AVI File Format and its Advantages and Disadvantages

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AVI stands for Audio Video Interleaved. AVI is a video and audio file format used to store audio and/or video information digitally for playback purposes. AVI format enjoys built-in support in all the Microsoft’s Windows platform. AVI files have file extension .avi. Apart from Windows OS, AVI format is supported by all the major platforms. AVI works as a container to hold videos and audios created and compressed using several codecs like DivX and XviD. In this article, we have analyzed the pros and cons of AVI file format along with a small introduction to its history, structure, and conversion.

History of AVI Format

AVI file format was created by Microsoft in November 1992 with the intent of providing an advanced and robust audio and video file format for the Windows operating system. Microsoft used AVI as the file container for a new framework that added digital video playback to its OS. The company released AVI as an add-on for Windows 3.1. Within four years, Maxtor OpenDML group developed a new file format extension for AVI (AVI 2.0).

AVI video file format became swept up in the rise of the Internet, allowing individuals to share video files. Today, AVI file format remains one of the most popular among different video formats. Both amateurs and professionals alike rely on it for video production.

In addition to using an AVI file format player like Windows Media Player, you can use some Web-based services, such as Google Drive, to play AVI files stored on the servers. This further encourages cloud-based media storage.

AVI Structure

AVI file format structure is based on the Resource Interchange File Format (RIFF). This file format allocates all the information in a particular file into blocks or “chunks”. Each chunk can be tagged as AVI. The AVI file itself then is divided into parts.

The structure of AVI files is very simple. These files consist of at least two mandatory parts; a header followed by chunks of information. The header contains metadata of the file, such as the file size, frame rates and similar characteristics, whereas chunks store actual audio and video information. The header is identified with the “hdrl” tag, while the audio/visual information is identified with the “movi” tag. Different codecs associated with different compression schemes can encode or decode “movi” information.

Files using AVI format sometimes have a third optional component. This third part indexes offsets. It is identified with the “idx1” tag.

Converting AVI

Some media viewers will let you save AVI files in a different format. But in most cases, you have to use a designated file converter to switch to other types of video formats. Many converters are free, and some are based online. Generally, you simply select or upload the AVI file, select the desired file format, and then start the conversion by clicking “OK”, “Convert” or something similar. If not working online, you normally choose where to save the converted file before converting. If working online, you choose the save location when you download the converted file.

Advantages

Let us look into some of the advantages which AVI file format has over other formats.

  • There are lots of codecs currently available that can be used to achieve desired compression ratio of AVI audio format. Examples include DivX and XviD.
  • AVI video format has exceptionally high quality audio fidelity.
  • In order to make it compatible with the DV standard, DV-AVI standard can be compressed unlike other audio/video formats.
  • AVI file format is developed by Windows, which makes it playable with all the major Microsoft and non-Microsoft operating systems.
  • Playable DVDs and disks can be created by using AVI file format in order to store initial audio/video information.
  • AVI file format does not require any particular hardware device of software application for the file to run. This automatically improves the number of individuals that can open AVI format files.
  • AVI file format is the most widely used video format for promos, short movies and advertisements owing to its compression capabilities. People are familiar with the format, recognize it and know how to work with it.
  • The quality maintained with AVI is excellent for master files. You can lean on these master files to create files in other formats that meet a variety of sharing needs.

Disadvantages

  • If AVI files are compressed using some codecs, then in order to retrieve and play the file, the same codec must be installed on the machine. While installing  a codec is a relatively simple process, many individuals can be frustrated trying to find the codec from a safe, reliable source. Even when those sources are available, users can find the interruption in the experience unsatisfactory.
  • AVI files, if uncompressed, can be very large in size as compared to the other file formats. You must be willing to trade disc space for the benefits of the AVI file and will not be able to store as many files.
  • AVI files, if compressed beyond certain limits, result in the loss of video quality. Given that modern viewers now are using screens capable of HD, Ultra HD and 4K, the tolerance for this loss of video quality might be decreasing.
  • The huge number of codecs available means that, even though good compression is possible, you have to experiment to get the quality and compression you need.
  • AVI doesn’t support user interactivity (e.g., click to continue pauses).
  • AVI isn’t reliable for supporting softsubs. This is a type of subtitling where the playback device must combine the subtitle and video content as the media plays.

Conclusion

AVI is one of the most well-known audio-video formats. Still the best quality video format in many situations, AVI video format is holding its own compared to more modern video file formats. It is still widely supported and deserves consideration from any serious audio-video user or creator.

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