The Basics You Need To Know About Video Encoding

Failing to understand some basic principles of video encoding will result in weird-looking videos.

Although there is a debate on what encoding and transcoding is, our aim is rather simple—to create a video file from a source by reducing its file size while retaining maximum video quality. This is especially useful for copying a DVD or BluRay onto your computer, sending personal videos to your family over the web or for watching them on a mobile device. Some of these tasks can also be performed by a video converter.

Since encoding requires some knowledge, it will be helpful to understand some technical aspects of your original video and the output you want. Even when using automated detection tools, failing to understand some basic principles will result in weird-looking videos. For example, if you don’t deinterlace an interlaced video, you’ll end up with this:

Before encoding or transcoding a video, here are the basics you need to know.

  1. What codec and format are you going to use? As of now, H264, AAC and MP4 are the winning combination (best compatibility with modern devices, best quality/compression ratio).
  2. What quality, file size, and encoding speed do you want? You have to choose 2 out of 3, as each parameter affects the others.
  3. How to treat your source? Most of the time, the source is not optimized for playing on a computer: it can be interlaced, have black borders… You will need to learn interlacing, telecine, aspect ratio, cropping, bitrate and other notions so you can handle your source best. Tutorials are available at
  4. Is your source encrypted? Most encoders do not decrypt DVDs or BluRays by themselves. You will need a decrypter, like DVDFab HD Decrypter, DVDShrink or DVD43 (on the fly). With some tools, it is best to copy the files on your HDD before encoding.
  5. Encoding is CPU intensive. So depending on the specs of your machine, encoding a video could take a very long time.
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