Transcoding Media

How to convert a media file 101 for free

Steve Smith, host of your TQA Weekly, explains what transcoding media means and shares two free products that do just that task.

Episode #3-02 released on September 23, 2012

Watch on Youtube

Transcoding, a term used to define the action of converting media in one codec to another codec so that it may be viewable in another. Codec stands for Compressor Decompressor. It is possible to take a file using a H.264 format that may not work in some devices and convert it to DIVX.

The process of re-encoding a media file can be non-destructive, or lossless, because we can convert files from one codec to another, and as long as the bitrate, height and width, audio bitrate, etc... are exactly the same, then the only thing that changes is how it is compressed, and not the quality. The codecs used, have to be lossless in order to achieve this, or risk having generational data loss. A destructive form of transcoding would, also, occur whenever you extract audio from video, in which you only keep one portion of the whole recording, or when you change the format, size of the video itself, or change the bitrate. One way or another, it is always better to scale down, not up to maintain a clarity and consistency of the video or audio. Upscaling is destructive and incomplete in nature because you are missing necessary information vital to the creation of a better media file. If you upscaled a 640 by 360 video to 1280 by 720, you are missing almost 75% of all the information that would normally exist from an original 1280 by 720 file. Hence, why some media looks ugly in our newer high definition televisions and monitors.

The process of transcoding is made really easy by lots of free software. Even iTunes can transcode media to work with a multitude of their devices, and even converts WMA files into mp3s whenever necessary.

One easy solution is FreeMake, which makes the process really easy. Once you downloaded FreeMake Video Converter, install it. You can install without the toolbar, and other add-ons, remember to check those off. Open FreeMake Video Converter, drag and drop your media file, select the format you want it converted to, then answer the remaining questions the program asks, click convert, then wait for the transcoding to finish. This program is capable of converting many popular formats into others, and can convert unprotected Blu-Ray into other formats. For more information on FreeMake, go to their web-site at, which you can, also, make a donation, as this software is essentially free. They, also, have an interesting media downloader, if any of you are interested.

In iTunes, you can simply select an unprotected media, go to Advanced, and click on either Create iPod or iPhone Version, Create iPad or AppleTV Version, or Create AAC Version. This will allow you to convert anything you can already see in iTunes to something compatible to another Apple device.

Two solutions, for the same issue, both absolutely free to you, and on the Mac, iTunes does the very same thing for you.

Next week, we'll talk about the new iOS6 feature, Do Not Disturb, what it now means, how to use it, and why it should have existed before.

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Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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