Best video codec for embedding into PowerPoint?
November 8, 2009 5:51 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to embed video clips in a PowerPoint presentation. It would need to play correctly on both Windows and OS X. What codec is ideal? My first attempt won't play on Macs.
posted by limon to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
I do this all the time with AVI's. Just make sure the AVI is in the same folder with the PPT, and copy both around together.
posted by maxpower at 5:59 PM on November 8, 2009

Response by poster: My first attempt was with AVI, but I guess I used a bad video codec because I got no love on Macs and audio only on other PCs. I think I used H.264.
posted by limon at 6:01 PM on November 8, 2009

This has been asked & answered before in a couple of different contexts - see previously. The answer is "MPEG-1, but MPEG-2 will probably work in most cases".
posted by Pinback at 6:38 PM on November 8, 2009

Oh, and .avi is a container format that can contain different codecs. Kinda like how beans, fish, tennis balls, and Tom Piper Braised Steak & Onions all come in tins.

There is no standard codec for video in an AVI container. Certainly no cross-platform one…
posted by Pinback at 6:46 PM on November 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Photo-jpeg and sorenson should be available and workable on both platforms. Probably others too, but those I have experience with. (Not in powerpoint though.)
posted by gmm at 11:33 PM on November 8, 2009

gmm: Photo-jpeg is a still format. Since the OP is asking about video, I assume you mean Motion JPEG? I think that's fine on OS X, but IIRC Win2k & XP at least both require a 3rd-party codec. I'm pretty sure Vista does as well. Last I looked, there weren't any freely available stand-alone MJPEG codecs, except those installed by 3rd-party software (e.g. camera software) or 'extracted' from commercial software (not exactly legal).

Likewise, Sorenson is only available on Windows by installing Quicktime. Additionally, it will only play (by default; I'm aware of certain tricks to make it otherwise) through QT, not through any of the other Windows media players (e.g. WMP) or frameworks (e.g. DirectShow) which PP may use.

H.264 is installed by default on recent Win & OS X versions, but the OP has already found problems with that (likely due to the multitude of different profiles available in the spec). XviD / DivX / Theora / 3gp / etc are theoretically cross platform, but all require 3rd-party codecs.

If the question is "what codecs are available for install on all platforms?", the answer is "almost all of them" - &, truthfully, I'd put MJPEG way down the bottom of the list in 'not bloody likely!' territory, and Sorenson just above it in the 'yeah, probably, but not not usefully' category.

If the question is "what codecs are available by default on all platforms", or "what codecs are almost guaranteed to work on all platforms", the answer is simply "MPEG-1". It's been available as part of the default install of Windows since Win95 (the Weezer video on the install CD was encoded in MPEG-1), and has been part of QT on Macs since at least OS X 10.1.x.

MPEG-2 is probable on Windows, but it's not installed by default on Win2k & XP except as bundled with 3rd-party DVD players & the like. It's also not bundled as standard on OS X except as restricted to the DVD player app, and requires either Quicktime Pro or a 3rd-party player (e.g. VLC) to play outside of that.

(So much for my previous attempt to give a short concise answer by referencing previous threads!)
posted by Pinback at 1:05 AM on November 9, 2009

Pinback, you seem to know more than me, so I'd think your advice is best, but actually photo-jpeg is a video codec. It is frequently used in live performance / VJing. I know it sounds like it is a still image thing from the name, but it isn't, it's an old, and surprisingly useful video codec, especially for presentations. I'm not sure how close it is related to Motion-jpeg.

But you could be right that it (like Sorenson) is installed by Quicktime or something else. I'm just used to this codec always being available no matter what/where/when, been using it on Windwos since 1999-2000, and it is often used in cross-platform (or platform independend) exchange of video when it isn't divx or the like. It is the one codec that has given me the least problems.

Sorry for creating a mess...
posted by gmm at 5:45 AM on November 9, 2009

MPEG-1 is universal - will work in WMP and QuickTime.

After that, things get fuzzy.
MPEG-2 works if osx + win have the necessary component.

DivX, Xvid (and many other pirating) AVI formats, require a download of a 'codec pack'

You need control of one side or the other.

If you can get QuickTime 7 on the PC, then h.264 (about 1-2mb/s) at 640x480 (full screen video, square pixels) will look really good.

On the Mac, if you can get Perian installed, QuickTime handles most of the Divx/Xvid/WMV stuff.

So take your pick: install QuickTime on the PC or perian on the mac.

Some other codec history:
Sorenson (and sorenson 3) are older QuickTime codecs; Apple abandoned these partially due to innovations and partially a fight with Sorenson.
Photo-jpeg was a decent I-frame codec, that apple used until h264 hit big.
Motion-Jpeg was used primarily by video editing tools (like Media 100) - but were devoted to hardware.

Most Codecs fall into one of 3 categories:
Acquisition (what your camera shoots - such as DV)
Editorial (specialized for post production - such as Apple's ProRes and Animation)
Distribution (WMV, h.264, MPEG1,2,4)
posted by filmgeek at 11:25 AM on November 9, 2009

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