What is transcoding?

Kristiane Ekrheim & Craig Bird
December 13, 2021
What is transcoding?

In order to manage and publish your video content to your streaming service, your video files need to be uploaded, retrieved and transcoded before it's ready for playout.

Transcoding a video file in the cloud means that you create several different versions of the video file in order for it to work on all different end-user devices with various bandwidths. Packaging content into different bitrates and aspect ratios enables what one can call adaptive streaming (an industry term frequently used to describe fast and efficient streaming), meaning the correct format and resolution suited for the correct device and bandwidths.  

Why does cloud transcoding matter?

Quality is an important part of end-user satisfaction. No one wants to watch their favourite TV show with low resolutions that take a long time to load, or even worse - that won't load. In order to achieve broadcast quality, having professional transcoding is important.  And it means you give your viewers the best possible available quality of content for every moment they are watching.

Cloud-transcoding also has an impact on costs as it removes the need for purchasing and renewing hardware. It also outsources the management and maintenance of the software, meaning less overhead for internal teams.  Another benefit of utilizing the cloud is that software updates happen automatically, meaning you will always have the latest and greatest version of the software. 

If you are transcoding your videos using legacy solutions, this job can potentially take weeks. Using a cloud transcoder not only speeds up this process but can also reduce manual labour.

How does transcoding work?

There are multiple cloud-transcoding vendors out there. Including Vimond. Our solution, VIA Orchestrate, is natively integrated into our video CMS, VIA, where you handle all your video content and assets. VIA Orchestrate covers the whole VOD workflow from retrieval, through packaging to distribution, which means that you don't have to find multiple suppliers or solutions to cover the workflow and can manage and monitor the video pipeline from within the VIA CMS. Another advantage is that Orchestrate is built on Amazon Web Service (AWS), using the latest available technology. That means that VIA Orchestrate supports almost all input and output formats supported by AWS MediaConvert, so you can be sure to generate the formats that you need for your OTT Services to keep your viewers happy.

What is retrieval?

When uploading video files, the first step is retrieval. That means downloading the mezzanine or high resolution source file and archiving it to an internal S3 bucket for storage before transcoding.

What is video transcoding?

When the file has been downloaded, the transcoding job start. Video transcoding means converting the video files from one format to another so it can work on all different devices with different bandwidths.

What is video packaging?

In the packaging process, the transcoded video output is used to create video streams for delivery to a wide range of devices such as connected TVs, mobiles, desktops and gaming consoles. To achieve this device reach, the packager will typically package HLS, DASH and Smooth formats on-the-fly (also known as just-in-time-packaging or JITP). The packaging phase will also apply DRM protection to your streams if needed. Since you don't need to transcode and store all formats and bitrate variants, applying dynamic packaging to your content can help you save on transcoding and storage costs.

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Video transcoding with Via Orchestrate

With Via Orchestrate you are able to do video transcoding and statically or dynamically package files with Digital Rights Management (DRM). The video transcoding happens using our new support for MediaConvert in addition to the existing MediaPackage (dynamic/JIT packaging) we support. This helps address customer use cases where MediaPackage isn’t feasible to use (For example, due to content quotas/limitations or packaging/data transfer cost considerations).

VIA Orchestrate comes with out-of-the-box defaults, designed for retrieval of your original content files, transcoding them and package them up into a range of formats suited for your viewer devices and in different bitrates for adaptive streaming to ensure your audience always gets the best quality content.

With more than a decade of experience in the streaming industry, Vimond has a focus on making the best use of new technology and an emphasis on serving customer needs efficiently and resiliently.  VIA Orchestrate is the latest software release to capitalise on those years of experience, combined with the latest cloud-based technology. As a result, Vimond offers a premium video pipeline for video retrieval, transcoding and packaging.

As a cloud-native solution, utilising the benefits of multi-tenant, serverless, and stateless cloud technologies, VIA Orchestrate was ´soft-launched earlier this year, having been carefully developed in partnership with customers. Through much of 2021, the product has been thoroughly put through its paces in production environments, migrating hundreds of terabytes of content for some of the world's biggest content providers and in use 24/7 to manage business-critical news and entertainment video pipelines.

VIA Orchestrate covers the principal needs of many organisations, to bring your VOD content to viewers, and with the global appeal by supporting multiple subtitles and audio tracks for multi-language content.  With a flexible approach to ingest either manually or by automated feed, VIA Orchestrate will retrieve, do the video transcoding, package statically or dynamically, distribute it, and publish files back to Vimond VIA. This way all files will be ready for playout to audiences worldwide (or geo restricted!).

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