10 Replies Latest reply: Oct 14, 2010 8:04 PM by b noir
gordonf238 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
I have a home surveillance system which records videos in an MP4 format in 20-minute segments. I can download these off my surveillance DVR onto my PC. It's an MP4 format (about 130Mb in size, 15fps, no sound, 20 minutes long). On my PC (Win XP) I can play this video file in an MP4 player (from the looks of it, it seems like a Windows designed player, though it's not Windows Media Player).

On my Mac however, I am unable to play the file in anything. Quicktime, Quicktime 7 Pro, VLC, etc. Does anyone have any idea what codec/player/converter I can use?

Ultimately my goal is to burn a DVD (that can be played on a standard DVD player) with some of this footage.

Thanks a million for your help!

Mac Pro 2.93Ghz Quad Core Xeon, 8GB RAM, Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • 1. Re: MP4 file, cannot play on MAC, works on Windows
    Jon Walker Level 6 Level 6 (17,630 points)
    On my Mac however, I am unable to play the file in anything.

    If by "play" you mean the file will not load into a player, then it could be a file container problem. QT is very touchy about files not being "open ended" and/or file content and data standards properly matching. On the other hand, if the file loads but you are being told you need an additional component, then it is likely the MPEG-4 variant requires an additional third-party component like those found in the Perian component package if not already installed.

  • 2. Re: MP4 file, cannot play on MAC, works on Windows
    gordonf238 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hm, I do indeed have Perian installed. It seems like Quicktime is under the impression this is not a valid movie file. I've attached some screenshots below. Does this help at all?

    The movie plays just fine using MP4 player on my Windows XP machine, so it's obviously a valid movie file.



  • 3. Re: MP4 file, cannot play on MAC, works on Windows
    Jon Walker Level 6 Level 6 (17,630 points)
    Hm, I do indeed have Perian installed. It seems like Quicktime is under the impression this is not a valid movie file. I've attached some screenshots below. Does this help at all?

    It helps only from the standpoint that it is probably something wrong with file itself. For instance, QT will not open a movie if it cannot locate the end of the file. PC media players will. Same is true if headers and data types contained don't match. Not sure if MPEG Streamclip (PC version) would open such a file or not, but if it can, then you could try re-saving the data in an MOV file container which would then probably be properly terminated for QT Player use. If not, you would likely need to open the file on your PC and re-compress it for Mac use.

  • 4. Re: MP4 file, cannot play on MAC, works on Windows
    b noir Level 9 Level 9 (71,995 points)
    Do you have QuickTime installed on the PC, gordon?

    If not, try installing it:

    http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/

    ... and then seeing if you can play the file in the Windows QuickTime Player.

    Does it play, or do you get an error message on the Windows side of things too?
  • 5. Re: MP4 file, cannot play on MAC, works on Windows
    gordonf238 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I downloaded Quicktime for Windows. No luck. I get an error saying it doesn't appear to be a video file. I've tried uploading to YouTube, get an error converting. Yet somehow, this player for Windows (see screenshot) plays it just fine. Isn't there jack-of-all-trades player for Mac?

    The pink area is where the video footage was (screenshots in WinXP apparently don't capture the video playback portion)
  • 6. Re: MP4 file, cannot play on MAC, works on Windows
    b noir Level 9 Level 9 (71,995 points)
    That's an odd video player. I've been trying to do some research on it ... did it come along with the software and utilities for a higheasy CCTV card, gordon?

    (Thinking that if I can work out what sort of software/hardware is recording those videos for you, we can work out what format they're actually in ... Then we might be able to work from that info to a Mac-compatible viewer doftware for the files.
  • 7. Re: MP4 file, cannot play on MAC, works on Windows
    Jon Walker Level 6 Level 6 (17,630 points)
    Isn't there jack-of-all-trades player for Mac?

    VLC

  • 8. Re: MP4 file, cannot play on MAC, works on Windows
    gordonf238 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Hi b noir.
    The player came on the CD with the DVR. I didn't have to install it in Windows, moreso just drag the folder and run it from there. The DVR from what I understand runs on Unix (if that helps at all).

    I guess I'm puzzled at one of two things here: Is it an issue of having the right codec, or a whole player? As someone had mentioned before, if the headers/end-of-file is missing, many players won't play it?

    It's obviously a valid file (of some kind), as it plays back (in the provided player). It's just a big problem that I can't convert it to something workable and burn it onto a DVD.

    I've gone ahead and uploaded the file. It's 128MB and can be downloaded off my server here: For those of you willing to give it a shot, maybe you can find out something I cannot. Many, many thanks!

    http://www.materialized.com/temp/A-20101013-134328.mp4.zip
  • 9. Re: MP4 file, cannot play on MAC, works on Windows
    Jon Walker Level 6 Level 6 (17,630 points)
    It's obviously a valid file (of some kind), as it plays back (in the provided player).

    If you are saying the file came with its own "custom" player, then my guess would be that the data is "custom" encoded only for playback via the included player and unless there is a Mac version of this player, then you may be out of luck as far as making a direct conversion unless the player itself includes conversion routines.

    It's just a big problem that I can't convert it to something workable and burn it onto a DVD.

    If it can be viewed, then it can be captured. As a last resort, you can always try screen capturing the playing video in a format that is compatible both PC and Mac platforms which can then be burned to (or authored as) a DVD. The question now becomes one of how badly you want the end DVDs.

    I've gone ahead and uploaded the file. It's 128MB and can be downloaded off my server here: For those of you willing to give it a shot, maybe you can find out something I cannot.

    Only app I could get it to open (but not play) in was VLC. Info window there indicated the player was interpreting the content to be two separate MPEG layer 1/2/3 audio streams and not a video at all and is probably the reason none of the standard media players will recognize the content.

  • 10. Re: MP4 file, cannot play on MAC, works on Windows
    b noir Level 9 Level 9 (71,995 points)
    Only app I could get it to open (but not play) in was VLC. Info window there indicated the player was interpreting the content to be two separate MPEG layer 1/2/3 audio streams and not a video at all and is probably the reason none of the standard media players will recognize the content.


    That's interesting, Jon. The Windows QuickTime Player throws a 2048 when I try to play it, which seems entirely consistent with something peculiar like that. WMP isn't having a bar of playing it either.

    Gordon, what make and model number is your DVR? (Wondering if we can check through the documentation of that to see if that can be set to record files in a somewhat less exotic sort of format.)