The Mac and Video Codecs

So I got a new Mac G5, it looks pretty cool and is designed to replace the cable madness sprouting in all directions from our current windows PC (a Dell). All the things you may have heard about the Mac is true, its incredibly stylish and with the wireless mouse and keyboard (I already have a wireless lan), the only cable protruding is the power cable so chalk one up for Apple.

Now I use a JVC Everio MC200 for home video.This is a tapeless video recorder with a hard-disk that creates these funky .MOD files (MPEG-4?). The recorder comes with its own editing and management software (Power Director) but I don’t do much more than dump the content to disk at the moment. On Windows I just asked Windows Media Player to try and read the files and bingo, up comes the whole thing with no issues. It then mapped the .mod extension to Windows Media Player and ever since then I upload and away we go.

Now on the Mac it just plain don’t work. After a little digging I discovered that with the Quicktime Pro upgrade I might be able to look at them. I bought this (~ €40) only to discover I had to shell out an additional €20 to get the MPEG-4 codec. Even with this I still can’t hear the damn video. I then tried ffmpegx, a free download. It can create a format that Quicktime understands but I appear to have lost some resolution.

Now I’m new to the mac so I could just be having a bad attack of neophytes syndrome, but I don’t think so. Smells more like corporate gouging to me and sloppy compatibility to me.

8 thoughts on “The Mac and Video Codecs

  1. Just download MPEG Streamclip. With the mpeg2 codec already bought and installed from apple, this player will allow you to see and hear perfectly. You will also have the option of doing batch conversions from there. Easy. Fast. Free.

    Good luck


  2. One more thing Joe. You have a couple of options once you have your mod fil imported into Mpeg Streamclip. You can export as a DV file or demux the mod file into M2v and AIFF, giving you separate audio and vidio tracks to use in your editing timeline.

    I find that with this program, unlike ffmpegx, the result is a very high quality conversion of the original file in super fast time.

    The big question? When will we no longer have to go through this procedure? The answer? When Quicktime enables muxed mod file play back. I’d imagine that time is not too far off.



  3. Right on steve. I couldn’t believe I had to go to all the trouble (and expense) just to view my JVC videos. Slag off Microsoft all you want, but the raw .MOD files are viewable directly in Windows Media Viewer.


  4. Hi Steve,

    Just gave streamclip a spin, however it is generating a nasty sawtooth effect on all the boundaries in the image that I don’t get with ffmpegx.

    Are you seeing this? Is there a setting I need to remove it?


  5. hey Joe

    No I am not getting that at all. Very strange. But let me try to explain what it “could be”. When you use ffmpegx you are actualy recompressing the file into a format that quick time will understand. As a result, the file is smaller in size, lower in resolution and there is a loss in quality.

    On the other hand, when you export the .mod file to a DV file using MPEG Streamclip, you are not loosing much quality (perhaps a loss of 2-3%). In reality, the file size goes up as well (a bit of a pain).

    What you might experience when playing back on your Mac then is a “shredded effect” in the video, especially in quick motion parts. The thing is, this is actually NOT happening to the file. If you were to take that very same file and now burn it to DVD, you will see a perfectly crisp, clear picture. The reason for the shredded effect is probably a quicktime playback issue. perhaps try burning a dvd and see if the resulting dvd has the sawtooth effect. But I doubt it will be there.

    I hope that somehow helps a bit. It is theory at the moment, but do give it a try. If it results in high quality home dvd movies, then it is definately worth the effort. After all, that’s why we bought this irritating .mod file camera in the first place!



  6. hey Joe,

    I’ve actualy got a couple of questions as well. Maybe this can hep explain the issue with the sawtooth effect.

    What format are you shooting in? 16:9 or 4:3? Your export settings should probably be adjusted for the correct one.

    Then, regarding ffmpegx, what format are you converting to? If you choose the same format using Mpeg Streamclip, does it make a difference to the exported file?



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