John McGowan's AVI Overview: Video and Image File Format Conversion

How to convert AVI to MPEG?

AVI to MPEG Conversion at a Glance Company/Author(s) Product Price URL --------------------------------------------------------------------- Corel PhotoPaint $500? Ulead MPEG Converter $249 Xing Technologies XingMPEG Encoder $89 XingMPEG Encoder 2 (May 6, 1997 release) CeQuadrat PixelShrink $199 Vitec MPEG Maker $125 MainConcept MainActor shareware avi2mpg1 Unknown freeware Stefan Eckhart and others CONVMPG3 freeware kit Ligos Technology LSX-MPEG Encoder $179.95 ------------------- Further information, reviews, and live links follow: The following posting from the USENET newsgroup provides a good answer to this question. I have retained the header to insure proper credit to the author. Note: LW refers to the Lightwave 3D animation software package. From Wed Oct 30 18:16:34 1996 Path:!!a2i!!!!!!ne ws From: Valery Newsgroups: Subject: Re: AVI to Mpeg converter Date: Mon, 28 Oct 1996 15:15:14 +0100 Organization: Technical University, Delft Lines: 58 Message-ID: <> References: <01bbc33f$05021880$d73d93cf@cube176a> Reply-To: NNTP-Posting-Host: Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit X-Mailer: Mozilla 3.0 (Win95; I) Mariusz Jesmanowicz wrote: > > Hi, I use LW to do animation, and basically I am not happy with any of the > compression engines aviable for avi. Those codes suck. So what I want to do > is make an UNCOMPRESSED AVI and then translate it to MPEG. anyone know of > any good converters to MPEG or hoe about plug-in for LW to be able to do > MPEG files from the start. > > Thank You Hi, you're right, every single AVI compression codec is lame. 5 years of the AVI format existance and zero progress so far. If you're talking about freeware or budget-priced MPEG codecs, it's a tough task, to find the damn thing. I'm busy in this area quite for a while already, and here are my findings: 1. XING's MPEG encoder is a classical name on the scene. Had compatibility problems before, not anymore, I believe. Can cost you $150 or more, not sure. Scan for 'XING' on the Net, you'll definitely find some tracks ( doesn't show up). 2. Stefan Eckart's CMPEG (DOS) encoder is FREE and GOOD, and stays so for a couple of years already. Can have troubles converting some particular streams, but generally not worse than many commercial programs. (You need to make a TGA sequence first out of your AVI, though). Again, scan for CMPEG, or use my bookmarks found on the site Im introducing below. 3. To my surprise, Corel Photopaint 6 has got very decent built-in MPEG compression option. Open an AVI, Save As an MPEG, and see what happens (get some coffie, as it'll take a while ;) I checked it out on a stream where CMPEG gave up and the Corel's conversion did make a wonder. (If you like to see the result, download my 'Liquid Beatles' morph clip, 1 Mb: 4. Ulead's MPEG converter ( seems to be the major player (priced below $250) on the Windows arena. I've heard good references about their MPEG's quality, but I feel that their biggest advantage is good integration with Windows and AVI format. If I'm not mistaken, a very slow codec. 5. Don't mess with DARIM Vision's codec (Korea). I've tried their demo, it produces low-quality crap. Though fast and cheap (you bet :-). See my MPEG clips, fractals, morphs, and in general lots of advanced graphics at Hope this helps, Valery --------------------------------------------------------------- In addition to the above, there is MPEG Maker from VITEC-HTS (formerly Vitec Multimedia). Vitec is: Vitec 4366 Independence Court, Suite C Sarasota, FL 34234 Voice: (941) 351-9344 FAX: (941) 351-9423 CeQuadrat makes a software-only AVI to MPEG converter called PixelShrink. CeQuadrat is: CeQuadrat 1804 Embarcadero Road, Suite 101 Palo Alto, CA 94303 Voice: (415) 843-3780 FAX: (415) 843-3799 And the freeware kit CONVMPG3, a collection of MS-DOS utilities that can be used to convert AVI to MPEG-1 or MPEG-1 to AVI. CONVMPG3 includes Stefan Eckhardt's CMPEG MPEG-1 encoder mentioned above but also includes utilities to generate the sequence of Targa files required by CMPEG. The URL for CONVMPG3 is: avi2mpg1 is a freeware command line application for Windows 95/NT that can convert AVI to MPEG-1, supports audio, video, and interleaved audio/video. MainConcept's MainActor product now (March 1997) includes add-on modules to output MPEG-1 and MPEG-2. With these add-on modules, MainActor can convert AVI to MPEG-1 or MPEG-2. Marcus Moenig at MainConcept provided an evaluation copy of the MPEG-1/2 modules. In tests, these modules could convert AVI files to MPEG-1 that could be played using the ActiveMovie software MPEG player shipping with Microsoft's Windows 95 OSR2. MainConcept is: MainConcept The URL for Ulead is: Ulead MPEG Converter On May 6, 1997, Xing announce a new product, the Xing MPEG Encoder 2 which accelerates MPEG encoding using Intel MMX instructions on PC's. The original Xing MPEG Encoder did not use MMX instructions. The Xing MPEG Encoder 2 can convert AVI and WAV files to MPEG-1. The URL for Xing is: Xing Technology Corporation Ligos Technology markets an LSX-MPEG Encoder to convert AVI to MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 Ligos Technology 1475 Folsom St. Suite 200 San Francisco, CA 94103 +1-415-437-6137 +1-415-437-6139 FAX For further information on the MPEG digital audio and video format see Tristan Savatier's comprehensive MPEG site: and The MPEG Home Page: Return to Top

