March 11, 2022
Published by
Mobii Systems
The not-so-subtle difference between encoding and transcoding

When it comes to managing video files, it’s important to figure out how to compress them in order to use them correctly. The first step to do so is identifying where the file comes from. 

Is it coming directly from a mobile phone, a GoPro camera, or even a VHS tape? If this is the case, the file needs encoding. Or is it an existing file on your computer that has already been transferred from any of these devices and you want to use it elsewhere? In such a case, the file needs transcoding. 

Both encoding and transcoding are ways of digitally converting these files (which, by the way, are not limited to video files; audio files are subject to the same process). But the differences among them are not subtle. 

When encoding a file, you compress it. Transcoding one doesn’t mean doing the exact opposite: it just requires you to change it into another format –and to choose between sacrificing quality, size, or speed. 

For both encoding and transcoding, you need to use codecs. They are algorithms able to change the original file depending on the requirements. Many different ways of compressing or decompressing a video exist, and codecs serve the purpose of fulfilling them. 

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