What Is Transcoding and Why Is It Important to Video Streaming?

Video is essential to any successful marketing strategy. Though it’s long been a preferred medium for viewers to effortlessly digest information, video has gained further momentum as a fantastic way to inform your audience, gain exposure, and build authority.

With this being said, the effectiveness of a video campaign is driven by the way content is presented to an audience. Developing the right strategy has everything to do with ensuring every viewer has the opportunity to stream high-quality video that’s compatible with their device/internet connection.

If you’re intrigued to capitalize on research that suggests 85% of all internet users view online video content monthly, you’ll need to nail down the technical aspects of your video production. There will be multiple things to consider, including ensuring each video is transcoded in line with your target viewer’s needs.

But what is transcoding and what does transcoding video mean in practice?

Table of Contents

  • What is Transcoding?
  • What is Video Transcoding?
  • How Does Transcoding Work?
  • What Are Some Video Transcoding Examples?
  • Why is Transcoding Important?
  • What is Muxing?
  • Conclusion

What is Transcoding?

Transcoding is the process of a digital-to-digital conversion of one encoding format to another.

If you’re seeking a transcoding definition online, you’re likely to be overwhelmed with technical jargon that isn’t relevant to your search. To make your life a bit easier, let’s introduce transcoding in simple terms.

Transcoding is essentially any process that’s undertaken to convert a file into a different format. Your videos must be transcoded correctly if they’re to be accessible to a wide range of users. Transcoding takes account of user differences to deliver a consistent viewing experience across the board. If your videos are transcoded correctly you can rest assured your content will be playable in many contexts.

During the transcoding process, you’ll have opportunities to make multiple changes. For example, you could change the bitrate of your video in line with its resolution. Higher bitrates are preferable for better quality streaming, but it’s important to be wary of large file sizes. If you’re looking to reduce the bitrate of a file the process is known as transrating.

What is Video Transcoding?

Transcoding centres around transsizing, which involves resizing the video frame of a piece of content. High frame rates like 1080p are great for viewers who have the bandwidth to consume media this way. Higher frame rates generate higher quality videos, but not everyone can view high-resolution media without experiencing playback issues.

That’s why it’s often best to transcode videos into multiple formats so the viewer can select a frame rate that’s suitable for them. Video can also be transcoded so that the viewer automatically receives the best quality video that’s available to them at a given moment.

Video transcoding involves taking compressed/encoded content, and decompressing, altering and recompressing it.

Video transcoding is different from video encoding, which involves compressing raw video files into smaller sizes. Transcoding involves unpacking and encoding a file from one codec into another one. 

Video transcoding always involves changing a file from one format to another.

How Does Transcoding Work?

Transcoding can be accomplished via software of your choice. It can be executed on a computer, dedicated media server, or SaaS platform.

It is a process that often takes significant time to complete, even with the most powerful computers. With that being said, it’s better to take advantage of significant hardware and computer resources. You’ll benefit from working on a computer with a high-performance processor, high RAM, and graphics acceleration.

There are many different video transcoders in the ecosystem, Dacast being one of them. Most video converters allow you to accomplish more than transcoding, but all have the overarching objective to help you create a file format that’s conducive to a better all-around experience.

Videos can be transcoded via local open-source software or in the cloud.

Local transcoding is done via video editing or converter software. Let’s address the commonly asked ‘what is transcoding in video editing?’ question in the simplest way possible. Transcoding can be coordinated during the video editing process.

However, transcoding can also be performed BEFOREHAND in converter software to format a file so it’s appropriate for editing.  This is done to prepare a file for better compatibility during editing.

You may also have an option to upload a file to the cloud and select a suitable format for it. The file can then be re-encoded into different available versions.

Though transcoding can be accomplished for free, the chances are you’ll have to pay for either a cloud subscription fee or the premium edition of your editing software.

What Are Some Video Transcoding Examples?

For example, you might convert a huge 3K video attempting to play on a mobile device.

