MOV Codecs Overview

Last Updated: Apr 30, 2014 08:52AM PDT
There are many various codec options for the MOV format. The default codec for most the MOV presets in Squeeze is x264. For the in-depth walk-through for customization of this preset, see the following article: x264 Preset Customization

The MOV format has more video codecs available than any other container to which Squeeze exports. This article will run down the ones that come default with Squeeze and QuickTime.  Note: if you download and install additional software or codec packs, such as the ones Avid offer for free, you will see them appear in this list as well. For more detail on codec add-ons, please contact the developers of the codec(s) you are interested in.
 
The above image shows the list of standard codecs as well as the free Codecs that are available from Avid.

Main Concept H.264
This is the default preset, and ideal for web output and anything that needs to be highly compressed, yet still maintain quality.

Apple Planar RGB
Is an compressed/loss-less 8b RGB codec. Similar to Animation but with a different compression scheme. The red, green, and blue values of each pixel are saved in "planes", three of which are combined to make a frame."

Apple BMP
An uncompressed codec that will output high quality files at very high data rates.

H.264
This is the Apple H.264 codec. It is comparable to Main Concept H.264, but generally doesn’t have the sharpness and clarity of the Main Concept codec.

Apple Cinepak
The quality of Cinepak is extremely poor compared to more modern codecs. It was the primary video codec of early versions of QuickTime and Microsoft Video for Windows, but was later superseded by Sorenson Video, Intel Indeo, and most recently MPEG-4 and H.264. However, movies compressed with Cinepak are generally still playable in most media players.

Apple DVCPRO 50 NTSC
A standard definition, 50 Mbps codec. The frame size will be 720x480 regardless of what the preset's frame size is set to.

Apple DVCPRO 50 PAL
The same as above with the PAL format.

Apple Dv/DVCPRO - NTSC
The 25 Mbps version of the DV/DVCPRO codec.

H.261
An outdated, low quality video codec. Not recommended unless you have a specific need for it.

H.263
Similar in quality to H.261, again to be avoided unless called for by the given project for compatibility sake.

Apple Intermediate
A solid looking codec that will produce medium/large-sized files suitable for editing or archiving.

Apple Photo JPEG
An uncompressed codec that can be scaled up to high data rates to maintain large amounts of definition from the source file.

Jpeg 2000
Another highly uncompressed codec with even higher data rates. Overall quality is inferior to other available uncompressed codecs.

Motion JPEG A and B
Identical to Photo-JPEG except that the MJPEG codecs have translators built-in to support the different capture cards. MJPEG codecs are often used as storage formats for large files that need to be archived with good quality. It is a lossy codec, but at 100% quality, the image degradation is minimal.
Motion JPEG A and B differ based on their use of markers. Motion-JPEG format A supports markers; Motion-JPEG format B does not.

Mpeg 4 Compressor
A rather highly compressed codec that yields fair results when working in high data rates. Inferior to h.264 for most applications.

Apple PNG
PNG is a modern lossless codec. It can typically get at least 2:1 compression on video content, for example, where Animation normally gets none. It also has extremely high data rates when pushed to the highest quality threshold.

Apple None
The None codec doesn't actually compress. As such, it is loss-less and produces huge files. It is often used as a storage format for files that need to be archived with perfect quality, as well as an intermediate format for files that need to have effects applied to them multiple times. Besides being called None, it actually does encode the video, but unless the quality settings are lowered, it will produce a file size larger than the original.

Apple Animation
A fast and loss-less codec ideal for outputting high quality uncompressed files. It is best suited for two-dimensional animation and computer-generated video content. It is lossy at quality settings from1%-99%, and lossless at 100%. Animation at 100% is generally used as a "storage" or intermediate work format.

Apple Video
An older codec that doesn’t provide as good compression as newer options, and should probably be avoided unless specifically needed for the task.

Apple Graphics
Similar to Animation codec, but provides higher compression ratios. This codec is comparatively grainy and will likely lack the quality of other high data rate compressions.

Apple TGA
Another uncompressed codec that will output enormous files in high quality.

Apple Tiff
Another uncompressed apple codec that doesn’t have any meaningful distinguishing characteristics from the other uncompressed codecs available.

Apple Component Video - YUV422
An uncompressed codec that operates in the YUV colour space, with 4:2:2 chroma sub-sampling (for practical purposes this means that it's only loss-less if your source video is in the YUV color space, which it won't be in your present case). Useful when importing analogue video.

Sorenson Video 3 Pro
A predecessor to the modern default of H.264, SV3 Pro is a highly compressed format suitable for web playback. Its one remaining outstanding feature is it will allow you to create a “media key” that will essentially require a password to play back the video, regardless of the media player.
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