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Recommendations for choosing a codec when exporting a video

Compressors/Decompressors (codecs) are third-party software, which greatly reduce file size while maintaining optimum quality. There are usually different codecs on different machines, depending on the types and versions of video creation, editing, and viewing software installed. All codecs supported by Microsoft’s AVI (Audio Video Interleaved) or Apple’s QT (QuickTime) that are available on a machine are available when exporting animations. They are listed on the respective Compression Settings dialog boxes. The Compression Settings dialog boxes are standard AVI and QT dialog boxes. Information about the codecs and their features is readily available on the Web or included with the software with which the codec was loaded onto a specific machine.

All the available codecs are provided when exporting, but it is entirely your decision to choose the codec that works best for you. The results of codecs are relative in terms of output video quality. Also, if you intend to send the output video to a client, you need to make sure that they have the same codec to decompress and view the file. You may find that a certain codec works well on one machine but doesn’t work well on another. To understand which codec gives better results, export a video with a smaller duration set and test which one works best for you. However, from the standard list of codecs for AVI and QT, the following codecs have been used with success and may work well for you:

  • For AVI, Full Frames (Uncompressed) is arguably the best codec, producing a high-quality video output. The resulting video size on disk could be very large, however, since there is no compression applied. Of the codecs that apply compression, Cinepak Codec by Radius and Microsoft Video 1 have been used with good results.
  • For QT, most of the QT codecs listed should work well since QT has regular upgrades. Cinepak, Sorenson Video, H.264 (noted for its high compression), and MPEG-4 have all been used with success.

Controlling the file size of the exported video

The file size of the exported video depends mainly on the desired resolution (width x height) of the output video, frame rate of the video, and the compression applied.

  • You can reduce the resolution of the original AVI file to significantly decrease the file size. This can be beneficial in cases when the exported video needs to be high quality and also small in file size. For example, when the file size of 720 x 480 is reduced to 320 x 240, both the length and breadth are reduced by a factor of 2, which means that the total amount of data used to represent the video is reduced by a factor of 4. This reduces the file size significantly. You can change the size of the output video on the Options dialog box.
  • The frame rate is the number of frames displayed per second (fps) in a video. The frame rate has a significant impact on the overall file size. Lowering the frame rate of your video to 15 or 10 fps can reduce the file size significantly. However, reducing the frame rate may affect the smoothness of the playback.
  • Choosing a codec, which applies lesser compression, generally results in a video of high quality. However, the file size on the disk increases. For example, when exporting an AVI, using the Full Frames (Uncompressed) codec results in a larger file size as compared to using the Microsoft Video 1 codec.

Read more at desktop.arcgis.com

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