What is video encoding: The keys of video formats

In recent posts, we analyzed the growth of video and its arrival and influence into different industries. Due to this rise, video encoding has become critical, as the media needed to be adapted to different environments. But what is video encoding? Why do we have so many video formats? In this article, we answer some of these questions and analyze the main challenges that media asset management solutions must face to provide proper video encoding and adaptation to different formats.  

What is video encoding?

Video encoding is the process where a frame-to-frame video becomes a digital file of fluid video. That’s the simplest definition of the process. To understand it, we must travel to the past for a bit. At the beginning of the audiovisual era, a video was just a succession of frames played one after another at a specific speed. For example, a simple second of video included 30 different frames, and one minute had 1,800 pictures. While the video was exclusively stored in physical formats, space wasn’t a problem, but with digitalization, the size of these files was unaffordable for any system.  

Video encoding, compression, and digitalization

Therefore, engineers needed to reduce the size of the videos. The problem with this process is the loss of quality and resolution of the files. They squared the circle with video encoding. This step opened the door to media digitalization, as it allowed the creation of videos with less size without compromising their resolution. How? Thanks to video compression. 

Basically, this process analyzes the video and finds a way to lighten its size. Let’s simplify the explanation: Do we have two identical frames? Let’s erase one of them. Do we have multiple audio tracks? Let’s unify all of them into one. And like that, a succession of compression processes that reduces the size without compromising the file’s technical quality. 

Codecs: The tools of video encoding

Who is in charge of video encoding? The codecs. Ok, no worries, we will also explain what a codec is. Codec is the result of the contraction between the words coder and decoder (co/dec). A codec is a software or hardware device that codifies data or digital signals. They compress video files into different formats and reduce their size. 

The different platforms and devices rely on multiple supports to read and adapt themselves to these transmission codecs. Have you ever tried to play a video and found an error in your player? You may not have a streaming software capable of playing video encoded with that codec. 

About video formats 

Here is where video formats join the game. They are made up of different codecs that determine how the file is played, stored and transmitted. You’ve heard about the most common ones: .mp4, .mov, .flv, .avi, but there are thousands of them. Each one is created with a purpose and creates video files with a specific quality, size and compatibility with different systems. If we want a heavier file with a better quality, we will render our video in a format that enables that encoding. This step brings us to the next level.  

Adapt the video encoding to your purpose 

The channels and platforms for your video output will define the format of your videos and, therefore, their encoding. Consequently, the video encoding of a file uploaded to YouTube won’t be the same as a file broadcasted on a linear TV channel. Our storage system must be able to adapt videos to multiple formats. For example, if a journalist records a video with a mobile phone, our ingest system must be able to encode it into a valid format for its broadcasting. 

Ingest and challenges of video encoding

Therefore, one of the main challenges for a media asset management system is the adaptation to multiple video formats during the ingesting process. A state-of-the-art MAM system like VSNExplorer MAM must allow the user to choose between different video encoding engines in order to store this media in the correct format and for the media output for production, edition or distribution tasks using this file. Imagine that our MAM system doesn’t allow video encoding into a compatible format with YouTube or our video editing system. We would need to perform the video encoding process in a whole different system just to distribute and edit this media. 

With VSNExplorer MAM, you don’t need to worry about this process thanks to its video encoding capacities. VSN’s MAM System adapts video files to multiple formats chosen by the user, both for storage and video output processes. If you want to learn more about VSNExplorer MAM, do not hesitate to contact with our professionals and schedule your demo. 

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