Digital Video Encoding & Packaging

If you have a library of original media that hasn’t been prepared for the latest high definition broadband or portable media devices, we can help get you started quickly. Our high performance encoding server farm is set up to transcode digital video such as DVD or DV to streaming, downloadable, or portable formats.

Encoding Services

Click on any of the following encoding services to jump to that section below:

In each of our services, our process maintains an all digital path for the best possible results with any given source content.

Why Some Streams Look Bad

Poor vs High Quality Encoding

Close-ups of poor versus high quality encoding

Ideally, for a video to work best as a stream, every step of its production would be done with streaming in mind, even including the camera work and lighting. Stream compression techniques mostly rely on smoothing or averaging a lot of video down into as little data as possible, so the more areas of the screen that stay the same, or the longer something doesn’t move, the less data has to be sent over the modem.

For example, a long shot of a “talking head” like a newscaster reading the evening news will compress very well, because for a long period of time the only thing changing is the news anchor’s mouth and facial expressions. With only 5 or 10% of the whole screen changing, the rest of the picture can be 95% better quality. (Okay, so it’s more complicated than that, but you get the idea!)

By contrast, it’s very difficult to compress a music video shot in the latest hyper-kinetic attention deficit style, with cuts from one scene to the next every couple seconds, camera angles always on the move, and psychedelic coloring throughout. With every part of the screen changing constantly, the compression techniques can’t find anything to compress, so they end up wiping out every video frame’s details into ugly blocks that can be compressed to fit in the modem’s bandwidth.

Making Your Content Look Good

Not all video on the Internet looks bad. In some cases, the video was filmed for streaming. If the director, camera crew, and video editors know how stream compression works, they can make source video that will compress very well, looking great almost no matter what the bandwidth. If you produce your own content, we’ve got professional digital video producers (with experience such as hundreds of backstage shows for WWE) that can help you learn to shoot for the highest stream quality. Other types of video are already ideal for streaming: newscasts, educational lectures, or training procedures.

If your content wasn’t prepared specifically for streaming, or isn’t naturally suited to streaming, that’s where professional encoding specialists can help. Our specialists have been encoding streams since 1998, and have learned how to take video that isn’t ideal and manually pre-process your video to get every last bit of quality possible available for the final stream. The following discussion details just a few of their steps.

Source and Content Analysis

Some encoding shops run every customer’s video through the same encoding settings. This is the video equivalent of running every print from every customer’s rolls of film through the same automatic photo processor: you end up with a lot of really generic prints. Ansel Adams would spend days on a single photographic frame, looking for the final result perfectly suited to the lighting and color conditions of the original shot. Our specialists do the same with your video. They survey the venues or settings of the video, study the camera and editing styles used to produce it, and of course consider the overall quality of the media. They relate this to the thousands of videos they’ve encoded before, and set up to convert the video into digital media.

Video Cleaning and Preparation

EncodingThe specialists import the video from all types of source media, converting it into a digital video file on their video workstation. Once it is in digital form, they use a variety of processing techniques to “clean” the video into something more acceptable to stream encoding software. They may adjust visual elements like color, brightness, contrast, gamma, technical elements like smoothness or noise, or even audio elements. Some of this is science, but most of it is experience, which cannot yet be duplicated by an automated encoding process.

Master Encoding

After the digital video has been pre-processed, the specialist begins encoding a stream for each bandwidth you need. They can recommend window sizes or bitrates, or work within the settings you provide. They tune the encoding software to get top quality from any given content, and the results are amazing. With the right source content, they produce VHS quality in 300 Kbps (kilobits per second) and DVD quality in 500 Kbps.

Alternate Formats and Bitrates

Some encoding shops encode a video once for all bitrates and playback devices. Our specialists can do this, or preferably, encode for each playback device separately, tuning the encoding software differently for each piece of content, each bandwidth, and each device. This lets them use every available kilobit to maximum advantage, to make the viewing experience compelling for even lower bandwidth viewers.

We are set up to encode to Windows Media, QuickTime, Flash, Real, DiVX, and any other readily available format. With the HTML5 video tag and growing support for H.264 in the MPEG4 container (.mp4 files) across different players (Flash, Silverlight, and Quicktime, as well as the native HTML5 players built into Chrome, Safari, Opera, and the iPhone), it's finally possible to target most platforms and devices with a single encode.

Metafile Creation and Content Publishing

After your video has been encoded, special XML files are required to tell media players how to play the files. We can take care of making these, and can even publish the streaming content to whichever streaming network you choose to host your content.

When you host with us, the files are sent directly to your online video storage.

Automated Video Transcoding

If you have digital content already, created by digital video cameras, produced by software like iMovie, Final Cut, or even Windows Movie Maker, or copied from DVDs, you can upload that content to our network for automated transcoding into digital downloads or streaming media formats.

Or, if you operate a user generated content ("UGC") site that allows visitors to upload their own video, we can accept that video and convert it into the digital downloads or streaming media format your site offers.

We accept files in many standard formats, including MPEG1/2, MPEG4, AVCHD, Windows Media, Flash, QuickTime, DV, and more. We transcode to Windows Media, Silverlight, and Flash, in the latest versions and also typically support output to the most recent prior version.

The type of file we create is based on a "profile" that tells us the size, bitrate, and other parameters of the video you want produced. Many customers only use a single profile since all content on their site is the same size and bitrate. However, we're happy to configure any number of profiles, so you can produce, for example, a streaming file at 300 kbps, a download file at 700 kbps, as well as a "set top box" file at 2 mbps. In this example, you'd have your included profile plus two additional profiles.

Each video transcoding queue supports transcoding for one file at a time. If you upload multiple files, they are put into the queue, then are processed in sequence. Many formats take more time to transcode than the playback time of the file, so if you upload ten files that take an hour each to transcode, the process could take 10 hours. If you need to encode faster than that, you can subscribe to additional transcoding queues, to encode multiple files at once. For example, if you subscribe to 2 queues, you could process 10 hours of transcoding in 5 hours, or with 5 queues, you could process 10 hours of transcoding in 2 hours.

Check out our video transcoding pricing for more.

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