Explain this maddening QuickTime glitch
March 15, 2013 12:49 PM   Subscribe

I have 14 mp4 files, all downloaded from the same FTP site at the same time. 6 of them don't work in QuickTime, 8 of them do. It is not the files themselves, it's something to do with those files PLUS my system. Help me figure out what, please, because I am not that tech-savvy, and because I'm on a deadline.

What I know:

-Using QuickTime 7.6.4

-On Mac OSX 10.5.8.

-My two coworkers are also using (probably newer) macs.

-All three of us have the same files, downloaded from the same place, at the same time.

-I'm the only one having issues. The issues are as follows:

In 6 of the files, the title screen appears, freezes, and remains frozen. Audio continues normally.
In 8 of the files, everything is fine.

-All 14 files open and play correctly in DivX.

Fixes I've tried, which have failed:
-deleting and re-downloading the files
-restarting QuickTime
-reinstalling QuickTime
-Restarting computer

So what could cause an mp4 file to fail in QuickTime but work in DivX, while other seemingly-identical files work just fine in both?
posted by like_a_friend to Technology (7 answers total)
Codec problem in Quicktime? Might try updating the DivX codec.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:04 PM on March 15, 2013

Best answer: Download "MediaInfo" and find out what's in them. MP4 is a container; you can put any codecs in it that you want to.

I think you'll find that the ones you cannot play use some codec that the others do not.

And then the solution is for you to find and install the missing codec, or upgrade the one you've already got. (My bet is "Hi10p".)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:28 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Chocolate Pickle is correct- QT files can be any of dozens of codecs - although they are all ".mov" files, they are for all intents and purposes different file types, and need their own codec installed to play properly.

H264 is another common one.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:16 PM on March 15, 2013

Fixes I've tried, which have failed:
-deleting and re-downloading the files
-restarting QuickTime
-reinstalling QuickTime
-Restarting computer

Yeah, so, did you verify the files are the same and complete?

Check the file size. If the size agrees, run "shasum " in terminal and make sure it is correct.
posted by rr at 2:59 PM on March 15, 2013

The two problems here. First, 10.5.8 is pretty long in the tooth at this point, and it won't support newer codecs. Second, Apple isn't interested in supporting/updating QuickTime anymore, so it's unlikely you'll find a vendor fix for your issue. Newer versions of OS X come with QuickTimeX... but what the future of that is is hard to say.

As Chocolate Pickle points out, MP4 is a container. It's like looking at a bunch of files called document1.doc, document2.doc, document3.doc, etc. Can you tell what language they're written in? No. They're all .doc files, but some could be in Spanish, some in French, and some in English. That's analogous for what's probably going on with your MP4 files.
posted by sbutler at 4:57 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

FWIW, you told us a ton about your software, but told us exactly zero about your hardware, and this kind of thing on first glance smells like a hardware problem. Saying 10.5 is long in the tooth is understating the problem.

Secondly, as mentioned above, the mp4 part is a simple container, I love it when a client says "well that's okay, but I'm gonna need it in a .mp4 format.", it's like a secret handshake for the video industry.

C: You don't say what your goal is, and I'm having a hard time answering your question. Is the end goal to just view this content? If so, use VLC.

I'm constantly amazed with VLC's ability to simply play any content I throw at it. Sure, you might not get any audio, sure the subtitles might be goofy as hell, but hot damn it will play that video.
posted by Sphinx at 8:28 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone.

Yeah, I know, my OS is long in the tooth. I'm using an old MacBook (aluminum 2009) and I do plan to upgrade everything shortly, but so far have simply been too busy to set aside the time for all the upgrade work needed. (Plus I am barely barely barely competent, as you have surely all noticed, to do these upgrades, so I'm wary of starting them in the middle of a time-sensitive project.)

In short, yes, it was a missing codec problem, but DivX Plus played everything beautifully, so I've just switched over to that for now.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:23 AM on March 18, 2013

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