Finding the right Video codecs

h264, mp4s and AVIs oh my!

My son Will is doing a video for his media class.  He borrowed our friend Jenny’s camera.  This all seemed simple enough.  Just download the files and edit them right?  Not so fast there!

None of our computers had the right codecs to even play the files.  And his editor program would not even recognise them as videos.  It seems that they are stored in something called h264 or MP4 format.

I hit sourceforge for a converter program.  I quickly found and downloaded a MP4 to AVI converter. The program error ed every time I clicked on a file.  I dug through the advanced trouble shooting to find it only worked with h263 files whatever those are!

There was a procedure to convert h264 files but it was too complicated for us to follow and we were missing some of the software.

As we grew more frustrated and the deadline was fast approaching we tried a different approach.  We used the camera software to upload the videos to You tube.  Then I used a capture program to convert from You tube to AVI.

This worked pretty well but was very slow.  Especially having to wait for Youtube to process the file.  Eventually Will got all his files uploaded and converted.  He then loaded them on his thumb drive and brought them home.

Then he discovered that his home computer, the newest and fastest one we have, would not play the AVI files!  He still needed a codec.  After some googling and a lot of reading on the Miscrosft site I found  This site had the instructions for finding the right codec and had the codec in an easy to download and install package.  Thank you WMPlugins!

The story does not end there however, because today eh got to class and his files still would not play on the school computers.  And he does not have rights to install a new codec.  Hopefully his teacher will help him sort it all out.

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