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Video encoding is a must-do for anyone looking to upload videos to their website.

When creating new videos and uploading them online, you will often, if not always, be asked to compress the file before it can be uploaded. The compression process includes encoding, or transcoding, as it’s better known.

Why do videos need to be compressed?

Compression of files happens to minimise the size and allow it to consume less space. This process is called encoding. As with any other media format, the more compressed it is, the more quality it loses. However, compression is often necessary for compatibility with software.

For example, videos need to be compressed when uploaded to the internet as the raw file would be too large and the connection speed would not be fast enough to support it. By compressing the file, it lowers how much bandwidth is required. The size will also dictate the bit rate aspect, or the amount of data per second in the video, which makes a big difference between seamless streaming and buffering.

For compatibility, it goes beyond just the internet. Compressing to be a specific size is important, but often the need to encode videos is due to compatibility with software. This process is better referred to as transcoding. The ability to be compatible allows the video to become compatible with different programs that require certain encoding specifications. It also includes and increasing compatibility for playback.

What are codecs? 

Video encoding is dictated by what is known as video codecs, or video compression standards.

These codecs are comprised of an encoder and decoder, allowing the compression of the video for storage and the decompression for playback. Videos are often also bundled with audio streams that may have its own compression standards. An example of video and audio codecs are H.264, RV40 and MP3. 

Alongside codecs also exist the containers that encapsulate everything. A well-known container would be MOV, which originates from the word MOVie. The containers don’t dictate how to encode or decode a file but store the bytes from the codecs that allows them to be compatible to applications for playback.

In a more practical sense, you need to be aware of your hosting package and the limits, if any, of storage and bandwidth. Without compression, the file size of the video would be quite large and take up more space than you’re able to afford. An alternative to all of this, to save space, is to use a third-party video hosting site, such as YouTube or Vimeo. If you only need these videos to be accessible through your website, this is the perfect alternative as it takes away any bandwidth or storage concerns. In the case of YouTube, it could also act as another way for people to access your content.

Overall, video encoding is an important process to allow files to be compatible with a variety of software. Although the process will reduce the quality initially, it is an acceptable sacrifice to be able to play the media. However, if you do have concerns over the space taken up on your site, you always have alternatives.