John Gonzalez

Transcoding Tips and Tricks
By John Gonzalez

Those of us in the digital video industry deal with a lot of different video file types. For PEG broadcasters catering to a community full of independent producers and filmmakers, the likelihood of being handed an obscure file type is evident. As a company that specializes in digital video, we at LEIGHTRONIX spend a lot of time obsessing over this fact. Our UltraNEXUS-HD™ and UltraNEXUS-HD Blade™ video servers are compatible with a number of different video file types to help ease the burden of broadcasters everywhere. However, there comes a time in every video professional’s life when a certain file type just won’t work. Maybe a colleague asks to be emailed the rough cut of a video for review, but the M2T file is too large to send. Perhaps access to a LEIGHTRONIX encoder or video server isn’t readily available for uploading and a broadcaster wants to use the web upload feature on VieBit® instead, but the video a community member passed along is a bloated AVI file. These things happen, and when they do, it’s important to have an idea of how to deal with them.

Transcoding Tips and Tricks

General Considerations

There are loads of programs out there with the ability to transcode. Any real software recommendations are more reliant on accessibility and affordability. Many of our customers who edit video happen to have Adobe® subscriptions, so Premiere® and Media Encoder often come up as potential transcoding options. This isn’t to say those are the end-all programs for transcoding, however; a cursory web search will reveal a number of additional programs varying in scope and cost.

Though the available settings may differ greatly, the general processes are very similar across video editing software. For in-depth instruction on how to transcode within individual programs, refer to their respective manuals and tutorials. Regardless of what you’re using to transcode video, keep the following things in mind:

  • If you’re overwhelmed with transcoding options, give the presets a shot. As long as you know what kind of container you want (.mpg, .mov, .mp4, etc.), the default values just might yield some decent results. Need a quick rundown on containers and compression schemes? Check out our video describing the different elements of a video file.
  • Keep the intended use of your video in mind. Will you be streaming it? You may want to lower the target bitrate. If your output is in H.264, consider checking out this article on setting different profiles based on how the video will be viewed.
  • Be aware of time constraints. Transcoding can potentially take a significant amount of time. Make sure to give yourself extra time before broadcasting or streaming.

Free Alternative

VLC Media Player

VLC Media Player

Do you need to transcode something in a pinch? Well, if you’re one of the millions of individuals using VLC Media Player on your computer, you may already have a basic transcoding tool in your repertoire. VLC Media Player is a free, open-source digital video player. We package it with WinLGX™, the scheduling software used by all UltraNEXUS-HD series products. Surprisingly, in addition to being a fantastic video player, it also has some basic transcoding functionality. The options are limited, but VLC Media Player is something that can easily be deployed.

Simply open up the player and choose Convert/Save under the Media drop-down menu. From there, click Add… and select the video you want to convert. Click Convert/Save to begin the transcoding process. At first glance, conversion seems limited to H.264 profiles, but should you need some older elements, click the wrench and screwdriver icon beside the profile for a whole slew of customizable containers and codecs. Once settings are finalized, choose a folder for the newly-transcoded videos to export to and click Start.

Even with the broad compatibility of LEIGHTRONIX products, the need for transcoding is always a possibility. Whether you’re on a budget, or have a full suite of expensive video editing programs, converting a video file from one type to another doesn’t have to be a painful process. Following the tips above and relying on presets can take you a long way.

John manages the daily operations of the LEIGHTRONIX Technical Support team and coordinates software and firmware testing and releases. He also troubleshoots analog and digital video systems, provides software support, and handles TCP/IP networking.

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