Please help me resolve a .avi codec conversion problem on mac
July 14, 2014 12:14 PM   Subscribe

I have downloaded a few .avi files from my security camera DVR. They are of window codec.avi files that my mac can not view. Is there a way, using my mac to convert them to a mac viewable codec?
posted by citybuddha to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What software are you using to try and view the files? I have found that VLC on OS X can open/play just about anything I have come across.
posted by Captain_Science at 12:20 PM on July 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Without having more information about which codec you're missing, I'd send you straight to either VLC, as Captain_Science suggested, or ffmpeg.
posted by straw at 12:26 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

In the past I've used Perian and QuickTime Pro to convert .avi files.
posted by shino-boy at 12:31 PM on July 14, 2014

Yes, Perian if you don't already have it installed.
posted by kindall at 12:41 PM on July 14, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks! Vlc does not play it correctly. Just an empty window
posted by citybuddha at 12:51 PM on July 14, 2014

Try MPlayerX or MPEG Streamclip.
posted by Mo Nickels at 3:04 PM on July 14, 2014

Surprised that VLC doesn't play them, but Handbrake will convert an avi to mp4 at which point QuickTime or iTunes will play it.
posted by ridogi at 4:33 PM on July 14, 2014

A .avi file can have practically anything in it. To get a better handle on what we are dealing with, can you either (or do both of the following):

open with vlc, select view, look at the codec information, and post back what you find, with a specific emphasis on any odd four-character code you see

tell us the exact make and model of your dvr

VLC and ffmpeg will play almost any standard codec perfectly, but it is the weird (nonstandard proprietary) ones that they will have trouble with.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 5:55 PM on July 14, 2014

Are you sure the files are not corrupted (i.e., have you gotten them to play on a windows machine)? You might try using file (this is a command line *nix tool but MacOS X is really BSD unix under the hood so find your terminal and give it a shot) to double-check that they are, in fact, AVI files, and not something else entirely that is mistakenly extensioned with AVI. This is unlikely, but not impossible.

Youtube supports uploading AVI files, so if the content of these files is not of a sensitive nature, maybe try uploading to youtube and playing them from there? You can always take down the video afterwards, so even if they are sensitive, this might be a viable option.
posted by axiom at 8:53 PM on July 14, 2014

This can be tricker than it sounds (without transcoding the video). Security systems like to use lots of weird bullshit proprietary file formats.

I know this because I recently had a similar problem (Swann brand security system, wanted to load the files in Adobe Premiere which wouldn't load the AVI files). The files were h.264 video in some wacky format that everything I tried thought was corrupted. This may or may not help, but IIRC I eventually succeeded by using AVS Video ReMaker. I may or may not have had to run the files through an FFMPEG stream copy first.
posted by neckro23 at 9:12 PM on July 14, 2014

If you have access to a Windows machine, you can try GSpot, the SFW codec information appliance which scans video containers* like avi and teases out the secrets of their codecs. Well, if you had access to Windows, you could probably just convert them on that.

*Filetypes like MOV, AVI, MP4, and MKV usually have predictable or common video formats inside, but they are really just container files, not radically different from the way ZIP is a container file, but designed to contain synced audio and video streams.

Can you share the model of your Security DVR? I agree with neckro23 that they're probably using some proprietary codec (or more likely a cheesy proprietary twist on an open codec) which is designed to keep you in their ecosystem.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:21 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

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