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List of AVI Codecs by FOURCC

Inspired by Dave Wilson' site.
Original content used with permission.

This page designed to help you find a particular video codec vendor by fourcc,
when you need to play back or convert some existing AVI file.
Also it is important to make right decision whether you'd like to use the codec
to compress your new videos. Some of codecs are more popular, others give you
better picture quality, some codecs are faster but offer low compression ratios etc.
Unfortunately, no ideal codec exists...

The Method and Usablility columns use their own shortcuts
to describe basic compression scheme and possible codec usage.
See Notes for more information.

3ivx3IVXMPEG4RareFOURCC "3IV0" was also used for a while but never publicly released
Autodesk Animator AVI equivalent of FLI/FLCAutodeskRLEOutdatedDiscontinued by Autodesk
AP41AngelPotionHacked MS MPEG4MPEG4IllegalTends to crash some Windows Registry entries on a user PC
Asus VideoAsusYUVCan't encode except captureCodec supplied with the Asus TNT Video Capture adapter.
CDVCCanopus DV CodecCanopusDVDV camcordersUsed to allow video editing on a PC without installed DV hardware
Microsoft Video 1MicrosoftRLEOutdated, shipped with WindowsGood for training courses video encode
CVIDCinepakProvidenza & Boekelheide?Outdated, shipped with Windows, slow to encodeOriginally owned by Supermac then Radius, now P & B
About a 10 years ago was the best for photorealistic video encode
CYUVCreative YUVCreative LabsYUVRareSome products by Creative might use it.
DivX MPEG-4 low motion
DivX MPEG-4 fast motion
DivX teamMPEG4IllegalThis is a binary patch (hack) of the Microsoft MPEG-4 V3 codec
DivX 4, DivX 5 etc.DivX teamMPEG4Non-compliant with Video for Windows ICM specsWhile the "developers" of this codec still claim it is legal and not based on either MS MPEG4 or OpenDivX sources, it does not seem to be true. Even more bad news, the two-pass mode added in this codec makes it incompatible with any video editing application that conforms the standards.
DMB1Rainbow Runner hardwareMatroxM-JPEGRareMatrox Rainbow Runner video capture board uses this fourcc. You can use Morgan Multimedia MJPEG software codec to decode dmb1 videos. AVIedit includes built-in decompressor for this.
DV codecMany vendors of 1394 i/o cards and DV camcordersDVhome videoDue to high data rate of approx. 3,5 MB/s (12 gigabytes a hour) this codec is not very suitable for video storage and web delivery. On the other hand, this is native data format for DV camcorders and good enough for editing. DirectShow includes a DV decoder filter, while the VFW based applications must install the codec. Popular one is from Mainconcept, Sony, Adaptec, Canopus and other vendors also offer their DV codecs.
Elsa Quick CodecElsaYUVRareOnly ELSA capture cards use this codec.
ITU H.26nIntelMPEG-like-Rather good quality at low data rates. Today these codecs are not very popular (except videoconferencing) and seem to go outdated.
HFYUHuffYUVBen Rudiak-GouldHuffmancaptureLossless Huffman codec for YUV and RGB formats. Available in source and DLL forms. Due to fast but low compression you'd better use this codec at analog video capture time or as a intermediate storage compressor for multiple edits.
Indeo Video 3.xLigos?Old, shipped with WindowsDeveloped by Intel, now hosted by Ligos. Version 3.2 IV32 was very popular since it was the best codec shipped with original Windows 95. Compressor uses DCT and frame differencing, which results in color bleeding and blocking artifacts at high compression ratios, while being not very suitable for editing.
Indeo Video 4.xLigos?Old, shipped with Windowssee above
IV50Indeo Video 5.xLigos?Good quality at high data ratessee above (Personally, I think the only reason why Intel made these codecs was increase of sales of new Pentium and Pentium MMX CPU's. Being slower than other codecs (maybe except Cinepak) and often without any better picture quality, these codecs were like a programming exercise...)
Microsoft-RareRedmond's implementation (as it often happens, it's too unique)
MJPGMotion JPEG-MJPGCapture,
Since the Motion JPEG is de-facto industry standard, many vendors offer their implementations of the codec, including but not limited to
  • MainConcept
  • Paradigm Matrix
  • Pegasus Imaging
  • Morgan Multimedia
    Also this compression format is used by many digital camera vendors (Olympus, Fujifilm, Canon etc.)
  • MP41
    Microsoft MPEG-4 V1, V2 & V3MicrosoftMPEG4FrozenThese codecs were developed by Microsoft by draft MPEG-4 specs and were available some time ago with their Windows Media Tools (WMT) and MS NetShow package. However Microsoft has restricted the functionality of these codecs so that only native tools from Microsoft could use these compressors. The DivX team made a binary hack of MS MPEG4 V3 codec and called it DivX ;) Low motion codec. Currently Microsoft adds no more improvements to these codecs, but Windows Media Player still can download them off the mom site.
    MRLEMicrosoft RLEMicrosoftRLEOld-
    MWV1Aware Motion WaveletsAware Inc.WaveletEditing,
    While the quality is often better than MJPG at the same data rates, there are no other compatible codecs from different vendors.
    TSCCTechSmith Screen Capture CodecTechsmith Corp.?Screen captureThis codec used by Camtasia software, however if you want the other people able to watch your videos (presumably, training & educational), they must install the codec on their systems.
    VDONetFractalLow bandwidthLooks comparable in quality with early MPEG-4 codecs at the same low data rates
    On2's VP3 codecOn2MPEG4StartupYet another promising codec...

