Which File Format is Best for 2d Animation?

Many claim that 2D animation is a thing of yesterday. But a trained eye knows that in this world of 3D animation, 2D still has a stronghold and is used very often. Hence, if you are planning to learn this form of animation, you must know what files support it the best. And in this article, we provide a comprehensive list of which file format is best for 2D animation.

Which file format is best for 2D animation

Many file formats are available out there that support 2D animation. And the most commonly used formats to generate 2D animations are:

  • MP4 (MPEG-4 PART 14)
  • AVI (Audio Video Interleave)
  • MOV (QuickTime File Format)
  • GIF (Graphical Interchange Format)

These are some of the most commonly used file formats by designers for 2D animation. But before we get into why they are the best and which is the most popular, we need to understand a little basic about 2D animation. 

What is 2D animation? Where is it used?

2D Animation or 2-Dimensional Animation is an illusion of movement created using sequenced frames of individual drawings strung together over time.

In simple words, 2D animation is the combination of different images of different heights and widths put together. All these images have different actions performed by the characters; hence when they change the frame, it appears as if the characters are doing several activities like talking, walking, dancing, and so on.

Traditionally all of these things were supposed to be done manually. However, now there is a computer-generated visual effect that saves a lot of time for the developers.

2D animation is quite popular nowadays and can be seen on various platforms. Most commonly, they are used for creating:

1.     Product commercials 

2.     Education films

3.     Feature films

4.     Music videos

5.     Web animation

6.     Video games

7.     Mobile phone images

You can see that we are surrounded by 2D animation. And despite many pundits and critics claiming that 3D animation will kill the former version of it, there is no evidence of the same. 

2D animation still has a stronghold in the market and is not going anywhere. Instead, it is finding its way into different mediums and entertainment. So, there should be no debate about the validity of 2D animation in today’s time. 

This brings us to the final part of our article: which file format is best for 2D animation?

What are MP4, AVI, MOV, and GIF? Which is the best format for 2D Animation?

As mentioned earlier, there are four formats in which 2D animation files can be saved. But the prominent of that is MP4 format. Hence, we will begin with that one.


MPEG-4 Part 14, or MP4 as we know, is currently the most popular file format for a video. Said to be inspired by the MOV format or Quicktime File Format, MP4 has become a widely accepted video format.

The biggest reason behind its popularity is its acceptance and seamless functioning across various platforms. An MP4 file can be played on any device, medium, and operating system. 

Although nothing is flawless, hence MP4 also has its own drawback. It can sometimes have a codec compatibility issue causing the video and audio to go out of sync. But apart from that, it’s the best format in which you can produce your 2D world of art.


Audio Video Interleave is the second most popular format for videos after MP4. Developed by Microsoft in 1992, it still remains a very suitable format across all computer operating systems, including Microsoft Windows and Macintosh. 

The AVI format is best suited for creating master files, given that this file extension can maintain excellent quality over a long period. 

One of the biggest setbacks of AVIs is that they are quite large files in uncompressed form and take up a lot of disk space. And compressing them sometimes results in a deterioration in the quality of the file.


Quicktime file format or most commonly known as MOV is a media file extension that was developed by Apple solely to be used in Apple QuickTime player, hence the name. 

It shares some stark resemblance to MP4 in quality because of being encoded with the MPEG-4 codec. However, the MOV format is renowned for its simplicity, which allows even new users to edit their videos to high standards.

One of the setbacks of this format is that it is a native Apple product. Hence it doesn’t have compatibility across different operating systems. Furthermore, it, too, has relatively large files, just like the AVI, making it hard to store them.


Graphic Interchange Format is another popular medium in which you can create your 2D animation videos. Recently this format has been used widely by marketers all around the world to run different promotion campaigns. And most of them have turned out to be a hit owing to the interactive output of GIFs.

As popular as it might have become recently, GIF has some disadvantages too. For starters, it has a larger file size when compared to an efficiently encoded MP4 video. A GIF will consume more bandwidth and load at a slower rate, eventually hampering user experience.


After carefully examining the frontrunners on this list, we have found the answer to our initial question of which file format is best for 2D animation. We can conclude that MP4 is the best file extension to support your 2D animation video in the long run.


What is the difference between 2D and 3D animation?

2D animation’s characters and objects comprise only width and Height. While 3D has depth along with width and height, which makes it more realistic.

Is 2D animation harder than 3D?

Both these types of animations have different methods and modes. 2D is more relied on pen and paper, while 3D has computer-generated models of all characters, props, and sets.