The Video Codecs: A Catalog

When you decide to export your iMovie production as a QuickTime movie, you can get a great deal of control out of how the Mac produces the resulting movie file by choosing Expert from the dialog box shown in Figure 12-1, then clicking Options (Figure 12-5), and then clicking Settings (Figure 12-6). You get access to a long list of codecs.

As you can read in this listing, few of these codecs are very useful for everyday use. Many of them are designed for saving still frames (not movies), for storing your movies (not playing them), or to keep around for old times’ sake despite having been techniologically surpassed. Most of the time, the compressor called H.264 (for hard drive or CD playback) or Apple H.263 (for playback on computers with older QuickTime versions) are the ones that will make you and your audience the happiest.


The list of codecs in your dialog boxes may not match what you see here. Your codecs reflect the version of QuickTime that you have installed, which may be older or newer than version 7, described here.

  • Animation. This codec is significant because, at its Best quality setting, it maintains all of the original DV picture quality, while still managing to convert files so that they’re smaller than files with no compression at all. (As the name implies, this codec was originally designed to process video composed of large blocks of solid colors—that is, cartoons.) The resulting file is therefore huge when compared with the other ...

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