Star Fish Movie and Codec Hell

I made a new time lapse movie yesterday. I photographed a star fish as it wandered over the back wall of my tank. You can view it here.  The surprising thing is that it moves fairly quickly, then sits and eats for a while, and then “dashes” away.  Given that the movie took about 4.5 hours to shoot, the darting is actually quite slow.

Sadly, most of you won’t be able to view this movie unless you also download and install KMPlayer.   How is it that I am able to create a movie that no one can view?  The secret lies in the codecs.

The term codec stands for Encoder/Decoder.  A codec is a piece of software that is used to encode and decode something (audio streams, video streams, still photos).  Codecs are used to read and write images (JPG, PNG, etc), audio (MP3), and video (AVI, MPG, MOV, etc).

You would think that the people who created computers would be smart enough to stick to a few standard movie formats, so that everyone has the right codecs, so that everyone can view each other’s movies.  Sadly, this is not true.  Somehow, the freeware software that I use to create these movies manages to create a movie that has a reasonable name, but is indecipherable to most movie playing software.

My latest camera, a Canon PowerShot, only will produce movies in Apple’s MOV (QuickTime) format.  For those of you who use Macintoshes, this is great news; for the rest of us, this is a huge pain in the ass.  Codec hell.

For now, I can’t suggest any easy solution to this problem.  Perhaps someone will post a link to a magical web site that will solve this problem for everyone for all time.

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2 Responses to “Star Fish Movie and Codec Hell”

  1. satjiwan Says:

    i don’t have a magic bullet, but maybe a work-around. i have used google docs or youtube as a place where i can upload a file that i can’t view. and then view it in google docs or on youtube. (you’ll have to figure out what level of sharing or privacy you want to manage.) from google docs you can export into another format. not sure you can do that with video files.

    at the least, this should be a way for you to post/share your MOV files.

  2. Byron Nelson Says:

    AVIDEMUX will read in and convert just about anything.

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