Recent advances in computer vision and neural networks have made it possible for more surveillance videos to be automatically searched and analyzed by algorithms rather than humans. This happened in parallel with advances in edge computing where videos are analyzed over hierarchical clusters that contain edge devices, close to the video source. However, the current video analysis pipeline has several disadvantages when dealing with such advances. For example, video encoders have been designed for a long time to please human viewers and be agnostic of the downstream analysis task (e.g., object detection). Moreover, most of the video analytics systems leverage 2-tier architecture where the encoded video is sent to either a remote cloud or a private edge server but does not efficiently leverage both of them. In response to these advances, we present SIEVE, a 3-tier video analytics system to reduce the latency and increase the throughput of analytics over video streams. In SIEVE, we present a novel technique to detect objects in compressed video streams. We refer to this technique as semantic video encoding because it allows video encoders to be aware of the semantics of the downstream task (e.g., object detection). Our results show that by leveraging semantic video encoding, we achieve close to 100% object detection accuracy with decompressing only 3.5% of the video frames which results in more than 100x speedup compared to classical approaches that decompress every video frame.