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Quicktime playing camcorder files - Error opening video files - mp4 h.264 - Error -50: an unknown error

Santa has bought me a nice new camcorder. It's a Samsung VP-HMX10 HD Flash (SDHC) camcorder. The camcorder is fine, but I'm still working on a few problems with my video editing software Adobe Premiere Elements 3 (which I have purchased before, not the software supplied with the camcorder). There are problems with the supplied Cyberlink software as well.

This brings me onto my first point. If you are looking to buy a camcorder then the decision between buying a standard camcorder and a HD camcorder may not be as straight forward as it first seams.

Standard Definition vs. High Definition Camcorders

Firstly from a future proofing point of view it does make some sense to go for HD. In a few years time I guess that almost all camcorders will be capable of HD recording. My last camcorder is over 5 years old and is still usable. So I'm looking for a similar life out of my new camcorder.

Second consideration is the cost. A HD camcorder currently costs about 1.5 to 2 times the cost of a standard resolution camcorder. This means that if you buy a standard camcorder today, then in a few year times the HD camcorders will be down to the same price as standard camcorders today. As a result you can end up with a standard and high definition camcorder for little extra than buying a HD camcorder today.

The final consideration, which you may not be aware of is the computing power required if you intend to edit the HD video on a computer. I have a fairly recent laptop, which when purchased about a year ago was considered a pretty good specification. My laptop is borderline on being able to edit HD video. Even a brand new, reasonable specification, laptop is only just above the minimum requirement. If you plan to upgrade your computer in the future (I expect I'll be upgrading before the end of the life of the camcorder) then a HD camcorder can be used in standard resolution and then future footage recorded in HD. Alternatively the video could be recorded at HD and then down-sampled when edited today, but keeping the original in HD for future editing.

I went for the Samsung camcorder as it fitted into a mid point between full HD and standard resolution, but only a little more expensive than a standard camcorder. The resolution is 1280 x 720 pixels for the Samsung VP-HMX10, which compares to 1920 x 1080 for full HD and 720 x 576 for normal PAL TV. The camcorder seams to use 16:9 widescreen when using the HD settings, but 4:3 non-widescreen when using standard definition, so I'm looking at recording HD, but only outputting as standard definition 16:9 at the moment.

Loading H.246 (mp4) video files in Adobe Premiere Elements 3

The camcorder files are saved as H246 / MP4 files.

Adobe Premiere Elements does not have a native import for H.246, but it can do so by using Quicktime as long as it is installed on the computer. There appears to be a problem with Quicktime and so as a result I am unable to import to Adobe Premiere Elements.

A search on the Internet shows that many other people appear to be having the same problem, but they don't appear to offer a solution. I've therefore posted the following on the Quicktime support forum.

Whenever I try and load a movie in Quicktime then I get the message:

"Error -50: an unknown error occurred" and then it fails to load. Quicktime appears to be left running in the background, but there is no GUI.

The player can be launched without a file, but once loading a file it gives the same error.

I am specifically trying to load camcorder MP4 (H264) files, but this appears to happen with other file formats as well.

I have tried uninstalling from control-panel and then downloading and installing the latest version, but this still doesn't work.

A search shows that lots of other people are having the same problem, but the only solution appears to be to install an older version of Quicktime. Is that a real solution? Is there somewhere that the older versions can be downloaded from?

More relevant is there some fix that allows this to work in the latest version?

I am running Windows Vista

View the support request on the Quicktime forum

Workarounds to enable editing of the video

At the moment I have a couple of workarounds, but unfortunately they involve reducing the quality. This can be done using tools such as ffmpeg, and SUPER.
ffmpeg is available on Linux and Windows. It is a powerful tool for transcoding between different video formats. SUPER is a Windows gui front end, that uses ffmpeg behind the scenes. The SUPER website is one of the worst websites I've ever seen and the software is not much better, but it is a bit easier than trying to work out the correct options for ffmpeg by hand.

I'm still working on getting Quicktime working, but maybe it's time to give video editing on Linux another go.

If anyone knows how to fix the Quicktime problem please add a comment to this post.