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FAQ: Problem with AVI File - The Lowdown

Feb 19, 2013 4:23 PM

Why doesn’t my .AVI file Import, or play properly in Premiere? Hey, it’s an .AVI file. Why can’t Premiere work with it? It played fine in Windows Media Player (WMP), and VLC Player. Even QuickTime Player does a good job. What’s up with Premiere?

 

Sound familiar? You may even have asked some of the same questions. What’s the answer?

 

Well, it comes down to CODEC’s. Those are the mysterious little modules that allow one to either encode, or decode Audio and Video files. With but a very few, and some rather esoteric exceptions, these little guys are lurking around every Audio or Video file that you will ever see. Their handiwork is in there someplace, but we can’t really see it.

 

If you’ve ever used an Adobe program to Burn a DVD, you’ve used the MainConcept MPEG-2 CODEC, whether you realized it, or not. That is but one of many hundreds of CODEC’s. They are everywhere.

 

Now, I mentioned .AVI files, but various CODEC’s play a role in almost every AV file. They do a job, but can also wreck havoc, when one goes to play, or edit a file. To use one, it must be properly installed on the computer. Some come with your OS, but others have to be purchased, or downloaded, and then installed to function.

 

The file extensions that we see all of the time, things like .AVI, .MOV, .MPEG, .TOD, .MOD, etc. are but "wrappers." There can be so many different things inside those wrappers - read CODEC’s. Imagine that someone has taken many packages of sticks of chewing gum and removed the outside paper from each stick. All we have are the foil "wrappers." That is what those file extensions are. Now, we feel fairly certain that each one contains gum, but what flavor is in each? Is it Double-Mint? Is it Spearmint? Is it Juicy Fruit? That is what we’re faced with, when dealing with most AV files. We think that the file is an AV file and will probably contain either Audio, Video or, in many cases, both. Still, we do not know what flavor is inside the wrapper. We can "sniff" the wrapper, but still do not know for sure. That "sniffing" is what we do, when we look at the file extension. We see .AVI (or other), but that does not tell us much. Here is where a little freeware program, G-Spot comes in. First thing that it does is to survey your entire computer to determine which CODEC’s you have properly installed. Next, when you drag one of your AV files to it, it will give you almost every bit of information on that file. It works most thoroughly with .AVI’s but also will give info on .MPEG’s, .WMV’s and .MOV’s. The amount of info will differ by the file’s format. With .AVI’s it will not only tell you the "flavor" of the gum, but exactly how that gum was made. The most important bits of info will be the CODEC’s used in the creation of that file. If it’s an Audio only file, it’ll yield that info. If it’s a Video only file - same thing. If the file is muxed (multiplexed with both Audio and Video) it’ll tell you both CODEC’s used. Next it’ll tell you if you have the necessary CODEC’s installed properly on your system. If you do not, it will warn you, and also give you the official name of the necessary CODEC. Here, you’ll need to use that name to go out and find it. Google will be very helpful here. Remember, some CODEC’s will be free, and some will need to be purchased. Whichever you end up with, you’ll need to install them properly on your computer.

 

Next, G-Spot will allow you to Render your file, using the CODEC’s, if installed. This can be a multi-step process, especially with muxed files, as you will need to Render both the Audio and Video. If all completes successfully, G-Spot will offer to play the file in a small viewing window. This is one of the most invaluable tools that you can have. Another is MediaInfo, which is very similar to G-Spot. For a Mac, try MediaImspector (http://mediainspector.massanti.com/).Then, the use of the Properties function in WMP, or QT Player will also come in handy for gathering as much info on the file, as you can. All are useful, but I use G-Spot first and most often.

OK, we now know that the .AVI file is Beechnut Liquorice (DivX CODEC), not my favorite. What do we need to do for this file? First, we’ll need to probably download and install the DivX CODEC. With that, we can play the file in one of our players. Can we edit it? Maybe yes, and maybe no. Note: some players have their own set of CODEC’s and will play almost anything. This, however is not a guarantee that any other program can use those versions of the CODEC’s. As a matter of fact, it’s highly unlikely that any other program can use them.

 

If we can play it, why would there be a problem editing it? Well, there are major differences in being able to play the file and being able to edit that same file. Some NLE’s (Non Linear Editors) can handle some CODEC’s better than other NLE’s. It could just be a choice between different editing programs. Premiere cannot usually handle DivX, or its open source cousin, Xvid well, if at all. Most NLE’s can’t either. The majority are based on a DV-AVI Type II w/ PCM/WAV 48KHz 16-bit Audio workflow. That is what they handle best. Let’s call that file format Spearmint, my favorite flavor. It’s created with the MS DV CODEC, and works perfectly in Premiere, or most other NLE’s. We’re lucky, because there are programs available that can turn almost any flavor of AV file into Spearmint, er-r DV-AVI Type II. We just need to use one of those to do the conversion, prior to Importing the file into Premiere.

