The Importance of Transcoding to a Mezzanine Format

With the rise of post-production software that lets you edit footage from a range of formats, many are wondering if transcoding to a mezzanine format is still necessary. While there are now situations in which transcoding may not make sense, the fact remains that most companies should still use a mezzanine format. There are several reasons for this.

First, if you are working with longer videos, you probably want to transcode. With a shorter video, you’re more likely to get away working with multiple formats without transcoding, because a shorter video is less taxing on your computer and is easier for your editing software to manage. In contrast, a longer video may cause your computer to grind to a halt while trying to generate previews or play back the footage.

Second, transcoding to a mezzanine format allows you to ensure every editing machine has the necessary codecs installed to work with every video file in your system. You won’t waste time figuring out what projects certain editors can edit on certain computers. And you won’t have to install codecs every time a new project pops up on a different computer.

Third, if you are working with only one type of camera—and therefore a single codec format—you may not need to transcode to a mezzanine format if your editing software can handle it. However, to be safe you may still want to transcode. Certain file formats are less stable than others, and you may find yourself wishing you had transcoded after you are already days or weeks into post-production. Make sure to search the web for information about your editing software and its stability editing the codec natively.

But the benefits of transcoding to a mezzanine format are about more than just video length and the codecs used. It can also affect your company’s infrastructure.

If your company is planning an investment in infrastructure, you may be  working with an integrator to create the specs for the a server and network infrastructure for multiple editing machines. This could include a fiber connection, ethernet, storage  hardware, and the network cards each computer will use to connect to the the servers and the Internet.

To determine the required investment in infrastructure, the integrator needs to know how many editors there are, how many streams they will view at a time, and what the typical bitrate of each stream will be.

Doing this without a mezzanine format would be nearly impossible, as different codecs operate at different bitrates. In a company where dozens of codecs are ingested, the integrator would be  left to guess at how much hardware to invest in. On one hand, she could overestimate, which would result in a steep and unnecessary capital expenditure. On the other hand, she might underestimate, creating a system that couldn’t handle the company’s level of video production.

But if your company transcodes all the media into a mezzanine format—for example, ProRes—the integrator would be able to accurately calculate the hardware infrastructure necessary for your team to get the job done without overspending on hardware.

To learn more about how a Media Asset Management (MAM) solution can automate the ingestion and transcoding of footage, check out Evolphin Zoom today.