Video Encoding Basics: A Checklist for Choosing a Video Encoder

Video Encoding Basics: A Checklist for Choosing a Video Encoder

A video encoder is a critical component of any video streaming workflow – which makes choosing the right one an important task. However, this can feel like an overwhelming task, especially for those who are newer to video streaming. And for more seasoned streamers, switching components can be a nerve-wracking proposition.

Fortunately, we have put together a checklist with the 10 most important factors to evaluate when selecting a video encoder, which is a part of our latest white paper, The Essential Guide to Low Latency Video Streaming.

What should you consider when choosing a video encoder? There are several important factors involved in choosing a video encoder, and their importance can vary depending on the use case.

We have created a checklist of the 10 critical considerations to bear in mind when selecting a video encoder.

1. Use Case

This is the single most significant question to ask yourself when looking for a video encoder. By establishing the purpose of the streamed video content, you can prioritize the elements that a video encoder can bring to your workflow.

2. Form Factor

The form factor of a video encoder is very important to a streaming setup, whether you have the space for a full hardware video encoder, or simply a blade. Some situations require ruggedized video encoders for harsh environments, especially when operating outdoors.

3. Codecs

It is important that the video encoder you are using is capable of supporting the video codec you want to use, in most cases HEVC or H.264. Some video encoders support both of these codecs, which is an excellent way of future-proofing your streaming setup.

4. Transport Protocol

Choose a video encoder that supports the video transport protocols best suited to your streaming application; for streaming encrypted video at low latency for broadcast contribution or live event production, consider an encoder that has native support for SRT.

5. Latency

To keep latency low in a video streaming workflow, you need to start from the beginning. If the video encoder is adding latency, there won’t be a way to “catch up” on that delay later in the streaming process. Therefore, choosing a video encoder with low latency is crucial for minimizing total delay.

6. Interoperability

A video encoder is part of a larger workflow or setup; it is imperative that it fits with the other pieces. Ensure that your video encoder is compatible with the other elements of your workflow – including your camera and decoder.

7. Ease of Use and Support Availability

This is more a function of who is operating the video encoder. While many broadcast engineers will be familiar with a variety of encoders and hardware, IT managers at corporate offices or volunteers at a religious or community organization may need a more user-friendly device with support available to them.

8. Reliability

Depending on the situation, some video encoders may have to contend with unpredictable networks such as the public internet. In order to ensure the reliability of the video stream, some video encoders have options like adaptive bitrate encoding to ensure that the best quality video possible is always available.

9. Quality

The video quality needed will greatly influence the kind of encoder required. There are video encoders that can stream in HD, and 4K UHD – although not all workflows prioritize that level of quality.

10. Security

Keeping video streams secure helps protect intellectual property and prevents unauthorized access to videos. Choosing a video encoder with security options like AES 128/265-bit encryption will ensure that streams are safe from the start.

Want to Learn More About Including a Video Encoder in Your Streaming Workflow?

This checklist is a part of our white paper, The Essential Guide to Video Streaming. It includes an explanation of the basics of video streaming, an overview of video streaming codecs and protocols, and tips from our years of video streaming experience. Download it today.

The Essential Guide to Low Latency Video Streaming

A comprehensive reference with everything from video encoding basics to advanced tips for optimizing your streaming workflows.

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