Smacker Video Technology

Smacker Video Technology

Smacker is our previous generation codec. It was been licensed for over 2,500 games since 1994. In almost all cases, Bink will be a better fit for modern games. However, we still license Smacker for legacy games and for extremely CPU limited environments.

Smacker is very different than most video codecs. It is an 256-color (8-bit) codec - it uses a palette (or a series of palettes) for the video frames. This is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. 256-color data makes it super fast, but also hurts the color quality (even before any compression takes places).

At one time, games themselves were also 256-color. This made integrating Smacker much, much easier than other codecs, since Smacker was using the same techniques and modes that the game did. Also, in 256-color mode, Smacker looked better than true-color codecs since it used a palette that was custom designed for that video. True-color codecs used a fixed palette and dithering to run in 256-color mode, which hurt their overall quality.

However now-a-days, pretty much all games and game hardware run in full color mode, so much of Smacker's advantage has disappeared. Smacker is still used commonly in educational games and simple sprite games where its speed makes it advantageous. A Smacker movie at 640x480 barely takes 3% of a modern CPU to decode - MP3s can take more CPU to decode than a Smacker movie needs!

The Smacker compressor is built into the RAD Video Tools, so you can try it if you have a situation that you think it may be appropriate for. You can Email us to get an evaluation SDK. Finally, you can also check out the Smacker version history, if you are looking for something specific.


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  • 9/28/22