even though we call it “software encoding”, it still is reliant and requires hardware to function.

Pros of encoding software

  • High-quality video output
  • Flexible with a lot of customization options – easy to change both the bitrate and video quality
  • Easy to keep up to date when new versions and video formats are released
  • Cheap
  • Can support multiple inputs for cases when you will be using several cameras or recording devices
  • Easy-to-use software where you can mix videos, add titles, background music and overlay graphics directly in the encoder

Cons of encoding software

  • High dependency on hardware – is only as good as the computer you’re using
  • High power usage and resource intensive – a lot of streamers use a dedicated computer just for encoding
  • Inconsistency issues stemming from CPU limits, internet connection issues and/or security problems

Note: These drawbacks of software encoding are not applicable when talking about cloud video encoding as you don’t have to rely on your own hardware, and instead have access to dedicated video encoder hardware and almost limitless processor power from the company you’re buying the service from.

What Is Encoding Hardware?

Hardware encoders do a similar thing as a software encoder, but instead of running on your computer, it uses dedicated processors with their own designed algorithms to encode video and data to the desired format. Hardware encoders usually come in the shape of small, portable boxes or larger permanent fixtures.

Pros of encoding hardware

  • Fast output since the latency is very low
  • Reliable – with dedicated devices you are less likely to run into trouble with them
  • Low power usage in comparison to encoding software

Cons of encoding hardware

  • Expensive – starts at a few hundred dollars and only goes up from there
  • Lacking functionalities – they do not typically include multiple inputs or any kind of switching capabilities. Will need extra switching/mixing equipment or software to be able to use multiple cameras
  • Lack of customization features – most encoding hardware has a fixed video quality
  • Are at times pre-programmed with old codecs, making it difficult or sometimes impossible to update to work with new formats
  • Requires additional software to be able to mix videos, graphics and audio
  • Lacks the scalability of cloud encoding software

Is There a Difference between Encoding and Transcoding?

In a theoretical sense, yes. From a practical viewpoint, they are pretty much identical.

Very often, video encoding and video transcoding are used to describe the same thing, but even though they both refer to the process of converting a video file into another format, there is a slight difference in their definition. A video encoding software by definition converts “raw” (analogue) video to an encoded format while a video transcoder converts one encoded format to another.

Read more about the difference between encoding and transcoding.

What Is Cloud Video Encoding Software?

The most recent development within the encoding industry is called cloud based video encoding. It possesses the beneficial features of software encoding, without the disadvantages and limitations from running video encoder software on local hardware. Cloud video encoding is simply a more flexible version of video encoding software benefitting you in the following ways:

  • Constantly updated to work with the latest formats
  • Unlimited process power for fast encoding at scale
  • Completely scalable on all levels
  • Available anytime, from anywhere, on any device

Using Cloud Video Encoding on the Vidinet Platform

The traditional way to encode before cloud video encoding was to use your own hardware encoder or simply run an encoding software on your computer. If you didn’t have enough processor power to match your needs, you simply bought another hardware video encoder or upgraded/bought another computer.


Cloud video encoding is, in essence, the exact same thing as video encoding software – an encoding program running on a computing device. The difference is where the encoding takes place, in this case: on Vidispine's cloud media service platform VidiNet, where all our cloud video encoding services are available. It’s simply a software encoder up in the cloud you can use from anywhere, at any time, from any device – with endless scalability to match your needs, where you only pay for what you use.


Why use any of the cloud video encoding software available on VidiNet?

The encoding environment is a jungle with layers upon layers of complexity, always in development where new formats and new technology are introduced every day. By using VidiNet's live stream and cloud video encoding services you can focus on what you do best: your business.


Vidispine has several close partnerships with some of the industry's greatest companies who possess the knowledge and expertise of all formats available on the market. They help us keep our encoding service up-to-date with the latest developments in the industry, which means whatever format you need your video or live stream in, we got it. This includes formats such as H264, MP4, XDCam HD, Apple ProRes, and codecs such as H.265/HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding) – currently one of the best fitting formats for 4K and 8K content.


If you want to avoid the hassle of trying to find a compatible hardware video encoder or simply don’t have the time to try and keep up with the latest formats and updates, try VidiNet. Our video encoding platform is completely scalable and can benefit all companies regardless of size and budget.

Transcoding and video encoding services via VidiNet across channels

Also available in VidiNet are several different powerful, scalable and cloud-native transcoding and packaging, transcoding and video encoding services. They are all natively integrated with our API-based digital asset management platform, and compatible with files in cloud storages such as Amazon, Microsoft Azure and Google. Cloud video transcoding and video encoding services available in VidiNet include both our own and our partners different solutions:


  • VidiCoder
  • AWS Elemental MediaConvert
  • Bitmovin video encoder

Q&A’s for Software Encoding

  • Software encoding is the process of using encoding programs you run on a computer to encode videos and live streams. In contrast, instead of running on software, hardware encoding use dedicated processors with their own designed algorithms to encode.

  • Hardware and software encoders each have their advantages and disadvantages when encoding videos and live streams. Neither is necessarily better than the other, it all depends on how and for what it's going to be used for. However, software encoders are by far the most common way of encoding nowadays. 


Get in touch with our media experts

We would love to hear from you.

If you have any questions or want to contact us, do not hesitate to reach out! 

You May Also Be Interested In


VidiNet is a cloud-based platform at the heart of the content ecosystem. The foundation for a broad range of applications and services, VidiNet provides a robust footing for the complete content chain.

Cloud Video Transcoding

Learn what cloud video transcoding is and how our cloud transcoding software can simplify your media workflows.

Article hub for all you need to know about video, media and content

Learn more about video technology development

Your Contacts for Video Encoding

John Proctor
Expert for Broadcast Solutions - North America
Peter BC
Peter Booth-Clibborn
Expert for Broadcast Solutions
Dirk Steinmeyer
Expert for Broadcast Solutions - Europe & MEA