Specifying What Video Codecs to use for Walkthroughs

Reference Number: KB-00076
Last Modified: September 21, 2015

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier or Chief Architect Interiors

Home Designer Professional or Home Designer Architectural or Home Designer Suite or Home Designer Interiors or Home Designer Essentials


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



A codec is a program that allows you to both record and play digital videos. The name “codec” is short for “coder-decoder”, which basically means that when a video is recorded, the codec will compress the individual images that make up the video into a single file.  Then, when the video is played, the codec decompresses the file and shows the individual images as a video stream.

It is not unusual to have multiple codecs installed on a given computer, and in Chief Architect you can specify which codec you want to use when recording a walkthrough.  Please note that in order to appear as an option in Chief Architect’s Preferences, it must support encoding.

If you are using the 64-bit version of Chief Architect, you may want to install the 32-bit version as well, because most video codecs only support 32-bit functionality.

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.

One codec that works well with Chief Architect is Xvid. Xvid is a MPEG-4 video codec for PC that works better for Chief avi files than the default codecs installed with Windows. Information about Xvid, including download instructions, can be found on Xvid's website https://www.xvid.com/

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


When sharing a video file you will need to make sure that the recipient can play 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, include a copy of the codec for your recipient to install.

There are a number of ways that you can share a video that you have created with others.  File sharing services such 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 videos to services like  YouTube or Vimeo which allows the recipient to watch them in their web browser.  It’s a good idea to become familiar with whatever service you choose to use before trying to share your files with clients.

Chief Architect, Inc. provides this information for information purposes only.  The third party information present in this document was verified at writing, however it is subject to change.

The information in this article is not intended to be an endorsement for the products or companies listed and listing these products and companies is for your information only, we will not provide any support for these products.

To change the video codec

  1. In Chief Architect select Edit> Preferences 

    On the Mac version, instead select Chief Architect> Preferences.from the menu.

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

  3. Under 'Codec Options' there is a drop-down menu of available codecs on the system.  Chose one from the drop down menu and click OK to close the Preferences dialog.

Missing codecs

If the software is unable to find the specified codec one of the following messages will appear:

  • Unable to find codec "%1%" for walkthrough recording.

  • Unable to find preferred codec. Please choose anothercodec in Preferences > Render. 

  • Unable to find preferred codec. Revert to defaultcodec?

If any of these errors appear it may be necessary to choose a different codec in Preferences.

To record a walkthrough file for playback

  1. Now in your plan, select 3D> Walkthroughs> Create Walkthrough Path .

  2. Draw a short walkthrough path in the building, then select it and click Record Walkthrough Along Path .

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

  4. Configure the Walkthrough Options dialog.

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

  5. Click OK to begin recording.