Sunday, January 16, 2011

Conversion Blues or Newbie H.264 Video Fits

I could spend a solid month trying to troubleshoot video import, editing and conversion problems. Just when you think you have it licked some SOB manufacturer comes up with a variation of a video file format that is not standard.

Here is the thing.

Many people do not want to edit, they just want to upload or put the video on DVD. That is fine. Point and share, I get it. These same folks want excellent quality in a small hand held camcorder. The MP4 video format meets that need.

But there are a bunch of us that do need to edit video or add information. Some of these folks have no tech skills at all. There are those of us who do have a bit of tech blood in us and others that are skilled creatives that know the score about compression.

You know what?

We all go through holy hell trying to import and edit .mp4 videos. All of us. Why? Because there are multiple versions of the H.264 MP4 video format:
Generic MP4 videos that any video editing program should be able to open.

H.264 MP4 is becoming more standard but it may not be recognized in earlier versions of video editing software such as Windows Movie Maker2 for XP and some Vista users.

H.264 AVC MP4 should work in most consumer video editing software like Adobe Premier Elements, Corel VideoStudio or Sony Vegas. You will have to check your version of the program to confirm the ability to import.

H.264 AVCHD MP4 that sometimes records in a .AVI format that may or may not be DivX, Xvid, or some other fruit of the codec loom.

H.264 MP4 MOV format - if you are a Mac user score but if you are not it will not open in Windows Movie Makers or Windows Live Movie Maker.
Download Caution:

Be very, very careful about downloading video editing and conversion software from other than the source vendor software sites. I do not support crackware or the thief of product. I do not support spamware or companies injecting nasty software into my computer.

A lot of icky maleware is wrapped up in so-called conversion software.

If a program states that it is free to download that does not mean the software is free to use. There may be a cost in nag screens, installation of an unwanted toolbar or limited features until you pay up.

Make sure that your anti-virus, spyware and malware detection in up to date before downloading anything.

CNet's and Major Geeks are good places to visit and most important, check out the comments before you download software. They do what they can but you are responsible for knowing what you are installing on your system.

Let the sadder but wiser girls give you the scoop.

Solutions Dang It!

The solutions really depend on what your needs are, your skills and your endurance level. For newbies who just wants to get it done:

Check your existing software. Many of the reputable video editing vendors have address the challenge of .mp4 videos.

Adobe Premier Elements 9 - can handle video from Point and Share MP4 videos and dSLR cameras. Premier Elements 8 and earlier cannot.

Corel VideoStudio Express - can import most H.264 high definition videos.

Sony Vegas Movie Studio HD - depends on the version. It claims that it can handle DV, HDV, and AVCHD but you might be safer in purchasing the Platinum 10 version to make sure.

Newbies Who Don't Want to Buy Software:

Windows Movie Maker2 for XP and early Vista cannot read .mp4 videos, there may be a little wiggle room if you install the codec but that is not something a newbie should have to do.

Windows Live Movie Maker can read generic MP4 and some H.264 MP4 formats. It cannot read H.246 MP4 in the .MOV format. These are usually found on the Kodak line of camcorders and a few others. You will need a converter program.

For both programs you will have to use a conversion program such as open source MPEG Streamclip to convert the video to an .AVI video format. Either way, you'll need space to store your videos and conversions. Stock up on those DVDs or get an external drive for back-up.

For newbies these are the options of the day. They are not the best options but they will work.

Until there is a homogenization of MP4 video formats we gotta do what we can to make it work.

Other Posts of Interest


  1. Clarification: Adobe Premiere Elements 9 will import .MP4, but it will not display actual video, just stills. Meaning of course that this software is useless for editing MP4 video.

  2. Ouch, thanks for the warning. It still is not as easy as it should be.

    I am still waiting for that universal video format.


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