What is video encoding and what are encoders for

All of the clips we watch on our computers, tablets, and smartphones have gone through an encoding process that converts the original video so that it can be viewed. This is because many types of devices and browsers only support certain formats.

Digital video can exist in many different formats — each with specific variables such as video containers (MOV, MP4, WMV, WebM), codecs (H.264, VP6) and bitrates (in megabits or kilobits per second).

There are many reasons why you would want to convert your videos. If we're talking about DVD files, they have huge sizes and are impractically divided. The only reason we still need it is that some people still use DVD players. It is incredibly outdated and several years behind current encoding development.

As for other video files — they are evolving. The same file size that allowed us to watch mediocre quality videos in AVI format in the past, now allows us to store HD 720p quality videos in MP4 format.

If you want to know what happens during encoding, continue reading.

How does video encoding software work

Encoding software works in the same way as a Zip file. It uses math to look for patterns in the video and replaces any repeating fragments with references, which reduces the file size. There is one big difference to note between Zip-file compression and encoding. A Zip file will return the file size to 100% after you decompress it (aka lossless compression).

However, when we encode or compress a video we want to put as much visual data as possible into fewer bits, so the compression algorithm discards details that are not considered necessary, resulting in some data loss (aka lossy compression). The challenge is to know what data can be discarded while maintaining excellent video quality.

In the vast majority of cases, encoding is the most time-consuming part of video processing. How long it takes depends on many variables, but as a general rule, a short video can take a few seconds, while a long video with a large file size using an advanced codec can take days.

Types of video encoding software

Most often encoders are used either to stream video or to convert it to a different file format.

The quality of your live stream can make or break your audience's experience. Lagging video and shaky audio detract from the message you're trying to share.

Encoding video content, converting RAW video files to digital is one of the best things you can do to maintain professional quality. This requires a dedicated streaming encoder, which can come in both hardware and software form.

When choosing a video encoder for live streaming, pay special attention to the features and how well they fit your needs. Do you need to broadcast to a wide audience? Maybe you're going to stream from multiple cameras or add special effects along the way? Also, check your equipment and live streaming platform requirements.

Video encoders are still in demand. You can find several free video encoders that provide high-quality video conversion in standard and high resolution.

If you're looking for a good video converter, make sure it supports a wide range of platforms: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS. And has a reputation for being reliable and easy to use. Because there is nothing more frustrating than a slow converter with an unintuitive interface.