Transcoding is the process of taking an input video in one format and bitrate, and converting it into many formats and bitrates to make it playable on the majority of devices on the planet at any connection speed.

In The Livepeer network, nodes who play the role of transcoder, perform this very important function, and as a result it’s important that they have high bandwidth connections, sufficient hardware, and reliable devOps practices. These nodes are delegated towards and elected to perform this role, and they are rewarded with the ability to earn fees from the network.


Transcoder Megathread on Forum

Transcoder Election Dashboard (currently Rinkeby testnet)

Transcoder campaign thread

Livepeer Whitepaper

Transcoder chat

Becoming a Transcoder

We’ll walk through the steps of becoming a transcoder on the test network. Start livepeer with the --transcoder flag:

$ livepeer --rinkeby --transcoder --publicIP {nodeIP}

Run livepeer_cli, and make sure you have test ETH and test LPT as described in Getting Started.

$ livepeer_cli

You should see the Transcoder Status as “Not Registered”.

Pick “Become a transcoder” in the wizard. Make sure to choose “bond to yourself”.

At this point the interface will ask you to set 3 values if you have not set them already:

  • PricePerSegment - How many base unit Livepeer Token (LPT) will you charge to transcode a 4 second segment of video? Keep in mind that 1 LPT == 10^18 base unit LPT. Example 1000.
  • FeeShare - You will collect fees from broadcasters based upon the above price that you charge and how many segments you transcode. What % of fees would you to keep? The remaining fees will be passed to your delegators. Example 98%.
  • BlockRewardCut - All delegators are entitled to their share of newly minted inflationary Livepeer Token. Set the cut as a percentage that you will take from delegators who delegate towards you in exchange for doing the work of performing this valuable service of transcoding reliably. Example: 3%.

If Successful, you should see the Transcoder Status change to “Registered”

Wait for the next round to start, and your transcoder will become active. At this point, the Livepeer node should handle everything for you. The important thing is that you keep the node running.


After running the transcoder for a while, I get an error that says “too many open files”.

  • This means you have to increase the default file limit. This is a requirement for running an IPFS node. Since Livepeer transcoders run an internal IPFS node, we also have that requirement. The default file limit is 1024, increasing it to something like 4096 should be good. See this forum post for more details.

I get a lot of error messages saying things like “Error with x:EOF”. And a lot of times, the transcoder doesn’t do anything when it’s suppose to take some action (like call reward, do transcoding jobs, etc).

  • This is most likely because the connection between the Livepeer node and the Ethereum network is flaky. It is recommended to run a local Geth or Parity node when running a Livepeer transcoder. If you have a local Geth or Parity running, you can use the --ethIpcPath flag to specify the local IPC file location, which is a much more stable way to connect to the Ethereum network.

I get an error that looks something like “failed to estimate gas needed: gas required exceeds allowance or always failing transaction”.

  • This is because the gas estimator is giving incorrect estimates. To fix it, you can manually pass in a gas limit using -gasLimit. For example, $ livepeer -transcoder -publicIP x.x.x.x -gasLimit 400000.

TODO: These documents could be expanded with far more information about the transactions that a Livepeer Transcoder has to submit on a regular basis to avoid being penalized and to earn their rewards and fees.