How to convert AVI to QuickTime files?

Microsoft Windows

Intel's SmartVID, a DOS and Windows application, can convert .AVI to .MOV files. SmartVID is codec independent. This means that SmartVid preserves the video compression scheme from the source .AVI file. TRMOOV.EXE Windows 3.1 Program Converts AVI to QuickTime for Windows movie. The QTW movie will play on a Macintosh with QuickTime 1.5 or later. Note: My experiments converting some .MOV files to .AVI seem to playback ok, unlike the .AVI to .MOV conversion. Source: Found on CD-ROM with the "How to Digitize Video" book (see below). On Net: Please Note: TRMOOV and SmartVid preserve the compressor used in the source file. For example, if the AVI file was compressed with Cinepak, the MOV file will be compressed with Cinepak. Since Cinepak is supported by both Video for Windows and QuickTime this is not a problem. However, if the compressor exists only in Video for Windows or only QuickTime, then there will be a problem. Mainconcept's Main Actor can load many video and animation formats. It can also save many video and animation formats. The Windows version of Main Actor can load AVI and save the file as QuickTime. Adobe Premiere 5.0 for Windows 95/NT can import and export both AVI and QuickTime. Adobe


On the PowerMacintosh, Microsoft distributes the Video for Windows 1.1 Apple Macintosh Utilities. These include an AVI to QuickTime conversion utility. The Video for Windows 1.1 Apple Macintosh Utilities include: * Read Me file. * QuickTime-to-AVI conversion program. - this utility is called "VfW Converter" * Utility for moving AVI files to the Macintosh. - this utility is called "AVI to QT Utility" * Windows Compressors system extension, which contains compressor/decompressors (CODECs) for Microsoft RLE, Microsoft Video 1, and Microsoft Full Frame formats. - this component is called "Windows Compressors" To retrieve the Video for Windows 1.1 Apple Macintosh Utilities: On the PowerMacintosh, the program AVI->QuickTime can convert AVI to QuickTime. At least, it can convert the video successfully for subsequent playback with Apple's MoviePlayer. I have seen problems with the audio. This application is available at various Web and ftp sites in the file avi-to-qt-converter.hqx This may be the same AVI to QuickTime converter included with the Video for Windows 1.1 Apple Macintosh Utilities; I have not confirmed this. One site with AVI->QuickTime is: Return to Top

How to convert AVI to animated GIF?

GIF Construction Set

Gif Construction Set from Alchemy Mindworks reportedly can convert an AVI file to an animated GIF file. Alchemy Mindworks, Inc. Web E-Mail: FTP:

Microsoft GIF Animator

Microsoft's GIF Animator for Windows 95 product can reportedly convert AVI to animated GIFs (GIF89a format). Information on GIF Animator including a dowloadable version is available at the Microsoft Web site (11/7/96) on the Microsoft Image Composer page. Web


MainActor, a shareware software product for Windows 95, Windows NT, and OS/2 reportedly can convert AVI to animated GIF.


