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Specifying What Video Codecs to use for Walkthroughs

Reference Number: KB-00076 Last Updated: 10-10-2013 01:21 PM

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors or Chief Architect Lite


QUESTION


What are video codecs, and how do I use them to create walkthroughs in Chief Architect?

 

ANSWER


Codecs are a set of instructions that describe how to compress or uncompress a video stream. A video stream is a set of images that is usually packaged into a container file such as AVI, MP4, or WMV.

Digital video codecs are found in a variety of systems with video recording or playing capability. Online videos are encoded by a variety of codecs as well. 

In Chief Architect, you have the ability to choose from a list of currently installed video codecs to be used while recording a walkthrough. These codecs must be installed on your system and must support encoding before they will appear as an option in Chief Architect's Preferences.

Most video codecs only support 32-Bit functionality so it may be useful to determine what type of operating system you are currently running. Please see the Related Articles section below.

Lastly, if you are running the 64-Bit version of Chief Architect then you may want to install the 32-Bit as well because some of the codecs mentioned in this article are only available in 32-Bit versions.

 

 

 

Finding additional video codecs

Finding additional video codecs can be difficult unless you know the publisher of the codec. Information about the many codecs being published can be found on sites such as Wikipedia, Codecs.com, Codec Guide, or the site of the ­video codec owner/publisher.

Many codecs are published and copyrighted by software developers who develop video editing software. This means that these copyrighted codecs are only available for people who have purchased their software and the codec is installed along side the software.  However there are also many free codecs, referred to as open source or patent free codecs, some of which will be covered in this article.

Warning: It is always best to research any codec you wish to install to find who published it and how to obtain it. Many sites may offer a download for a codec that contains additional unwanted or malicious software. Only download a codec from sources that are verified or approved by the codec's developer or publisher. 





Best practices when sharing a video


Playback

When sharing a video file you will need to make sure that the recipient can playback the video. This generally requires that their system have the same video codec installed that was used to encode/compress the video file. To ensure this, including a copy of the codec for your recipient to install if needed is a good way to ensure that they can view it.

Sending/Receiving
When preparing to send a file to someone it is always best to determine a simple strategy to ensure that the file can be shared smoothly, whether it is large or small. Becoming familiar with file sharing services such as Dropbox, Microsoft Skydrive, or Google Drive, can be a good way to provide a fast and effective way of delivering a file. You can also upload video files to services such as YouTube or Vimeo and provide a link to the video, allowing the recipient to watch it in their web browser.



To record a walkthrough file for playback on a computer

In this section, we used the Xvid codec to demonstrate how to change the default codec in Chief Architect's Preferences and then record a quick walkthrough file. 

In this example we will be using the 64-Bit version of Chief Architect but if you only have the 32-Bit version you can still use the Xvid codec as it supports both 32-Bit and 64-Bit operating systems.

  1. Start by going to the Xvid website (http://www.xvid.org/) and downloading the appropriate codec for your system type.


  2. In Chief Architect select Edit> Preferences .


  3. In the list of categories on the left panel, find and click Render panel.

    • Here you will find a drop-down menu that contains a list of currently installed video codecs.


  4. If you installed the Xvid codec from the link above, then you should see it here. Select it and click OK to close the Preferences  dialog. 




  5. Click Build> Wall> Straight Exterior Wall  and draw a 10'x40' structure.




  6. Now click 3D> Walkthroughs> Create Walkthrough Path .


  7. Draw the walkthrough path the length of the building.

     


  8. Select the walkthrough path and click Record Walkthrough Along Path .


  9. Choose a location to save the resulting AVI file and click Save.




  10. Configure the Walkthrough Options dialog.



    • Set Frames per second to 25.
    • Set Duration along path to 15.
    • Set Compression to 0%.


  11. Click OK to begin recording.



The file size of our sample is roughly 2.33MB which is small enough to share via email or an online service.  This is due to Xvid's compression method. While the compression level is high there was some loss of quality, which is referred to as Lossy Compression.


There may be cases when you want to use a lossless compression method to retain as much quality as possible but you can expect the file size to be larger.  While Xvid does not support lossless compression, some other codecs do, you will need to find one and install it to compress a video using a lossless compression method.


To record a walkthrough file for playback in a webpage

In this example you will create the same walk through but this time, we used the VP8 codec.

Note: The VP8 codec only supports 32-bit systems so you may want to install the 32-bit version of Chief Architect in order to use this codec.

 

  1. Open Chief Architect and click Edit> Preferences .


  2. On the Render panel, change the codec to VP80 and click OK.



  3. Now select the walkthrough path created earlier and click Record Walkthrough Along Path .


  4. Choose a name for the file and click Save.




  5. Configure the Walkthrough Options dialog.



    • Set Frames per second to 25.
    • Set Duration along path to 15.
    • Set Compression to 0%.


  6. Click OK to start the recording. 

 
At 985KB, the resulting video is significantly smaller.