If you happen to’re thinking about streaming media, you probably fall into one in every of camps: Either you already know something about transcoding, otherwise you’re wondering why you keep hearing about it. In the event you aren’t sure you want it, bear with me for a number of paragraphs. I’ll explain what transcoding is (and isn’t), and why it could be critical for your streaming success — especially if you wish to deliver adaptive streams to any device.

So, What Is Transcoding?
First, the word transcoding is commonly used as an umbrella time period that covers a number of digital media tasks:

Transcoding, at a high level, is taking already-compressed (or encoded) content; decompressing (decoding) it; and then in some way altering and recompressing it. For instance, you may change the audio and/or video format (codec) from one to a different, corresponding to converting from an MPEG2 source (commonly used in broadcast television) to H.264 video and AAC audio (the most well-liked codecs for streaming). Other primary tasks might embody adding watermarks, logos, or other graphics to your video.
Transrating refers specifically to changing bitrates, comparable to taking a 4K video enter stream at 13 Mbps and converting it into one or more lower-bitrate streams (additionally known as renditions): HD at 6Mbps, or other renditions at three Mbps, 1.8 Mbps, 1 Mbps, 600 kbps, etc.
Transsizing refers specifically to resizing the video frame; say, from a resolution of 3840×2160 (fourK UHD) down to 1920×1080 (1080p) or 1280×720 (720p).

So, when you say "transcoding," you is perhaps referring to any mixture of the above tasks — and typically are. Video conversion is computationally intensive, so transcoding normally requires more powerful hardware resources, together with faster CPUs or graphics acceleration capabilities.

What Transcoding Is Not
Transcoding should not be confused with transmuxing, which can be referred to as repackaging, packetizing or rewrapping. Transmuxing is once you take compressed audio and video and — without altering the actual audio or video content — (re)package it into different delivery formats.

For example, you may need H.264/AAC content material, and by changing the container it’s packaged in, you possibly can deliver it as HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), Clean Streaming, HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS) or Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH). The computational overhead for transmuxing is much smaller than for transcoding.

When Is Transcoding Critical?
Merely put: Transcoding is critical when you need your content material to succeed in more finish users.

For example, let’s say you want to do a live broadforged using a camera and encoder. You is likely to be compressing your content with a RTMP encoder, and choose the H.264 video codec at 1080p.

This must be delivered to online viewers. But if you happen to attempt to stream it directly, you will have a number of problems. First, viewers without enough bandwidth aren’t going to be able to view the stream. Their players will be buffering always as they wait for packets of that 1080p video to arrive. Secondly, the RTMP protocol is now not widely supported for playback. Apple’s HLS is much more widely used. Without transcoding and transmuxing the video, you will exclude virtually anyone with slower data speeds, tablets, mobile phones, and connected TV devices.

Utilizing a transcoding software or service, you can simultaneously create a set of time-aligned video streams, each with a different bitrate and frame dimension, while converting the codecs and protocols to reach additional viewers. This set of internet-friendly streams can then be packaged into a number of adaptive streaming codecs (e.g., HLS), allowing playback on virtually any screen on the planet.

Another common instance is broadcasting live streams using an IP camera, as would be the case with surveillance cameras and visitors cams. Again, to achieve the most important number of viewers with the very best quality allowed by their bandwidth and gadgets, you’d need to help adaptive streaming. You’d deliver one HD H.264/AAC stream to your transcoder (typically situated on a server image in the cloud), which in flip would create a number of H.264/AAC renditions at completely different bitrates and resolutions. Then you definitely’d have your media server (which might be the identical server as your transcoder) package those renditions into one or more adaptive streaming codecs earlier than delivering them to finish users.

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