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Friday, January 12, 2007

Large AVI Files From QuickTime Pro

I could use some advice if anyone’s got it. For the past week or so, I’ve been looking for a way to get some edited video programs out of Final Cut Pro (or just QuickTime Player) over to a PC in my office in a format that could be recognized by Windows Media Encoder. I have QuickTime Pro on my Mac and the solution seemed simple—Export the video as a DV-encoded AVI. I did a one-minute sample file, and Windows Media Encoder created a .WMV file with no complaints.

“Great,” I thought. Time to copy over the full half-hour videos I’ve been making.

Bzzzzz, wrong answer. These AVIs would neither open in Windows Media Encoder, nor even play in Windows Media Player. Strange. I opened the AVIs on my Mac in QuickTime Player. Initially, they seemed to play just fine. It wasn’t until a minute or two later that I realized the playhead was moving across the bottom faster than it should’ve. Turns out, only about 7½ minutes was accessible.

It took a lot of searching, but I finally found an answer from Apple’s support web site:

QuickTime: Exporting AVI Files Larger Than 1 GB

Applications that use QuickTime may not be able to export AVI format movies that are greater than about 1 GB in size.

Symptom
After exporting an AVI file larger than 1 GB, the file size appears correct, but the movie stops playing when it reaches the 1 GB point.

Products affected

  • QuickTime Player (QuickTime Pro)
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Final Cut Express
  • iMovie
  • Other programs that use QuickTime
  • QuickTime versions up to and including QuickTime 6.5.2 for Mac OS and Microsoft Windows

Solution
QuickTime can open large AVI files, but does not export AVI files larger than about 1 GB. Export the file using the MPEG-4 or QuickTime Movie formats instead.

Well, it’s not good news, but at least it’s an explanation. But it’s also not an explanation. For the love of Pete, why can’t I export an AVI bigger than 1 GB? If there’s a technical limitation, why didn’t Apple say why it’s not possible? Or is it that they just want to discourage the use of AVIs and arbitrarily set this limit? I doubt the latter reason, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was true.

By the way, of a 28+ minute video, it turns out that the 7½ minute point that I reached is approximately 1 GB worth of AVI. But even stranger is that during the export, QuickTime didn’t simply stop at that point. It actually did export a full 5+ GB AVI file. But Windows Media Player could not play it at all if it were bigger than 1 GB and QuickTime Player would only access the video within that first 1 GB.

So here’s where my plea comes in. How can I export from QuickTime on my Mac to something else Windows Media Encoder will accept in its full duration? Yes, I already know about Flip4Mac but I’m not without my reservations there, too. I actually purchased the $50 Flip4Mac Studio and successfully exported a .WMV, but here’s a big warning. The basic studio version gives you ZERO control of any settings. You only get 300kbps video, 64kbps audio, 320x240, one-pass, constant bit rate files. Even the smooth/sharp slider is unavailable to you. Well, for my needs, all those settings are what I wanted anyway, except that the locked smoothness setting produces unacceptable artifacts. It’s terrible and worthless. I can’t imagine anyone being satisfied with the output. If Flip4Mac is going to lock you into just one setting with the entry level product, at least make the output look like something I can live with!

But no, you have to fork out another $50 for the $100 Flip4Mac Studio Pro. I simply can’t justify spending $100 on something that I can do for free on the PC—were it not for my inability to find a way to export from QuickTime in a format that Windows Media Encoder can read. Fortunately, Flip4Mac seems to be willing to refund my purchase since I’m completely unsatisfied with it. And yes, I intend to request instructions for removing the upgrade code. I do not believe in using this software if I haven’t paid for it.

So again, who can tell me how to export a format from QuickTime that can contain my entire half-hour video and can be converted by Windows Media Encoder?

» Posted by ALBj at 09:41 AM (ET)
Category: Journal, Mac

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