File Formats

There are many different file formats used for computer animations some better than others and some tailored to different purposes than others.

The most comon types include the (Animated) Graphics Interchange Format [.gif], the Small Web Format [.swf], the ‘.mov’ format, MPEG-4 [.mp4], and Windows Media Video [.wmv]

Each type of file is better suited to different applications than others and therefore they all have different features,

GIF files support transparency and have lossless compression so that image quality is not lost when the file is compressed. GIFs are commonly used for animations on webpages but have a litmited colour palete of 256 bits.

SWF files can be created using Adobe Flash and are often used for online applications such as on ‘YouTube’. They are uneditable once they have been produced but the files are already compressed so they have quite a small file size.

The MOV format is used Apple’s QuickTime multimedia software, they are quite a simple file type with no special features. They support graphics, video and audio.

MP4s are mainly used by Apple software as a replacement for the aging MOV format, again they can contain graphics, video and audio. A large range of different hardware and software such as iTunes, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

WMV files are a common format for animation and video created by Microsoft software such as Widows Movie Maker. These files can cantain graphics, audio and video and are supported by almost all Micosoft software. A High Definition veriant of the format is also avalible.

Converting Files

It is often nessary to convert from one format to another, this is often quite difficult, essesially if the format uses comppresion. Special software is often employed to do this conversion but quite often some quality is lost in the proccess. When creating animations using animation software it is normally possible to save it in many different formats.

Importing Files

Often people wish to include images and other animation into their animations. Normally the animation software such as Adobe Flash will import the file (and convert it if nessary).

Exporting Files

When you have finished creating an animation using computer software it is important that you export the file so that it can be watched without using the editing software. Exporting saves the file into an uneditable format ready to be uplioaded to the internet for instance.

File Managment

In eveything you do using a computer it is very important to keep your files organised correctly and easily. You should keep all of the components for the animation you are working on in one folder which is completely seperate from folders for other animaions. Doing this will make it easier for you to work and easier for other people to find what they are looking for should they need to. To save space you should keep files compressed and delete anthing you are not using or is no longer usefull, it is also a good idea to keep back ups. Remeber to save your work often as you may lose hours of work if the computer of software was to crash.


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