Video transcoding can be difficult to conceptualise. When overviewing the concept, the theory behind it can make sense but be more challenging to visualise in reality. With this being said, let’s take a look at some simple transcoding examples so you can get a better understanding of how it’s used in practice:

  • Let’s say you shoot a high-resolution video on a 4K camera. It would be important to consider whether the content could be streamed by most of your viewers. You’d need to think about whether the file is in a suitable format for editing. Smaller files are easier to manipulate and edit in software. Transcoding into the right file format will ensure the video is compressed in a way that better suits the editing and later viewing experience.
  • You’ve just done a live broadcast. If you have a copy of your broadcast you could transcode it into different formats so it can be enjoyed by a wider audience pool on a wider range of devices.
  • The WMV video file format is only really compatible with Windows. However, you can transcode a WMV file into MP4 format so it’s more accessible across different devices, apps, and browsers.
  • You’ve just shot a video on your smartphone. It will probably be in the HEVC or H264 format. These are both very intensive and require high-end processors for seamless editing. Since not all of us are privy to this level of processing, you could transcode your smartphone video files into ProRes or DNx. These formats make it easier to edit your content quickly.

Why is Transcoding Important?

Transcoding enables you to deliver video content in formats that generate exceptional playback for your audience. It’s designed to overcome the large nature of video files, which are often this big due to the desire to create an exceptional streaming experience for viewers.

By transcoding, you can compress the size of a video file to guarantee the same exceptional playback regardless of who’s clicking on it. By executing transcoding correctly you can enhance the user experience and also improve your own workflow via better performance within your editing software.

Transcoding will ensure you have a common file type that all collaborators can work with. It’s faster to transcode than it is to contend with multiple file formats.

Let’s say you have a fast internet connection and device that permits you to play the highest quality videos in existence. However, you visit a site to find a video that can only be played in limited resolution.

You’d be left wondering why you even bothered getting the best of the best. One of the biggest incentives for having the best possible technology at your fingertips is the ability to stream the highest quality content.

If you transcode your videos correctly, people will have a chance to view your content in the highest possible quality that’s available to them. Finally, they’ll be able to capitalize on having the best technology and will be positioned for an optimal experience.

What’s great about transcoding is that the same video can be offered up to viewers with slower internet connections. They’ll also have an opportunity to view content at a quality their device can handle.

Therefore, transcoding is crucial if you’re keen to meet your audience on their terms. Consumer demands are evolving by the second, so keeping up with the competition means delivering customisable content that covers all bases.

What is Muxing?

Muxing is an abbreviation of multiplexing. The process involves combining various video and audio inputs into a single container, incorporating elements like subtitles and metadata. Containers come in forms like AVI, MOV, MP4, etc. 

The muxing process involves uniting the individual inputs of your video together. It is achieved when you export a video from your editing software. When you save your file, the muxing process will combine the individual elements of your video into a single output like MP4 or MOV. All the individual components will be compiled together in a single file format.
If you’ve entered this section wondering ‘what is transmuxing?’, you’ll be pleased to learn this term is used interchangeably with muxing.

In summary, transmuxing involves repackaging and packetizing the individual elements of a video into different delivery formats. This is achieved without altering the state of the audio, video, and text content within your video. 


Transcoding will be vital to the health of your video strategies. Fail to transcode at your own peril. If you’re keen to secure widely compatible video formats for better collaboration and editing, transcoding is the perfect solution.

Most importantly, transcoding will help you make a fantastic impression on your audience. They’ll be more likely to trust you, benefit from better quality video, and ultimately be more likely to convert to paying customers.

Embrace the importance of transcoding and you’ll be one step closer to delivering video in formats that are ideal for your audience.

Don’t just take our word for it, though. Dacast offers a free 14-day trial, so you can check out all the features we have to offer and more. So make an account now and see how far Dacast can take your video creation.

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Austen Lenihan

Austen is a highly relatable content writer who goes above and beyond to satisfy the user experience.