Microsoft introduced the Audio Video Interleave or AVI multimedia container format in November 1992 as a standard for its Windows operating system and as a solution for storing and playing lossless and compressed audio-video files on personal computers and storage media. It has since become one of the more popular formats for compressing video files while competing against other formats such as Windows Media Video, MPEG-4 Part 14 or MP4, the QuickTime File Format, and Matroska Multimedia Container or MKV.
Pros: Advantages of Audio Video Interleave
The reputation of AVI as one of the most popular multimedia container formats is an offshoot of the dominance of Windows. Furthermore, because storage mediums such as hard disk drives and compact discs had limited storage spaces before, the format has become an ideal option for storing and distributing high-quality video data.
Below are the specific advantages of AVI:
• Wide Compatibility: This format is supported by a variety of operating systems including Windows, mac, and Linux. It can also be played on different media player applications. These advantages make it a versatile and compatible format for storing and playing audio-video data on personal computer systems.
• Codec Flexibility: Another advantage of AVI is that it can be produced using different audio and video codecs. This characteristic expands further its compatibility and makes it an ideal container format for different use cases such as for personal consumption or storage of audio and video data.
• High-Quality Video: This format also supports containing high-quality video data because it can be compressed in either SD resolution or 720P to 1080P HD resolution. This is the reason it became one of the go-to standards for creating and rendering video content and distributing high-definition videos.
• Long-Form and Lossless: AVI supports large file sizes while also compressing large video data and containing them in a smaller file size. This makes it suitable for long-form video content. It also supports lossless compression for storing or archiving raw video data and for video editing applications.
• Multiple Audio Track: Remember that this format is a multimedia container format. A single file can contain multiple audio tracks to allow multiple language support, contain other audio-based effects, flexible audio selection such as in the case of audio narration or video commentary, and selective audio preferences.
• Simple Structure: An AVI file has a simple structure. It consists of at least two mandatory parts: a header and chunks of information. This solves the problem of audio and video synchronization. The structure can be easily edited as well to make AVI a suitable format for post-production or video editing works.
Cons: Disadvantages of Audio Video Interleave
However, despite the aforesaid advantages of AVI, other container and video formats have emerged and challenged its dominance. The format has notable drawbacks. For example, with regard to online distribution, MP4 and QuickTime File Format are preferred due to their smaller file size albeit high-quality video data.
Below are the specific disadvantages of AVI:
• Large File Sizes: Remember that this container format can produce high-quality audio-video files at smaller file sizes. But this is relative. Files based on containers such as MP4 and Matroska or formats such as QuickTime File Format are ideal for online distribution because they have 70 to 90 percent smaller file sizes.
• Compatibility Issues: It is also important to note that an AVI file is not universal. Its playability depends on the types of codecs used in the compression of its audio and video data. A particular file can still experience compatibility issues if required codecs are not supported in a particular platform and media player application.
• Unideal for Online: The relatively large file sizes of files based on Audio Video Interleave makes them unideal for online distribution. A one-hour video can take up to 20GB to 33GB of storage space. This is not suitable for downloading or online streaming due to limitations in storage and internet speed.
• Lacks Metadata: Another disadvantage of AVI is that it has poor metadata support. A single file can contain video data and multiple audio tracks. However, unlike MP4 and QuickTime, the same file cannot contain metadata such as author or producer information, subtitles, and user interface or user interaction.
• Compression Issues: Encoding a video file in this format would render it unsuitable for compressing with techniques requiring future frames data beyond the encoded B-frame. Using files produced with a variable bitrate like MP3 audio or AAC format would be problematic at sample rates below 32 kHz.