What is Video Encoding, Decoding and Transcoding?

Hello coders, today I am going to talk about what is encoding and decoding videos mean. If you have heard about encoding, decoding and codes but have never gone on to find out what it was, let me do it for you. Let’s get into the article

1. Why do we need Video Encoding?

Video Encoding allows us to transmit video content over the internet more easily. Encoding is crucial as it compresses the raw video which reduces the bandwidth. This makes the video keep good quality and transmit easily without bandwidth issues. The main goal we are trying to achieve by encoding is reducing the size of the video without losing much quality. The video encoding process is imposed by codecs. We are going to discuss codecs later in the article.

2. What is Video Encoding?

Webopedia defines video encoding like this.

In video editing and production, video encoding is the process of preparing the video for output, where the digital video is encoded to meet proper formats and specifications for recording and playback through the use of video encoder software. Also called video conversion.

There are two types of video encoding processes. First one is live video encoding. YouTube is the best example of this. The second one is the file-based video encoding.

Firstly, let’s talk about Live video encoding. Live video encoding compresses the large, raw video and audio files so that they use less network bandwidth. This is really important since it is not efficient to send the uncompressed raw video over the internet. We won’t even have a platform like YouTube if we didn’t the video encoding technology.

When we talk about file-based video encoding, we don’t have the need to stream the video. Here the reason why we use encoding is to reduce the size of the video which makes it easier to transport the video from one place to the other.

In addition, re-encoding a video into a different format is also called encoding sometimes.

3. What is Video Decoding?

This is the complete opposite of video encoding. This is the process of uncompressing an encoded video in real-time. The encoded video and audio streams are converted into HDMI to be displayed on our computer screens.

This process is usually done by the video player that you use to watch videos on your laptop. There are some video decoders that can handle multiple input streams as well.

4. What is Video Transcoding?

Video Transcoding is converting an encoded stream from one format to another or from one size to another. So, usually what they do is they decode the stream and re-encodes it into the format we want. This process also can be done live or file-based.

Here the difference is that they are not decoding the encoded stream to the original source. What they do is that they decode the stream into an intermediate format called Mezzanine. Then they convert that stream into the requested format by re-encoding.

5. What are the Codecs and Codec Types?

Codec stands for Coder and Decoder. The codecs are the tools that we use to compress the video files. A codec can be a device or a computer program that encodes or decodes a digital data stream.

Different players support different types of codecs. Have you ever downloaded a video that your player couldn’t play eventually and it asked for you to download a codec pack? Nowadays, the player comes with almost all of the popular codes. Media Player Classic is one of the players that have never failed me in playing a video.

H.264 is the most commonly used video codec. There are several other codec types like MPEG-2, HEVC, VP9, Quicktime and WMV. There are audio codes available like GSM, iLBC, Speex, ITU G.711, LPC10 and etc.


This is it for today’s article guys. Thank you for tuning in. I hope you learned something valuable today. Don’t forget to drop a like and follow my blog. Stay Safe ✌

Published by Thisura Thenuka

I am a passionate software engineering student. But cricket is my first love ❤

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