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What's a transcoder, what's the difference with an encoder?

Transcoder: In video streaming, a transcoder is responsible for converting video files from one format to another, often involving changes in encoding parameters, resolution, or bitrate. Transcoding is commonly used in adaptive streaming scenarios, where the video stream is dynamically adjusted based on the available bandwidth and device capabilities. The transcoder takes the original video file, decodes it, and re-encodes it into a different format or quality level to match the requirements of the target device or network conditions.

The key distinction between a transcoder and an encoder lies in their primary functions and purposes:

Encoder: An encoder in video streaming focuses on compressing and encoding raw video data into a compressed format suitable for streaming or storage. It takes the raw video input, applies encoding techniques to reduce file size while maintaining video quality, and produces an encoded video file. Encoders are responsible for the initial compression and encoding of video content.

Transcoder: A transcoder, on the other hand, deals with the conversion of existing video files from one format to another. It takes a pre-existing video file and performs a conversion by changing the video codec, resolution, bitrate, or other encoding parameters. Transcoding enables adaptation and optimization of the video stream during delivery, ensuring compatibility with different devices and network conditions.

To summarize:

Encoder: Compresses and encodes raw video data into a specific format suitable for streaming or storage.
Transcoder: Converts pre-existing video files from one format to another, adjusting encoding parameters, resolution, bitrate, or quality levels to match target device or network requirements.
Both encoders and transcoders play important roles in video streaming workflows. Encoders handle the initial compression and encoding of raw video data, while transcoders are responsible for converting and adapting video files to different formats and quality levels to ensure optimal playback on various devices and network conditions.

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