View Full Version : LW Renders: Which codec is best?

07-01-2004, 03:58 PM
Hi all,
I'm teaching a LightWave 3D course to middle school kids as part of a summer arts program. We're in a Mac Lab, and using LW 7.5 on eMacs. So the output renders are in the Quicktime format.

But for the kids who want to take their animations home on CD and play them on a Windows PC, what codec do I use for them? Cinepac looks miserable and makes the gradients appear all banded. Is there a setting for that codec I haven't used? As for the Mac users, I use the Sorenson 3 codec. But if there is a better one, I'd love to know. The reason I am compressing them is so the movies can run off a CD without hiccups.

I need an answer by tomorrow's class, so if you see this message and can help advise me, please chime in.


07-01-2004, 05:30 PM
I beleive the Sorenson codec is available for the PC as well. I personally prefer the DivX codec. It is an mpeg codec, seams to render fairly quickly, good quality. The down side is the license agreement. It is more for personal use unless you wish to perchase a commercial license.
You may be better off using one of Microsofts codecs. Use either Windows Media Codec ver 8 or ver 9. If your students are on pre-XP machines then probably ver 8. If they are on XP then ver 9. You may wish to tell them to update to ver 9 for the better quality display. Version 9 is capable of High Def displays. This codec should be available for the MAC as well.
If you don't want to worry about codecs. Then just render in mpeg1 format. Most Windows computers today can play mpeg1. They can not play mpeg2 however, unless they have a mpeg decoder which usually comes with a DVD player.
Hopes this helps

07-01-2004, 07:04 PM
Thanks for the help, Silkrooster!

07-02-2004, 11:34 AM
Well, I may of missed your class for today, but here are two threads where codecs are discussed at length:


You really should be rendering as an image sequence and not directly to a movie file. Then compile the sequence later. Too many things can go wrong.

07-02-2004, 01:12 PM
Thanks KM,

I visited the links for the other discussions and they helped my understanding of codecs choices. I choose to create Quicktime movies rather than single stills for later compilation because of time constraints. In the last day of class, I am juggling six students' need for a rendered 15 second movie with an appended music track. Given all the last minute tweaks to keep everyone's project from sinking, you can imagine how every second counts. I finally decided on Sorenson as the flavor of choice.


07-02-2004, 02:06 PM

Pretend for a second that you're rendering one of those 15 second movies at 30 fps you've got (30 *15)=450 frames. At frame 400 **ARRRGGHHHHH!!!**** the power goes out. If you are saving your file as a movie, you're basically screwed, you have to start over.

However, if you saved it as an image sequence, you just start over where the problem occured (frame 400 in this example) so you only have 50 frames to finish.

If you've got Quicktime Pro, the compile of the frames only takes a minute at most. Not really worth risking losing the whole project just to save a minute, IMHO. Especially if it takes several minutes or more per frame to render.

07-02-2004, 03:34 PM
Good point, KM, and if the renders were taking longer per frame I would absolutely go that route. Fortunately, nothing they are doing is putting huge demands on the CPU, so the per frame render times vary from 5 seconds to 20 seconds. And that's with SasLite being used on some of their goofy characters. I appreciate your advice.


07-04-2004, 11:00 PM
The best Video quality I've found so far is AVI using HUFFYUV compressor or the DIVX5 compressor. From there you can use just about any cheap Video editing software to convert that AVI to MPEG1 or MPEG2 for DVD. or basically any format you want for Internet streaming or CD or VCD.