format question

hello all,

What is the best format to export animations to keep both quality and a reasonable size.

thank you.

I think a popular method is to export first in a non-lossy format (Avi RAW or PNG images for example) then post-process into a compressed format. For bigger works (long renders), you can output to images which is safer if something goes wrong part way through and if you need to fix something after export, you only need to re-render the fixed bit, not the whole animation. For shorter animations, you might find rendering to a RAW video format (I think Quictime PNG would also fit this category) more convenient.

Then, take either the images or the video file and compress it either using the Blender sequencer or other encoder (Virtual Dub, MPEGStreamclip, etc… depending on your OS) using the compression tool of your choice. DivX and Xvid seem popular. I get reasonable results from 3ivx (there are other choices to suit DVD, VCD and so on).

The big advantage of this method is you always have the raw data to play with and can trial various compressors for quality, size and compatibility without having to repeatedly render the animation from scratch. Rendering can take hours/days/weeks whereas re-encoding may take just a few minutes so you save hours.

The disadvantage of this method is the size of the raw video file or images. I recently rendered a one minute video to PNG files (1857 frames) at just 240x320 pixels and that folder of files weighs in at 157Mb. My first video compilation with mild compression was over 85Mb. After much investigating and learning, I ultimately managed to get a reasonable file (for email and web) of just under 3Mb. I found the quality still very good at 10Mb. If space is an issue, you may be able to run your first render using a high quality, lossy compression and work from this.