It is not uncommon during a production to come across a file whose extension is unknown. For instance, during a meeting, everyone is talking about a .fla file but you don’t know what it means. And of course, you don’t want to ask because you are scared to look dumb…
In 2D, 30 years ago, everything was much more straightforward. We worked from sheets of paper, which were photocopied for the archives. The studios sent each other boxes by mail, and we stored the videos on VHSs. But now that everything is (almost) paperless, each step uses different software, and therefore different work files and export files. It also often happens that it is necessary to go through a specific type of file to build bridges between software. In the end you have to know a lot of different extensions to understand what people talk about.
That’s why we decided to make an exhaustive list of all the types of files you could see during a 2D production. Every time you will see a new file extension, you will know it!
.7z: A 7Z file is a compressed archive created by various file compression utilities, most notably, Igor Pavlov’s 7-Zip. It uses open-source LZMA compression, which has a high compression ratio and can include strong AES-256 (256-bit) encryption. 7Z files may contain multiple directories or files compressed to save space for storage or transportation purposes.
.aep: Adobe After Effect working file, It contains a video composition that includes audio, images, and video clips, a timeline, and various effects that can be applied to the movie. AEP files are used for creating professional-quality video productions.
.ai: Adobe Illustrator working file, a vector graphics editing program. It is composed of paths connected by points, rather than bitmap image data. AI files are commonly used for logos and print media.
.doc(x): text file, can be opened with Microsoft Word, Open Office, or Google Document. It may contain formatted text, images, tables, graphs, charts, page formatting, and print settings.
.edl: Edit Decision List File. Video editing file created by programs such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, and Apple Final Cut Pro stores an edit decision list (EDL). It specifies editing choices during production, includes the location of source video data and timecodes for when to use video. It allows the original project to be recreated in a separate editing system.
.fla: Adobe Animate working file, formerly Flash, a program used to draw and publish animations. It contains graphics, video, audio, and other assets. FLA files are often saved as SWF files. It’s mostly used for puppet animation. You will need a rig to use the puppet.
.jpg/jpeg: A JPG file is an image saved in a compressed image format standardized by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG). It is commonly used for storing digital photos and used by most digital cameras to save images. JPG files are among the most common image files along with PNG, TIF, and GIF.
.mov: A MOV file is a common multimedia container file format developed by Apple and compatible with both Macintosh and Windows platforms. It may contain multiple tracks that store different types of media data and is often used for saving movies and other video files. MOV files commonly use the MPEG-4 codec for compression. It’s a video file that can be used as an export for animation or editing but can also be used as a delivery file.
.mp3: An MP3 file is an audio file saved in a compressed audio format developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) that uses “Layer 3” audio compression. It is commonly used to store music and audiobooks with near-CD quality sound (stereo, 16-bit) and roughly 1/10 the size of a WAV or AIF file. It can be used for music placeholders on a montage
.mp4: An MP4 file is a multimedia file commonly used to store a movie or video clip, but may also contain subtitles or images. MP4 is short for MPEG-4 Part 14, which is a container format based on the QuickTime File Format (QTFF) used by MOV and QT files. It serves as a preview for an animation scene, or a montage for example.
.pdf: file for viewing a drawing or text. A PDF file is a multi-platform document created by Adobe Acrobat or another PDF application. The PDF format is commonly used for saving documents and publications in a standard format that can be viewed on multiple platforms. In many cases, PDF files are created from existing documents instead of from scratch.
.png: A PNG file is an image file stored in the Portable Network Graphic (PNG) format. It contains a bitmap of indexed colors and uses lossless compression, similar to a GIF file but without copyright limitations. PNG files are commonly used to store graphics for web images. It’s often used to export animation scenes, and each png file corresponds to an animation frame
.prproj: Adobe Premiere working file. It contains a timeline that is comprised of video and audio clips and includes transitions, special effects, and other applied edits. PRPROJ also files store project settings such as the settings for transitions, the video renderer, audio and video display format, and the capture format.
.psd: Adobe Photoshop working file. It is the native format used to save files in Photoshop. PSD files may include image layers, adjustment layers, layer masks, annotations, file information, keywords, and other Photoshop-specific elements
.rar: compression file. It uses a higher compression ratio than typical ZIP compression and incorporates a proprietary compression algorithm that is now used by other compressors, including 7-Zip for its .7Z files. RAR files may be extracted using a variety of programs.
.sbpz: ToonBoom Storyboard Pro archive file. This file is the set of working files to make this storyboard
.sbdkp: ToonBoom Storyboard Pro working file. It’s the main software used in the industry to create Storyboard. You can also edit the animatic within. It can store picture, drawing, sound (voices and music).
.swf: Adobe Animate video file, formerly Flash, that can be played by Flash Player. It may contain vector and raster graphics.
.tga: A TGA file is a file saved in the raster graphic format designed by Truevision. It supports 8, 16, 24, or 32 bits per pixel at a maximum of 24 bits for RGB colors and 8-bit alpha channel. TGA files are used for various types of images, such as digital photos and textures referenced by 3D video games. Each TGA file corresponds to an animation frame
.tvpp: TVpaint working file, animation software which is the closest to tradition animation. It doesn’t use puppet and rig to animate.
.wav: A WAV file is an audio file that uses a standard digital audio file format utilized for storing waveform data. It allows audio recordings to be saved with different sampling rates and bitrates. And it is often saved in a 44.1 kHz, 16-bit, stereo format, which is the standard format used for CD audio. It’s mainly used for the voices as it’s uncompressed.
.wmv: is a video file based on the Microsoft Advanced Systems Format (ASF) container format and compressed with Windows Media compression. It contains video encoded with one of Microsoft’s Windows Media Video (WMV) proprietary codecs. It’s a video file that can be used to export an animation or a montage.
.xls: spreadsheet file can be opened with Microsoft Excel, Open Office tor Google Spreadsheet. It contains one or more worksheets, which store and display data in a table format. XLS files may also store mathematical functions, charts, styles, and formatting.
.xml: Extensible Markup Language) data file. It is formatted much like an HTML document but uses custom tags to define objects and the data within each object. XML files can be thought of as a text-based database.But most of the time it’s a file from editing software. This file is used to indicate the list of shots and their entry and exit points in the assembly.
.xstage /.table: Toonboom harmony working file. A program used to draw and publish animations. It contains graphics, video, audio, and other assets. It’s mostly used for puppet animation. You will need a rig to use the puppet.
.zip: compression file, it stores files separately from each other, allowing the files to be compressed using different methods and extracted without compressing or decompressing the entire archive.
That’s it! Now extensions won’t have any secrets for you! You will be able to understand all conversations and tackle problems effectively.
Feel free to let us a comment if you thing that a definition is wrong or that an extension is missing!
We dedicated this blog to CG Production Management and CG Pipeline. Additionally, We propose a Slack channel where you can discuss your problems/solutions and learn from others. We are already 270 to share tips and ideas. Join us, TDs and Production Managers from all over the world will be super happy to welcome you!