What are video encoding formats?

Technology behind videos went through some significant transformations throughout the past few decades. The rapid development of the internet contributed a lot towards the above-mentioned fact. Back in the day, videos were created by including a series of images. However, videos nowadays are mainly in digital formats. This is where you can discover different video encoding codecs.
If you are new to video technology, you might get confused due to the presence of multiple video encoding codecs. Let’s explore what they are all about.

What exactly is video encoding?
Video encoding, in its most basic meaning, is the process of converting RAW video recordings to digital files so that they may be preserved as fluid movies rather of separate pictures. Encoding is also a catch-all phrase for a variety of methods including changing the size of a video file.

Here's a definition of video encoding that captures the essence of the situation:
"Video encoding is the process of preparing the video for output in video editing and production, where the digital video is encoded to fit required formats and criteria for recording and playback using video encoder software."

When you think about what encoding is in terms of a more concrete analogy, it becomes clearer. Consider a simple flip-book. When you swiftly turn over the page, the photos are arranged in a manner that makes them seem to move. RAW video files function in a similar way.
RAW footage was the standard in the early days of digital video. This implies that video files were nothing more than a collection of still photographs. You have 30 images per second of footage for a movie captured at 30 frames per second. That works up to 1800 photos each minute. As a consequence, video file sizes were astronomically large.

The only logical answer was to compress the videos, however this resulted in a loss of quality. Engineers created video encoding, which allowed these data to be compressed without sacrificing quality.

What is video decoding? 
Encoding is incomplete without decoding. Decoding is the process of unpacking data that has been compressed for transmission and is the polar opposite of encoding. The video player acts as a video decoder in the context of internet video streaming. Decoders include set-top boxes and game consoles. The latency of your stream is mostly determined by the performance of your decoder.

What are the most popular video encoding formats?
As you learn more about video encoding, you should also figure out what the most popular video encoding formats are. There are multiple video encoding formats, which are used for different purposes. The right video encoding format would determine how your input video should be processed. Moreover, it clearly demonstrates how the video is transmitted, stored, and viewed as well. Here are the most popular video encoding formats.
-    MP4
-    QuickTime 
-    FLV
-    WebM 
-    AVI
-    MXF
-    LXF
-    MKV
-    MOV
You will need to make sure that the specific video encoding format you use matches perfectly well with the selected live stream encoder and the online video platform.

What is video compression?
Encoding is used in video compression to minimize the size of a digital video file. It examines the content of a movie to determine which frames are necessary and which may be removed in order to minimize the total file size. If the data for two frames is almost similar, you may remove one frame's data and replace it with a reference to the preceding frame. In this easy example, you may cut the size of your video clip by nearly half.

This procedure is used in all forms of video compression to minimize file sizes. However, when we speak about video encoding, we're talking about a particular sort of video compression. Typically, video compression takes place at the camera level. Smartphones, consumer-grade camcorders, and most professional camcorders, for example, use the H.264 video codec to capture video. This implies that the RAW pictures from the video sensor are encoded in real time while the camera is recording, often using the H.264 codec. After that, the compressed (or encoded) video is saved to the camera's storage.

What exactly are codecs?
"Codecs" are the tools that are used to compress and playback video files. The terms "coder" and "decoder" (co/dec) are interchangeable. A codec is a visual encoder that compresses or decodes a digital stream of data or signal. It is usually a physical device or computer software. They shrink raw video and audio data by compressing them between analog or digital versions.

Various streaming codecs are supported differently by different devices. Have you ever downloaded a video and then attempted to play it only to discover that it wouldn't play? It's possible that you didn't have streaming software that could play video encoded with the that codec. H.264 is the most used and best video codec nowadays. This protocol is supported by almost every device on the planet, and it's widely used with internet video. MPEG-2, HEVC, VP9, QuickTime, and WMV are some of the additional codecs that are accessible.

What are containers? 
A container is a component of an encoding format that houses the audio and video codecs, as well as the information for the video being encoded. All of this data is saved in a single file by the container. Different codecs and video players are compatible with different containers. Broadcasters must, however, choose containers that are compatible with their complete streaming infrastructure.
The names of file formats usually match to the kinds of containers they utilize. The MOV encoding format, for example, just says that it uses a MOV container.

What is the definition of transcoding?
Another essential technique linked to encoding is transcoding. In fact, it's often seen as a kind of encoding. The practice of compressing one video to produce many versions of various sizes is known as video transcoding. Broadcasters produce these versions in order to broadcast the one that makes the most sense dependent on the internet connections of the viewers. Because it relates to modifying the bitrate of the video file, transcoding is also known as "multi-bitrate encoding." Transcoding technologies are usually included in professional internet video platforms. If your online video platform does not allow this technique, you'll need to employ a transcoding encoder.

Video encoding and video quality 
The comparison between video size and video quality matters when it comes to streaming video. High-resolution video files are bigger, take longer to upload, and demand more bandwidth from users. Low-quality video files are usually smaller, demand less bandwidth from users, and take less time to upload.

Consider your internet connection to be a tube. The bigger the tube, the quicker your connection. The pipes for low-speed Internet connections are thinner. Large files must be squeezing through them. As a consequence, you run the risk of stuttering and buffering streams for your customers.

Choosing lower-quality films, on the other hand, ensures they'll be accessible right away, no matter where your customers are viewing them. The footage, though, will not be as excellent. If you have a goal bitrate in mind but are having trouble achieving acceptable streaming video quality, you'll need to make some compromises.

Understanding Adaptive Bitrate Streaming 
Adaptive bitrate streaming, also known as "variable bitrate streaming," refers to sending a suitable rendition of a video to a viewer dependent on their internet connection's strength and speed. If you've ever viewed YouTube videos or Netflix on your smartphone while driving, you've probably come across adaptive bitrate streaming. Video quality is excellent when the cellphone signal is strong. When the signal strength declines, the video quality is automatically reduced to prevent buffering. Adaptive streaming's underlying technology is invisible to you and your consumers. 

How to encode videos for slow internet connections? 
Because video files are often bigger, they demand a high internet connection and a considerable amount of bandwidth to adequately show. When the internet connection is sluggish, the video begins to stutter and is often of poor quality.

To ensure a stable playback, you may match your total bitrate to their download speed. To figure out the settings to utilize, we suggest doing a quick trial and error test. This will assist you in determining how low a video's bitrate may be while keeping acceptable quality.
Start with a high frame width and a low bitrate to do the test (around 512kbps). Check out how the video appears with these settings. If the picture quality isn't up to par, consider reducing the frame width or raising the bitrate. Also, be sure to encode your video in several formats. Adaptive streaming ensures that viewers receive the greatest possible quality when viewing.

Final words
Now you have a good understanding on what video encoding is all about. Make sure that you have a strong understanding about different video encoding formats and uniqueness of each and every format out of them. Then you will be in a position to use the most appropriate video encoding format as needed. 

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