The FLI file format is an animation format created by Autodesk for use with its animation software. FLI stands for FLIC animation and was widely used during the late 1980s and early 1990s, especially in computer games and software presentations. The format was designed to handle large animations efficiently at a time when computer resources were limited. FLI files are characterized by their ability to compress animation frames by storing only the changes from one frame to the next, optimizing storage space and allowing smoother playback on the hardware of that era.
How FLI File Type Works
FLI animations consist of a series of frames that depict sequential stages of movement or transformation. The technology behind the FLI format is RLE (run-length encoding), a form of lossless data compression. This technique reduces file sizes without compromising on visual quality by designating consecutive sequences of data with a single value and count. As a result, FLI files can efficiently compress animations with large sections of uniform color, which was common in early computer graphics.
Modern software rarely uses the FLI format due to advancements in technology and the emergence of superior file types. However, legacy software and certain animation players can still open FLI files. This includes classic Autodesk Animator software, and some third-party multimedia players have maintained compatibility with FLI files through updates and plugins.
Alternatives to the FLI File Type
As multimedia technology evolved, so too did animation file formats. Formats such as GIF, MPEG, and Flash overtook FLI due to their wide support across platforms and improved compression algorithms. The GIF format became particularly popular for short animations on the web thanks to its wide compatibility and ease of use. Meanwhile, video formats like MPEG offered higher quality and greater compression suited for full-length movies and video clips. Although FLI served a significant role during its time, modern formats provide greater flexibility, efficiency, and are more widely supported by current software and devices.