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  1. Member
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    I have a video converted from a VHS source. It was converted using Handbrake (on a Windows PC), with this codec information shown in VLC:

    Codec: H264 - MPEG-4 AVC (part 10) (avc1)
    Video resolution: 720x576
    Buffer dimensions: 720x578
    Frame rate: 25
    Decoded format: Planar 4:2:0 YUV
    Audio codec: MPEG AAC Audio (mp4a)

    When my friend tries to play them in Quicktime Player she gets this error: "The document test.mp4 could not be opened. The file isn't compatible with QuickTime Player".
    Any idea why Quicktime Player can't play the video, and what settings I need to create a video that will be playable? (it won't play in iTunes either, apparently)
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  2. I would install VLC player. job done
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    Thanks - will do. So the default video player on a Mac won't play H264 MP4?? Really??
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  4. Originally Posted by itm2 View Post
    So the default video player on a Mac won't play H264 MP4?? Really??
    Depends on the age of the Mac and specific OS install its running on.

    Just as with Windows, the "native" Mac video player can be picky. Sometimes it will easily play video files that popular third-party players have trouble with, but generally both the Mac and Windows default players have trouble with anything not encoded to a narrow, typically older MP4 standard. And neither the Windows nor Mac "native" players will play MKV at all (which is just bizarre, considering how long thats been more popular than MP4 at this point). Things may have changed with the very latest MacOS and Win10 updates, but I haven't checked.

    The VLC player recommended above is the universal player almost everyone on every platform relies on, even if they also install additional players they like better. VLC will usually play anything you can throw at it, no matter how off-spec or oddly formatted. Handbrake can spit out some pretty peculiar files sometimes, even if it seems like you asked it for a totally common standard format.
    Last edited by orsetto; 30th Jun 2020 at 17:27.
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  5. WoW! Great replies. Thanks!!!
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    Windows Media Player has no problem playing these files, presumably because it gets regular updates from MS? Is the same not true of MAC OS?
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  7. Member DB83's Avatar
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    Did you actually read what orsetto took the time and trouble to write ?


    Windows Media Player could play these files even from the time of Win7. I do not own a Mac but I do know there are several different OS's, with strange sounding names, so it is perfectly possible that they will not play on the OS installed on your friend's system with default player. Or such a system that would require a third-party codec.


    And Quicktime player will also play them under Win7.
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    Originally Posted by DB83 View Post
    Did you actually read what orsetto took the time and trouble to write ?


    Windows Media Player could play these files even from the time of Win7. I do not own a Mac but I do know there are several different OS's, with strange sounding names, so it is perfectly possible that they will not play on the OS installed on your friend's system with default player. Or such a system that would require a third-party codec.


    And Quicktime player will also play them under Win7.
    Yes of course I read what he wrote (but thanks for the patronising tone), which is why I was querying whether the reason that the standard Windows media player could play this, and not the MAC OS player, was that maybe MS provides better regular program updates which keep these things up to date, whereas perhaps MAC OS does not.
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  9. Member DB83's Avatar
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    But you miss the whole point.


    There, like Windows, is no single Mac OS. There are many and, I assume, not all are equal.


    What you should be doing is asking your friend the particular name/version of the OS on the system then someone familiar with it can contribute accordingly.
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  10. Originally Posted by itm2 View Post
    maybe MS provides better regular program updates which keep these things up to date, whereas perhaps MAC OS does not.
    Yes and no.

    Windows Media Player on my updated Windows 7 laptops remains fairly lame, with inconsistent compatibility. It does play some MP4 files my Mac video player won't, but on a surprising number of occasions the reverse happens and I've been able to play MP4 files on my (really old) Mac players that the latest Windows 7 WMP chokes on. Its a roll of the dice with either platform. Most of us with varied collections of video files from multiple sources consider the built-in players that come pre-loaded with the computer OS as stop-gap or placeholder apps: we install VLC or MPC-HC or PotPlayer, etc as our primary video players because theres much wider file compatibility and formatting tolerances vs the default OS players.

    In your case, Handbrake produced an MP4 with specs your friend's Mac player can't handle but your WMP can. Possibly the Mac in question is much older than your Windows install: Macs can chug along happily on decade-old OSX versions if the owner doesn't need to run the latest software. Its equally possible this Mac is relatively recent, and the current Apple player still choked on your MP4 simply because ts formatting fell just slightly short of whatever Apple deems "golden" (WMP can be just as picky, depends on the video file, you got lucky this time).

    The main convenience advantage of the default players on either system is they'll automatically run when you double click a compatible video file, and play it immediately. More versatile, tolerant third party players like VLC tend to make you open the player first, then play the video indirectly via their File>Open menu. Annoying, but not nearly as annoying as the endlessly spinning cursor or codec dump pane you'll often get with default players and "funky" videos.
    Last edited by orsetto; 1st Jul 2020 at 21:52.
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    Originally Posted by orsetto View Post
    Originally Posted by itm2 View Post
    maybe MS provides better regular program updates which keep these things up to date, whereas perhaps MAC OS does not.
    Yes and no.

    Windows Media Player on my updated Windows 7 laptops remains fairly lame, with inconsistent compatibility. It does play some MP4 files my Mac video player won't, but on a surprising number of occasions the reverse happens and I've been able to play MP4 files on my (really old) Mac players that the latest Windows 7 WMP chokes on. Its a roll of the dice with either platform. Most of us with varied collections of video files from multiple sources consider the built-in players that come pre-loaded with the computer OS as stop-gap or placeholder apps: we install VLC or MPC-HC or PotPlayer, etc as our primary video players because theres much wider file compatibility and formatting tolerances vs the default OS players.

    In your case, Handbrake produced an MP4 with specs your friend's Mac player can't handle but your WMP can. Possibly the Mac in question is much older than your Windows install: Macs can chug along happily on decade-old OSX versions if the owner doesn't need to run the latest software. Its equally possible this Mac is relatively recent, and the current Apple player still choked on your MP4 simply because ts formatting fell just slightly short of whatever Apple deems "golden" (WMP can be just as picky, depends on the video file, you got lucky this time).

    The main convenience advantage of the default players on either system is they'll automatically run when you double click a compatible video file, and play it immediately. More versatile, tolerant third party players like VLC tend to make you open the player first, then play the video indirectly via their File>Open menu. Annoying, but not nearly as annoying as the endlessly spinning cursor or codec dump pane you'll often get with default players and "funky" videos.
    Thanks for that - a good explanation.
    You can actually change the default player for a specific file type on a Windows system to a third-party program (on Windows 10 at least - not sure about Windows 7). So for example you can double-click on a video file and have your program of choice (e.g. VLC) open it immediately.
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