Ulead reports that is has added AVI to GIF to Ulead's PhotoImpact GIF Animator 1.2 Beta (11/16/96) Ulead Toll Free Number: 1-800-858-5323

Adobe Premiere

There is (Feb. 1998) a free plug-in for Adobe Premiere 4.x to convert AVI to Animated GIF. See the Adobe Web site to download this and many other plug-ins for Adobe products:

GIF Movie Gear (Gamani Productions)

GIF Movie Gear from Gamani Productions can reportedly convert AVI to Animated GIF and vice versa. Return to Top

How can I convert an AVI file to a sequence of bitmap images?


Microsoft's VidEdit video editor can convert AVI files to a sequence of Microsoft DIB files, such as test.avi --> test00.dib, test01,dib, etc. Further information on VidEdit is available in the section of the AVI Overview on editing AVI.


There is a freeware DOS program called AVIRIP that can convert non-compressed AVI files to a sequence of TGA (Targa), RAW, or DIB files. AVIRIP is available with the convmpg3 freeware toolkit for converting AVI to MPEG and MPEG to AVI. Further information on convmpg3 is available in the section of the AVI Overview on converting AVI to MPEG. Phade Software's MPEG Site has CONVMPG3

Jih-Shin Ho's Display

Display by Jih-Shin Ho Available at or other Simtel mirror sites. This is a 32-bit MS-DOS program that can read and write many image and movie file formats.

DeBabelizer Pro

Equilibrium's DeBabelizer Pro for Windows 95 and NT 4.0 reads and writes about 90 common and not-so-common image formats. DeBabelizer Pro also reads and writes AVI files. DeBabelizer Pro can read an AVI file and export it as a sequence of still images in the many image formats that it supports. On August 3, 1998, David Gartner of Equilibrium wrote: Equilibrium adds AVI with sound support to DeBabelizer Pro 4.5 **AVI Video with Sound** DeBabelizer Pro 4.5's new full AVI support enables users to batch process legacy Video for Windows files for use on most any Macintosh and Windows systems for the Web, CD-ROM or kiosk. Video for Windows (AVI) was built into Windows 95 and NT and runs only on Windows machines. Now, with a few keystrokes, DeBabelizer Pro 4.5 users can automatically optimize, convert, and compress tens, hundreds or thousands of videos to QuickTime 3.0, animated GIFs or a variety of other cross-platform video and animation formats. DeBabelizer Pro has many other features beside file format conversions. Equilibrium has a demonstration version of DeBabelizer Pro on its Web site. This is definitely demonstration version. The demo version plasters the word Equilibrium all over any images that it processes. DeBabelizer Pro ($595 Suggested Retail Price) Equilibrium 475 Gate Five Road, Suite 225 Sausalito, CA 94965 1-800-524-8651 or (415) 332-4343 Return to Top

Smacker (.SMK Files)

Smacker is a special 8-bit color video format from RAD Game Tools used for video and computer games. Smacker files usually use the file extension .SMK RAD Game Tools provides free Smacker Utilities at their Web site: The utilities can convert an AVI file to a Smacker video file (.SMK file). The Smacker utilities calculate a good 8 bit palette for the input video. Return to Top

RealNetworks Networks RealMedia Streaming Format (.RM Files)

RealNetworks has a streaming media format known as RealMedia with the file extension .rm using RealAudio audio compression and RealVideo video compression (RealVideo, also known as ClearVideo, is Iterated Systems fractal video compression). RealNetworks provides a product known as RealSystem Producer Plus to author RealMedia files. RealSystem Producer Plus can import AVI files! Return to Top

How to convert a sequence of bitmap images to an AVI?

Note: A number of Windows applications can convert a sequence of still images in one still image file format, such as TIFF, to a sequence of still images in another format, such as Windows 3.x BMP. These are discussed in the How to Convert a Sequence of Still Images in One Format to a Sequence in Another Format section of the AVI Overview. Use these still image conversion programs to convert a sequence of bitmap images into a format supported by the various programs below such as VidEdit which can convert sequences of still images in a particular format to an AVI file.