 

What about feeding Premiere with say Double-mint, and letting it convert internally to Spearmint? Some times Premiere can work with some CODEC’s for editing. Often times its internal conversion will be perfect. Still, there is a price to pay for this and it’s usually performance when editing. On a very powerful computer, one might not notice the necessary internal processing going on, but if the computer is less than state-of-the-art, editing is likely to be slow, and can also crash, or run out of resources. Doing the conversion outside of Premiere is always going to be better, as long as we convert to that DV-AVI Type II format.

 

Even if Premiere can Import some of these files with other CODEC’s inside, there are very often problems. Some common ones are OOS (Out Of Sync) issues, no Audio, no Video, horribly pixelated Video, partial display of Video or Video and Audio that halt, or stutter.

 

When you see a .AVI file, think of the foil wrapper on a stick of gum. We think that there’s gum inside, but we first need to find out the flavor.

 

Hunt

 

Message title was edited by: Brett N

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 29, 2009 1:46 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Hi there..

     

    Sorry about my english, is not so good, and thats why i didnt understand your entirely post !

     

    Im desperate, im having exactly the problem that you posted here (OOS), but I couldnt fix it with your help.

     

    I downloaded Gspot as directed and ran the file through it. (As shown in my attached screen shot)

     

    Can someone help me ? thanx !!!

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 17, 2009 1:22 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Here a pic of the G Spot run of the file I am using in Premiere Elements.

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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 18, 2010 10:36 AM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Sorry, I posted this in another thread.

     

    This is a really nice article.  Excellent analogy, however.  Here-in lies the problem.

     

    If Adobe Premiere likes Spearmint, and it can't handle Juicy Fruit, then it should be able to understand that it needs to convert the file.  If Adobe Production Premium is an all in one solution, then there should be a program that should convert it to the format that it likes (that's what the import is for), and yes, it should be able to read the CODEC and complain that the CODEC doesn't exist on the machine to properly convert it.  I don't think it should be left to the video editor to do this (although, in a small shop, it ends up being the video editor that has to solve this problem).  I want to spend my time editing the video and not have to fidget with CODECs.  I thought that Adobe Media Encoder was the program to do this.  Ok, I tried to convert into a CODEC that it would like, but it can't even interpret the b and p frames of other CODECs properly, so it is still crap in the end.

     

    If Adobe Media Encoder spends so much time to render a video (I don't mind editing a crap version of the end-result and the render feature takes to much time to make it feasible in my workflow), why doesn't it do a proper job of encoding (to gather the proper frame), that's my problem.  Why do you have to get something like G-Spot and VirtualDub to do the dirty work for you, when all you really need is some form of video that works with Premiere?  I am spending far too much time trying to convert the video to a proper CODEC than editing video, which as we all know consumes most of our time.

     

    You pay the big bucks for it to work.  I expect Adobe Premiere to have this all worked out.

     

    It takes me 3 times as long to edit in a NLE than something like Windows Movie Maker (which I know is linear), but I want the features of the Adobe Premiere which I can't get with WMM.  I get quality output from WMM, but crap from Premiere, which renders my final cut useless, and a complete waste of time.

     

    That's my biggest gripe right now.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 19, 2010 12:37 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Thanks Bill.

     

    Yes, WMM is good up to a certain point, but there are things that I want to do with PrPro that I can't with WMM.  It would be nice to even cut footage and use them in each of the programs.  That I can't even do, because of the CODEC issues I am having.  I am not asking for the NLE to do the CODEC work for me.  All I am asking is that there is a better way for the Media Encoder (because this is where I think the process is).

     

    There should be two processes, one where the user has full access to make their own CODEC conversions, and the other is to convert from one CODEC to a useable i-frame CODEC useable by PrPro.

     

    I totally understand the whole CS collection, and each tools is there for a certain purpose.  I wouldn't be using PrPro to create a website, I would be using DreamWeaver, but what gets me is that you have to use G-Spot or a free tool.  Master Collection is not a complete toolset, for your complete production needs.  This is the reason why I think that Media Encoder lacks any intelligence.  The media encoder should be able to attach to any CODEC and output it into a corresponding CODEC or a CODEC format usable by PrPro.

     

    In reference to doing things 3 times as long is inaccurate.  I am spending a lot of my time in conversions, when I just want to do editing.  My first time at PrPro took me a little bit longer to learn, but I got the hang of it.  The problem now is that I can't produce anything of any use with Media Encoder because of the CODEC issue.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 23, 2010 8:15 AM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    I solved my problem, and I still had to use VirtualDub to convert my screen capture recording to a useable editable CODEC.  Still doesn't remove the fact that AME should render improperly.

     

    The second error was I was getting blurry images while editing.  Using the default (DV-NTSC Standard 48kHz) was the culprit.  Who would have thought this was the problem.  And this is the default!  I guess we are in america and most people using this software would use this as the default.

     

    When I imported the movie into Pr, it looked clear, but when I placed it in the sequence, it was blurry.  I changed the sequence to DV-24p Standard 48kHz, and everything was crystal clear.  I take it that the sequence was supposed to match the source footage.

