* NOTE: This post has been recently updated. Please view our new post titled Encoding Versus Transcoding in Enterprise Video. Thank you!

It can be difficult to see the difference between encoding and transcoding. However, the distinction is an important one, especially in the world of video. In fact, they are both important processes that allow users to capture and share videos simply and easily.

So what’s the difference between encoding and transcoding? Here’s the 60 second overview.

Encoding takes raw, analog source content and converts it to a digital format. Think of converting old VHS tapes to .MPEG or taking a live camera feed and saving it as an .AVI on your hard drive.

Transcoding, then, takes that initial digital format and converts it to other digital formats. For instance, if you wanted to take the .MPEG you encoded from VHS and convert it to an adaptive bitrate format such as HTTP-Live-Streaming.

When it comes to enterprise video, both encoding and transcoding are important processes for ingesting and sharing videos throughout the network. Leading enterprise video portals will have encoding processes in place to bring any type of video feed into the platform as well as automated transcoding protocols in place so that videos can be shared to any device in any format.

When you’re getting started with video, it’s easy to be confused by these terms. Learn more about the differences between encoding and transcoding and how they can help your business to communicate more effectively.

“What’s the difference between encoding and transcoding?” was one of the first questions I had when I started working with video.

I had always used them interchangeably and after a quick internet search I was surprised that I did not find a clear answer.

While encoding and transcoding both represent ways of converting files between formats, there is a distinct difference:

Encoding, by definition, takes analog source content and converts it to a digital format. For example – converting a video on a VHS tape to an mpeg file or a video DVD.

Transcoding takes an existing digital format and converts it to a different digital format, like taking a sample video and converting it to an adaptive bitrate format such as HTTP-Live-Streaming.

Despite the clear differences by definition, I’ve noticed that only technical experts tend to use the term with distinction. People getting started with video are often left behind and confused between the terms like I was. I hope that with this short note, we were able to shed some light on this myth.

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