Microsoft's VidEdit software (16 bit Windows) can read in sequences of Microsoft .DIB files and convert them to an AVI file. More information on VidEdit is available in the section of the AVI Overview on editing AVI files.

Video for DOS

A shareware program called Video for DOS (VFD) can convert sequences of Targa files (.TGA) into AVI. (11/8/96) Video for DOS can be downloaded from Thanks to John Avis for information on Video for DOS.

AVI Constructor

Michael Caracena's AVI Constructor is a shareware program that Michael Caracena (Oct. 3, 1997) writes... The newest version of AVI Constructor can: - Make AVI files from bitmap (*.BMP), JPEG (*.JPG), and TARGA (*.TGA) files. - Insert audio from a .wav file into the AVI. - Extract images from any AVI. etc. AVI Constructor can be ordered and a demonstration version downloaded from:

MainConcept's MainActor

MainConcept's MainActor can import sequences of BMP images and export them as an AVI video file. MainActor can import and export many other video and still image formats as well.

DeBabelizer Pro for Windows 95 and NT 4.0

Equilibrium's DeBabelizer Pro can read and write about 90 common and not so common image file formats. DeBabelizer Pro can also read and write AVI files. DeBabelizer Pro can read in sequences of image files in many formats and convert to an AVI file. Equilibrium has a demonstration version of DeBabelizer Pro on their Web site. This is a demonstration version. It adds the words Equilibrium to any images or movies that it processes. DeBabelizer Pro ($595 Suggested Retail Price) Equilibrium 475 Gate Five Road, Suite 225 Sausalito, CA 94965 1(800) 525-8651 or (415) 332-4343

Smacker Utilities

RAD Game Tools distributes free Smacker utilities at their Web site: The Graphics Processor can convert a sequence of bitmap images in several common bitmap image formats into an AVI file. NOTE: this AVI file uses an 8 bit color palette selected by the Smacker utilities for best picture quality. RAD Game Tools licenses a proprietary 8 bit video format called Smacker for use in video games. Their focus is on compression achieved through proper selection of an 8 bit color palette, rather than 24 bit color. Smacker is popular in the gaming industry. RAD Game Tools 850 South Main Street Salt Lake City, UT 84101 Voice: (801) 322-4300 FAX: (801) 359-6169

mkavi (PPM to AVI)

mkavi is a Unix utility with source code to convert sequences of Unix PPM (Portable Pixmap) files into AVI. As of 11/7/97, the documentation describes mkavi as alpha code. (March 6, 2002) At least two people have reported problems with using mkavi. One person reported that mkavi failed to add an index chunk at the end of the AVI file. The file plays fine with older versions of Windows Media Player and older video applications, but recent versions of Windows Media Player refuse to play the file at all. The other person was unable to use mkavi as it created garbled AVI files. Caveat User! Return to Top

How to convert QuickTime MOV files to AVI?

Power Macintosh:

The Video for Windows 1.1 Apple Macintosh Utilities from Microsoft is a collection of utilities and system extensions for the Macintosh that add support for Video for Windows file formats. One of the utilities is VfW Converter which converts QuickTime MooV files to AVI files playable on the PC. The Video for Windows 1.1 Apple Macintosh Utilities are available at: VfW Converter is more powerful than Intel's smartvid PC application. It can convert video formats. For example, VfW Converter can convert a raw uncompressed 24 bit QuickTime Movie to a raw uncompressed 24 bit AVI Movie (or do various compressions). Uncompressed QuickTime and uncompressed AVI files use different video formats. VfW Converter also converts audio from QuickTime audio to AVI audio. The Video for Windows 1.1 Apple Macintosh Utlities file is variously named: vfw11.sit video-for-windows-11p.hqx Apple's QuickTime Web site contains links to sources for Video for Windows (Macintosh) as well as other useful video utilities. Apple's QuickTime Web Site Video for Windows (Macintosh) has the virtue of being free, unlike: Adobe Premiere (Macintosh) ---reportedly can save QuickTime movies as AVI files.