    Legend: Compression method
    Based on a colorspace conversion and subsampling
    Low compression ratios (3:1), high speed, high quality.
    Many proprietary implementations exist
    RLERun length encoding
    Good compression for line art, bad for photos (10:1 to 1:1), high speed, high quality
    LZW + HuffmanPKZIP-like compression, low ratios (about 2:1), high speed, lossless
    MJPGMotion-JPEG - same as .jpg files; good compression, high speed, does not use temporal compression, some blocking artifacts on high compression ratios
    DVDigital Video, looks like M-JPEG compression or better, high speed, does not use temporal compression.
    Used widely in hardware (camcorders etc.)
    WaveletGood compression, (about 100:1 to 2:1), high speed, less blocking artifacts than DCT-based and MJPG
    MPEG4In most cases based on hacked MS MPEG4 v3 codec, offers very good temporal compression (about 200:1), average speed, blurry and blocking artifacts on high compression ratios

    Legend: Usability
    A fast, high quality compressor with often low compression ratio. To provide better editing performance, uses spatial compression, does not use temporal compression, all video frames are key frames
    EditingHigh quality compressor. Speed and good compression ratio is desirable but not mandatory. Codec should not use temporal compression, all video frames are key frames
    StorageCompression ratio is high, quality is good and high for photorealistic images. Since the really high compression can not be done without temporal compression, it is hard to edit avi files that use such a codec type. Treat it as "one way ticket" (i.e. edit->save).
    Web delivery
    Low bandwidth
    File size and download time is more important than picture quality. Your audience will understand that visible compression artifacts are due to strongest compression. The difference vs. Storage is that we intentionally decrease video quality in hope to get the smallest file.
    OldThat is, a codec developed in 1990-1995, probably discontinued by vendor. You may have a download link or may not, unless the codec is shipped with Windows. If you intend to give your videos to Windows users only, this would provide them some extra convenience. Note, when you download a codec not from the official vendor web site, you may get in trouble (install a fake, spyware, trojan or virus infected application).
    IllegalCurrently only two types of video codecs fail into this category. One is, any shareware or commercial video encoder that places the company logo over the picture, and therefore was hacked someday. The other is DivX and about a ten of its clones, all made from the Microsoft MPEG-4 V3 codec. Unfortunately they use slightly modified (they call "improved"...) versions of the same compression scheme and/or different fourcc, that involves great incompatibility.
    RareSimply means that you can use the codec, but it is unlikely that anyone else does the same. 'Rare' implies that the codec is not superior, otherwise it could got more popular.

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