… for Codecs & Media

Tip #1257: Repair a Broken QuickTime Movie

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Here are a variety of tools you can use to convert, repair and play QuickTime files.

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QuickTime is a very flexible media container, but, when it breaks, it breaks badly.  There are three big problems with video files that won’t play:

  • The file lacks an extension
  • The codec is no longer supported
  • The QuickTime movie itself is broken

The first problem generally shows up when you store media files on a server. Servers don’t use the Mac operating system, which means that all files on a server must use an extension. Sometimes, simply adding the correct extension – either .mov or .mp4 – will allow a movie to play.

A bigger problem with video files are codecs that are no longer supported. Apple removed support for 32-bit codecs in macOS Catalina, which means many early videos no longer play. Even my audio-only files, stored in early QuickTime movies, won’t play.

To play older files, I have several older computers that I’m not upgrading. As well, Kyno, from LessPain Software will convert older codecs, even if the movies won’t play on a current operating system.

The third problem, though is trickier. When dealing with QuickTime movies, the entire file needs to be perfect for the video to play. If one small part of a QuickTime movie is damaged, the entire movie is dead. For this reason, much though I love QuickTime, I’m also converting any movies that need future proofing into MPEG-4. Keep the bit rate high – 10 Mbps or above – to retain high image quality. Then, I have both a ProRes version and an MPEG-4 version. One of those should last.

If the media file is damaged, I’ve had great success using Wondershare UniConverter. While this hasn’t fixed all my files, it HAS fixed most of them. This software has a free trial that converts the first third of any video. If it can convert a third, the paid version (subscription or purchase) will convert all of it. I used this software to recover over 100 files that wouldn’t play.

As well, the folks at Digital Rebellion also have a family of QuickTime repair utilities called Pro Maintenance Tools. I’m hoping to give it a try in the next week or two. I have great respect for their developers!


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3 Comments
  1. albertjh
    albertjh says:

    Awesome Information Sharing! I used Wondershare and Stellar Repair for Video software on my Windows PC. Both software’s easily repair quicktime broken files. Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Steven
    Steven says:

    Larry, I’m very curious about the Digital Rebellion tools. I almost bought them on holiday sale, but their site does nothing to convince me that their software is current and works with the latest files. The site is filled with old screenshots from early days of FCPx or older. Clearly (out)dated documentation.
    Looking forward to what you have to say.

    Reply
    • Larry Jordan
      Larry Jordan says:

      Steven:

      They are still very much in business and updating their software as recently as this month (December). Take a look at their blog:

      https://www.digitalrebellion.com/blog/

      for the latest updates and news. I’ve known their owner for a number of years – though we haven’t spoken recently. He is very well regarded.

      Larry

      Reply

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