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Posted 2 Oct 2001

A class to easily generate AVI video with OpenGL and Video for Windows

, 26 Oct 2002
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If you want to generate an AVI video from your OpenGL application, this is the class you need.

Sample Image - AviGenerator.jpg


CAviGenerator is a simple wrapper for the Video For Windows (VFW) library. In the back, it takes care of a numerous initialization for you and hides the library function calls so that the user can start generating movies in a minimal number of line of code and without having much knowledge about VFW.

The class main features are:

  • generation of AVI movies with any codec installed on your machine
  • no need of generating thousands of separate images,
  • simplicity of use

The class CAVIGenerator takes it's inspiration from MSDN example writeavi.c.

CAVIGenerator: A AVI Video wrapper

A simple class that make creation of AVI video easy.


Each object contains general characteristics of the movie such as

  • the file name,
  • the frame rate, (fps)
  • the image description: BITMAPINFOHEADER
These members are declared as protected and are accessible by Set methods.

It contains also private members that are used to handle the "Video for Windows" AVI engine.



Default constructor, default file name is "Untitled.avi", frame rate is 30 fps.

CAVIGenerator(LPCTSTR sFileName, CView* pView, DWORD dwRate);

In-place constructor with CView. See SetBitmapHeader(CView* pView).


In-place constructor with BITMAPINFOHEADER. See SetBitmapHeader(LPBITMAPINFOHEADER lpbih)

Setters and Getters

void SetFileName(const CString& _sFileName)

SetFileName sets the name of the output file. The filename extension should be .avi otherwize the creation of the AVI won't work. Checking of .avi extension is left to the user.

void SetRate(DWORD dwRate)

SetRate sets the frame rate (fps).

void SetBitmapHeader(CView* pView);

SetBitmapHeader fills in the information about the bitmap in m_bih using using from the view the view pView the width, height, 24 bit/color, and BRG. It makes sure that the width and height are both multiple of 4.

void SetBitmapHeader(LPBITMAPINFOHEADER lpbih);

SetBitmapHeader sets the bitmap info as in lpbih. It supposes that the user knows what he's doing.


GetBitmapHeader returns a pointer to bitmap info header structure.

AVI creation Functions

HRESULT InitEngine();

InitEngine initializes the VFW engine and chooses a codec. This function has to be called before starting to grab frames. Some asserts are made to check that bitmap info has been properly initialized. It returns the last HRESULT. If something fails, the error message can be retreived using GetLastErrorMessage().

CAviGenerator avi;

if (FAILED(hr))
HRESULT AddFrame(BYTE* bmBits);

AddFrame adds a frame to the movie. The data pointed by bmBits should be compatible with the bitmap description made by SetBitmapHeader. Typically with OpenGL, bmBits is the buffer read when using glReadPixels. As for InitEnginge, it returns the HRESULT.

void ReleaseEngine();

ReleaseEngine releases ressources allocated for movie and close the file.

Using CAVIGenerator

You have to follow these steps:

  1. Set the file name (optional), frame rate (optional) and bitmap info (required). If you want to grab an OpenGL screen, just send a pointer of the CView object to the SetBitmapHeader function. Alternative, the user can fill in the BITMAPINFOHEADER structure himself. Make sure that dimension of bitmap are a multiple of 4.
  2. Initialize the AVI engine calling InitEngine. A dialog box will popup to choose and fill in the parameters of the codec.
  3. For each frame: Do the drawing stuff, fill the image buffer with BRG ordering and send it to the AVI engine using AddFrame.
  4. Release ressources and close file by calling ReleaseEngine.

And you're are done! Here's some demo pseudo-code:

CAVIGenerator AviGen;	// generator
BYTE* bmBits;	// image buffer

AviGen.SetRate(20);	// set 20fps
AviGen.SetBitmapHeader(GetActiveView());	// get bitmap info out of the view
hr=AviGen.InitEngine()	// start engine
if (FAILED(hr))
    goto Cleaning;

LPBITMAPINFOHEADER lpbih=AviGen.GetBitmapInfo(); // getting bitmap info

// allocating memory for bmBits
bmBits=new BYTE[3 /* BRG*/ * lpbih->biWidth* lpbih->biHeight];	
for (int i=0;i<100;i++)	// make 100 frames
	// TODO pust your draw code here.	
	 /* Draw code where bmBits is filled. 
	 For example, to read OpenGL buffer, put 
                       GL_BGR_EXT,GL_UNSIGNED_BYTE,bmBits); */ 

	// adding frame and continue if OK
	if (FAILED(hr))
	    goto Cleaning;
// cleaning memory	
AviGen.ReleaseEngine(); // releasing ressources
delete[] bmBits;	// release ressources

Adding CAVIGenerator to your project

  1. Add AVIGenerator.h and AVIGenerator.cpp to your project.

Non-MFC Applications

If you want to use CAviGenerator without MFC, undefine _AVIGENERATOR_MFC in AviGenerator.h. It will disable MFC function calls.