     

    Ironically, I did another sequence in DV-NTSC and then placed it in a sequence that was DV-24p and it came out crystal clear.  ?!?

     

    So the combination of these two factors made my editing experience a nightmare.  Hopefully, this will help solve other people's issues.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 7, 2010 4:06 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Bill, Thanks for your quick reply. I deleted the original thread when I saw my email. Will my email address continue to show on forums when I reply to your emails? Is there way to not show my email address?  I selected hide email in my forum profile. I need help to figure out this weird frustrating problem.  I am close to giving up.

     

    Thanks

    George

     

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 26, 2010 3:12 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    "We’re lucky, because there are programs available that can turn almost any flavor of AV file into Spearmint, er-r DV-AVI Type II. We just need to use one of those to do the conversion, prior to Importing the file into Premiere."

     

    I'm curious. What other program do you use to convert to DV-AVI Type II

     

    Message was edited by: maxdido

     

    Never mind. I found it already in the FAQ.

     
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    Nov 3, 2010 1:39 AM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Thank you very much. I shall study this!

    wset 90

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 23, 2011 12:14 PM   in reply to wset90

    Hi Bill,

    Just curious. Why wouldn't PrE be able to handle an uncompressed avi that Windows Moviemaker was able to handle. When I pulled my avi into PrE it got really dark; too dark for me to use. Yet, Windows Moviemaker handled it with ease. I prefer not to download G-spot. Our IT group frowns on us downloading any kind of freeware.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 13, 2011 7:43 AM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Great guide to CODEC's Bill, you have provided many answers in regard to AVI and DivX, and reasons for Adobe applications having problems with them for me. It would be nice to have a one tool fits all scenario and I'm sure many purchasers of Adobe suites expect exactly that, but these technologies are really only comparatively new and exist in a very variable and volitile environement. I googled "SAR PAR DAR" (Storage, Pixel and Display, Aspect Ratio) the other day and was quite pleased to discover a nice little run down on the history of Video (analog and digital) from Wikipedia, only just touching the surface but still something to open the eyes a bit more (or glaze them over for many I suppose)...

    Cheers

    Peter

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 30, 2011 9:15 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Can you guys report that I am getting erroneous email alerts from this thread... I contacted Adobe about it today via the online chat and got no where.

     

    Thanks,

     

    numetro

     
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    May 31, 2011 6:08 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Hunt, what a great article! Entertaining, too. I'm

    printing it out and will try to work with it. (Hope I can do it) Really, thank you so much.

    luvsfotos

     
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    Jun 1, 2011 3:37 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Bill,

     

    I downloaded g-spot. My dodec is dvsd Name DVC/DV Video. Status says Codec(s) are installed.

     

    I'm beginning to think that my project was corrupted when the system hung. Is there any way to fix this or do I need to start all over again?

     

    Andy

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 26, 2011 10:50 AM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    I have AVI files recorded from a digital camera that won't import into Adobe Premiere Elements.  I keep getting "This type of file is not supported, or the required codec is not installed." I've used this GSpot application and it shows


    Codec: MJPG

    Name: Motion JPEG

    Status: Codec(s) are Installed


    Codec: PCM Audio

    Info: 44100Hz  706 kb/s (1 chnl)

    Stat: No Codec Required


    Under Proposed Codec Solutions and Tests I get render OK, and it plays fine in the preview.


    So... why won't Adobe Premiere Elements import the darn clips?

     

    For anyone else having the same issue, updating QuickTime solved it for me.

     

    Cheers.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 9, 2014 9:45 AM   in reply to vicky515

    Dear Vicky515 I tried everything the forum members advised and none of them helped me get Canon .MOD format files changed into .MOV files. I was left feeling like I must be lacking some Premiere Elements gene since I just haven't been able to figure it out. I stopped asking and stopped using Premiere Elements 9, my only video program. I even e-mailed Canon but my camcorder is out of warranty and they didn't respond. When I feel strong enough (only kidding) I'll contact Adobe Premiere Elements 9 "tech support" and try to get an answer out of them.  Good luck and I sympathize. luvsfotos

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 6, 2011 1:45 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Bill, it looks like you're the go-to guy here. I have the same  problem with some old 8mm movies that were digitized for me by a video  service firm.  Their extension is VOB.  Gspot tells me that they're in  MPEG-2 Program Stream format, and that both the audio and video codecs  are installed on my computer.

     

    When I import them into  Premier Elements, the initial clip images are clear in the Tasks panel,  but when I double-click one, all I get is a black screen and the audio.

     

    Help?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 18, 2011 2:34 PM   in reply to Bill Hunt

    Bill,

     

    I've got a Canon PowerShot SD870 IS that tapes videos in AVI. I ran this camera with Photoshop 5/Premiere 3 Elements for a couple of years. I've got a Win7 computer with Elements 9 now but do not get the AVI running. Sounds seems to be OK. Video is not running.

    ScreenShot_GSpot_.png

    Tobias

     
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