On PC/Microsoft Windows:

TRMOOV.EXE (see below) can translate MOV to AVI, but I found problems playing back the AVI files on my 486 PC. It does not change the interleaving of the audio and video streams in the conversion from .MOV to .AVI. TRMOOV preserves the half-second interleave of QuickTime movies which is not appropriate for AVI. AVI wants each video frame interleaved with the audio for that frame. With the half-second interleave of QuickTime the audio will playback for a half-second while the video is frozen, followed by a half-second of video with no audio, repeated for the duration of the AVI playback. The interleave can be fixed using VidEdit. VidEdit contains algorithms to properly interleave the audio and video. Load the offending AVI file into VidEdit, Select File | Save As ... and give the file a new name. This triggers the interleave algorithm. VidEdit will reorganize the audio and video to interleave frames instead of half-seconds. Intel's SmartVid (see below) can convert .MOV to .AVI It appears to convert the audio video interleave from one format to another, something TRMOOV seems to have problems with. Adobe's Adobe Premiere 5.0 for Windows 95/NT can import and export Windows AVI and Apple QuickTime video files. Adobe Return to Top

Converting Autodesk Animation Files (FLI or FLC) to AVI


Use Microsoft's VidEdit editor. This editor can read FLI or FLC files. Then save the files as AVI files. Launch VidEdit. Select File | Open ... This brings up the Open Video File dialog box. Under List Files of Type, select Autodesk Animation from the pulldown list. Then, choose File | Save As ... VidEdit will save the file as an AVI file. Further information on VidEdit is available in the section on editing AVI files, including where to get VidEdit.


MainConcept's MainActor for Windows 95 and OS/2 Version 1.00 can load Autodesk Animator FLI and FLC files and save in AVI format. For further information on MainActor, a shareware program that converts many video and animation formats, see: or e-mail Return to Top

Converting MPEG to AVI

CONVMPG3/VIDEDIT (FREE) Use the CONVMPG3.ZIP package of MPEG and AVI utilities. CONVMPG3 is available for download at the Phade Software MPEG site: (1) Run DMPEG to convert MPEG-1 to a sequence of RAW still images. (2) Use RAWRIP to convert the sequence of RAW still images to a sequence of DIB's. (3) Use VidEdit to convert the sequence of DIB's to an AVI file. (or another video editor). VidEdit is not bundled with CONVMPG3, but is available elsewhere. Go to VidEdit Section The VidEdit section of the AVI Overview includes links to sites to download VidEdit. Ulead's MPEG Converter can convert MPEG-1 to AVI. Ulead is: Ulead 970 West 190th Street, Suite 20 Torrance, CA 90502 Voice: (800) 858-5323 FAX: (310) 523-9399 Return to Top

Converting Animated GIF (GIF89a) to AVI

MainConcept's MainActor for Windows can load animated GIF files (GIF89a) and then save these files as AVI files. MainActor is available in a shareware version or as a fully functional paid-for version. On the Web: By E-Mail:

GIF Movie Gear (Gamani Productions)

GIF Movie Gear from Gamani Productions can reportedly convert Animated GIF (GIF89a) to AVI and vice versa. On the web: Return to Top

How to Convert a Sequence of Still Images in One Format to a Sequence in Another Format

At this time, there are hundreds of different graphic file formats for still images, such as Windows BMP, Windows DIB, Targa, GIF, JPEG, Unix Portable Pixmap (PPM), and many others. In creating an AVI (or MPEG or MOV for that matter), some authoring programs may create a video as a sequence of still images in some graphic file format which is not supported by the graphic file sequence to AVI conversion utilities listed elsewhere in this Overview. Fortunately, there are freeware, shareware, and commercial programs which provide batch conversion of sequences of still images from one file format to sequences in another file format. For example, you might generate a sequence of Unix PPM format files with one utilitity and need to convert to a sequence of Windows BMP files.


PixWizard is a shareware Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 image viewer with image processing and conversion capabilities from PixVision (formerly Pixel Vision) Software. PixWizard reads and writes the following still image file formats: o BMP (Windows 3.x, OS/2 1.1, and OS/2 2.0) o Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) o Interchange Format File (IFF) - including HAM and SHAM modes o JPEG File Interchange Format (JFIF) o Kodak Photo CD (PCD) o Macintosh PICT (including PICT/JPEG) o MacPaint o PCX o Portable Pixmap (PPM/PGM/PBM) o Targa o Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) PixWizard has a batch conversion of a list of files to a specified format feature. Select Batch Conversion... from the File menu in PixWizard 1.07. A 30-day trial version of PixWizard is available at the PixVision Web site. WinJPEG is a shareware Windows 3.x utility from PixVision (formerly Pixel Vision). WinJPEG reads and writes most of the same file formats as PixWizard. It has a batch conversion feature. PixVision Software Home Page (PixWizard and WinJPEG): Paint Shop Pro is a shareware and commercial Windows utility from Jasc Software. Paint Shop Pro reads and writes most graphic file formats. It has a batch conversion feature. The shareware version of Paint Shop Pro has a thirty (30) day evaluation period. Jasc Software Paint Shop Pro Page:

Power Macintosh

GraphicConverter is a shareware Power Macintosh utility with very extensive support for graphic file formats and some video formats. It can read and write roughly a hundred different file formats including some pretty obscure formats. It has a batch conversion feature. GraphicConverter Web Site:


ImageMagickTM is a robust collection of tools and libraries to read, write, and manipulate an image in many image formats (over 68 major formats) including popular formats like TIFF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, Photo CD, and GIF. With ImageMagick you can create images dynamically, making it suitable for Web applications. You can also resize, rotate, sharpen, color reduce, or add special effects to an image and save your completed work in the same or differing image format. Image processing operations are available from the command line, as well as through C, C++, and PERL-based programming interfaces. ImageMagick reportedly supports batch conversion of bitmaps. ImageMagick compiles and runs on any version of Unix and Linux. The Portable Bitmap Utilities can easily be used for batch conversion through a script. PBMPLUS: Extended Portable Bitmap Toolkit by Jef Poskanzer A collection of utilities for converting to and from Jef Poskanzer's Portable Bitmap (PBM), Portable Greymap (PGM), and Portable Pixmap (PPM) file format. FREE and widely available on Unix systems. For example, to convert a GIF file to a TIFF file. 1. giftoppm myfile.gif 2. pnmtotiff myfile.ppm giftoppm is a utility program to convert GIF to PPM pnmtotiff is a utility program to convert PBM/PGM/PPM to TIFF The PBM utilities can be invoked from Unix scripts (Bourne Shell, Korn Shell, C Shell, Perl, etc.) for batch conversion of a sequence of bitmap images. PBMPLUS is available at a number of ftp sites such as: There are many files in this directory. PBMPLUS is: pbmplus10dec91.tar pbmplus10dec91.tar.Z John Bradley's xv (shareware) xv is a Unix X-Windows shareware utility for viewing, manipulating, and converting bitmap images on Unix X-Windows systems. xv supports many common bitmap image file formats. The xv Version 3.10a Manual states: "Since xv has absolutely no command-line or batch conversion abilities..." xv is available from a number of sites such as: Return to Top

How to Convert Real Media, Real Video, and Real Audio to AVI

There are some programs that can convert Real Media files such as .RM, .RAM, and .RA to AVI (Audio Video Interleave) files. These include: o Real Networks Real Producer ($199.95 list price, not confirmed) o TINRA Real Media to AVI Converter (free)

Real Producer

RealNetworks Real Producer reportedly can convert RealMedia files to AVI. RealProducer has a list price of $199.95 (Feb. 24, 2002) I have not confirmed that Real Producer can convert to AVI as reported. Real Producer is primarily marketed as a tool for converting other digital audio and video formats to Real Media.


TINRA is a free Real Media to AVI Converter for Microsoft Windows. Using Tinra GUI to Convert Real Media (RA, RM, RAM) to AVI 1. To convert Real Media video to AVI, you can use "Real Producer" or free "Tinra GUI" versuib 1.2. 2. Download a free software, "Tinra GUI", and RealPlayer 8.0 on your computer. To use Tinra GUI, three applications (tinragui.exe, tinra.exe, and realplayer) need to be located in the same folder on the same local drive unless you redefine the path of tinra.exe or the others. 3. After installing all those applications, choose tinragui.exe. When the tinra GUI v1.2 dialogue box shows up, browse a .RM file you want to convert to AVI. Then, it will automatically input an AVI file with the same file name in the same directory. 4. When you press the "Convert" button, TinraGUI will show you the conversion process as in the below picture. Return to Top
© 2000 by John F. McGowan, Ph.D. Disclaimer