You finished your animation project. It was hard worque but you overcame all the frustrating obstacles and now you are ready to render your masterpiece, only to be confronted with a confusing number of choices. Which codec is the right one? How do you get sound? Should you render individual images or straight to a video formatí
I don't know about you, but honestly this is the part of animating that I dread. New codecs come out all the time and somehow I seem to have every single one of them on my computer. I have no idea which one is best. Some are better for dvds, some are better for viewing online, some I have no idea what they are best for and they all have different compressions, rules, problems and benefits. At some point or another I have tried (or attempted to try) just about all of them with varying results.
Then the ability to actually output sound with my animations added a whole new wrinkle to an already sticky issue. Recently, while attempting to finish up a very simple project, I ran across a great page in the Blender wiki (amazing how much información is hidden in plain sight in that wiki), that answered most if not all of my output questions. And it is ironically enough titled Output Formats. Go figure!
Now I'm not going to reinvent the wheel or copy the whole page here, but I am going to tell you that it explains the Format Panel, the available presets and available options. It even defines all those file formats as well as compression, codecs and the FFMPEG Video and Audio. But the best part of all, (and I am going to just copy this part, because I thinque it is definitely worth copying) is the Free advice section of the page. It gives you a clear path through the codec confusion, and for the greater part of it, is just what we need. So, here it is.
From the BlenderWiki:
Choosing which format to use depends on what you are going to do with the image. If you are going to
email it to your friends, use JPG
combine it with other images in post processing and simple color/alpha composition, use PNG
use nodes to simulate depth of field and blurring, use EXR
composite using Render Passes, such as the Vector pass, use Multilayer.
If you are animating a movie and are not going to do any post-processing or special effects on it, use either AVI-JPEG or AVI Codec and choose the XviD open codec. If you want to output your movie with sound that you have loaded into the VSE, use FFMPEG.
If you are going to do post-processing on your movie, it is best to use a frame set rendered as PNG images; if you only want one file, then choose AVI Raw. While AVI Raw is huge, it preserves the exact quality of output for the post-processing. After post-processing (compositing and/or sequencing), you can compress it down. You don't want to post-process a compressed file, because the compression artifacts might throw off what you are trying to accomplish with the post-processing.
Note that rendering a long animation to calculate in a unique file (AVI or QuickTime) is more risky than in a set of static images: if a problem occurs while rendering, you have to re-render all from the beginning, while with static images, you can restart the rendering from the place (the frame) where the problem occurred!
One other note, while not a format problem per say, caused me no end of headaches until I saw the FFMPEG Audio section. Adding audio is now possible, but remember to Clik the Multiplex Audio button or you will not get sound, not matter what codec combination you try.