Demo project

A simple MFC SDI application that shows a cube and triangle rotating using OpenGL. When selecting the menu item Avi Generation->Generate..., you start to create a 100 frames AVI movie.

OpenGL drawing code is copy-pasted from lesson 5 of NeHe Productions.

Update History

  • 21.10.2002 Ported to non-MFC application, added HRESULT handling
  • 11.8.2001 Other bug fixed. Thanks to Dick W Augustsson.
  • 11.2.2001 Bug fixed in setting bitmap header biSizeImage field. Thanks to David.
  • 10.8.2001 Bug fixed in ~CAviGenerator and in example above (LPBITMAPINFOHEADER lpbih not initialized).
  • 10.5.2001 Bug fixed in CAVIGenerator::SetBitmapHeader(LPBITMAPINFOHEADER lpbih) function. Thanks to Lori Gardi.


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


About the Author

Jonathan de Halleux
United States United States
Jonathan de Halleux is Civil Engineer in Applied Mathematics. He finished his PhD in 2004 in the rainy country of Belgium. After 2 years in the Common Language Runtime (i.e. .net), he is now working at Microsoft Research on Pex (

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Comments and Discussions

QuestionExcellent article! However I need some extra .... Pin
pani6828-Dec-13 21:46
memberpani6828-Dec-13 21:46 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Manmohan2929-Aug-12 5:50
memberManmohan2929-Aug-12 5:50 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
bwrtjhp27-Jul-10 17:27
memberbwrtjhp27-Jul-10 17:27 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Nickolas10119-Jul-10 17:16
memberNickolas10119-Jul-10 17:16 
Darvox3-Dec-08 2:08
memberDarvox3-Dec-08 2:08 
GeneralThanks Pin
Nathan Cramp28-Sep-08 1:35
memberNathan Cramp28-Sep-08 1:35 
QuestionHow to make it work for DivX6.6.1 Codec ? Pin
Skywalker200824-May-07 7:51
memberSkywalker200824-May-07 7:51 
Questioncan i use avigenerator in my opengl program? Pin
leekeng82@hotmail.com24-Apr-06 22:25
memberleekeng82@hotmail.com24-Apr-06 22:25 
Generalwhat's the differences between AVICOMPRESSOPTIONS and COMPVARS Pin
sthugo13-Oct-05 16:53
membersthugo13-Oct-05 16:53 
GeneralWorking with Dev-C++ Pin
benthurston30-Sep-05 12:09
memberbenthurston30-Sep-05 12:09 
Any ideas about getting this to work with Dev-C++ 4.9.9? It doesn't come with the comdef.h file and the one I downloaded to use compiles with a million errors.
GeneralTerrain engine recording Pin
Nishant2724-Jul-05 4:28
memberNishant2724-Jul-05 4:28 
GeneralRe: Terrain engine recording Pin
Vertexwahn17-Apr-06 13:39
memberVertexwahn17-Apr-06 13:39 
Generalusing AviGenerator with GLUT Pin
salva230-May-05 12:10
membersalva230-May-05 12:10 
GeneralRe: using AviGenerator with GLUT Pin
seboeh8-Jun-05 5:07
sussseboeh8-Jun-05 5:07 
GeneralIts real COOL!!! Pin
arm2arm29-Mar-05 0:26
memberarm2arm29-Mar-05 0:26 
GeneralGuidance Pin
Chivalrous13-Apr-04 20:23
memberChivalrous13-Apr-04 20:23 
GeneralRe: Guidance Pin
Jonathan de Halleux15-Apr-04 23:27
memberJonathan de Halleux15-Apr-04 23:27 
Generalurgent: Generating AVI in C# using VFW Pin
ch3ckmat322-Mar-04 0:54
memberch3ckmat322-Mar-04 0:54 
GeneralRe: urgent: Generating AVI in C# using VFW Pin
cadessi3-Jun-04 0:29
susscadessi3-Jun-04 0:29 
QuestionHow to add a sound to AVI stream? Pin
Hanney Wang15-Feb-04 16:32
memberHanney Wang15-Feb-04 16:32 
AnswerRe: How to add a sound to AVI stream? Pin
eatitanddie20-Sep-07 11:17
membereatitanddie20-Sep-07 11:17 
Questionhow to use one copression manually? Pin
philmus2522-Jan-04 9:30
memberphilmus2522-Jan-04 9:30 
AnswerRe: how to use one copression manually? Pin
Jonathan de Halleux25-Jan-04 9:24
memberJonathan de Halleux25-Jan-04 9:24 
GeneralRe: how to use one copression manually? Pin
Brandybuck27-Aug-04 4:42
memberBrandybuck27-Aug-04 4:42 
GeneralMSVC 6 Pin
mansour_ahmadian8-Jan-04 4:54
membermansour_ahmadian8-Jan-04 4:54 

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