Media Management
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Image_what is video encoding

What is video encoding?

Video encoding

Video encoding refers to the process of reducing the size of video files and streams as well as converting them into different formats for distribution. Video encoding is often used interchangeably with the term transcoding. But, they are not necessarily the same, which we will delve deeper into and explain later on. 

In this article about video encoding we’ll cover the following topics:

  • What’s the purpose of video encoding?
  • Is there a difference between video encoding and transcoding?
  • Does a video encoder for live streaming work differently?
  • How does software encoders work? (Common principles and applications)

Is there a difference between video encoding and transcoding?

In the theoretical sense, yes, in the practical, no.

The definition of video encoding and transcoding varies greatly depending on who you ask. Some claim they are the same thing, synonyms to each other. Others, that encoding is simply a process within transcoding. The definition has become increasingly blurred throughout the years. 

The original definition of the two is as follows:

  • Encoding converts from “raw” video into an encoded format
  • Transcoding converts from one encoded format to another 

At other times they are distinguished by what type of file they are turning:

  • Encoding - Turn an uncompressed file and turn it into another type of file format
  • Transcoding - Turn a compressed file and turn it into another type of file format

Does this matter in any significant way? Not really. If you keep treating them as synonyms to each other, you will do fine, and you can be sure they will continue to be used interchangeably with each other moving forward.

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Does a video encoder for live streaming work differently?

No, the basic principles are pretty much the same. An encoder for live streaming works as one creating files reducing the amount of data needed to contain or carry the video. However, the constraints on each process vary. For example, in streaming, latency - the time between a bit of video going in and coming out of the encoding process - can be incredibly important whereas, in a file-to-file process, it can be less significant. 

Note that currently, the encoding solutions available through VidiNet, the Vidspine media service platform, are focused on file-to-file and not live stream encoding.

Get access to video encoding software in VidiNet today

Through our cloud-based media solution VidiNet you get access to some of the best software encoders on the market including:

  • Our own video encoding software VidiCoder
  • AWS Elemental MediaConvert
  • Bitmovin video encoder

Contact us directly if you have any further questions about what video encoding is, or need help in getting started with our video encoding software through VidiNet.


Contact us to get a free demo or let us help you create a customized trial based on your needs.

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Written by

Vidispine team
Vidispine - An Arvato Systems Brand