Foxvideo Productions

Media Production

Corrupt .mov file repair


In the old days (well a few years ago, give or take) videotape problems could be fixed easily, a dropout was easy to fix in an NLE, a broken tape could be fixed with splicing tape (I’ve fixed many!) and even a broken cassette shell could be replaced, then came digital video files on memory cards…

I’ve lost count of the amount of posts I’ve seen on forums asking for help with lost files, cards formatted before removing files and corrupt files, very often deleted files can be recovered easily with modern recovery software and on occasions, I’ve done it with success.

Corrupt files are a different ball game, a common cause is turning the camera off before the buffer has fully written the file or battery failure, the data is there it just can’t be read by any program.

It happened this weekend with a friend of mine, it started with an email asking what programs could read corrupt files, I replied with my standard list of ‘go to’ programs, MpegStreamclip, VLC player, Handbrake, Video Monkey etc, none of these worked so I suggested he Dropbox the file to me.

The original file was from a JVC HM100 camera, when it arrived none of my fixes worked, the file had data - 2.3Gb so something was there, another friend of mine had a similar problem a few months back, he’d used a trial version of repair software from Grau GmbH, this saw his file and suggested it could be repaired so he bought the program for 99 Euros (they also offer a 5 file repair for 29 Euros), it worked fine and his lost files were recovered, saving a costly return trip abroad!

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The problem with the current repair was it had an inverse budget, 99 Euros was a little out of the question for a repair, the footage was cutaways and B roll so it wasn’t critical to the project but would have been helpful.

I searched the web for any other solutions I might have missed, in a short post from several years ago on a forum, one guy had suggested using File Juicer, which I have, I’ve used it for extracting photos from PDF documents and PowerPoints and would never have thought of it as a video program in any way.

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It was worth a try - I dropped the broken file onto it and within 2 minutes it had extracted 15 .mpg files from the 2.3Gb damaged file!

The HD files opened and played perfectly in Quicktime with no corruption but there was no audio, I emailed my friend and told him the news, he was fine about the missing audio as the shots were only for cutaways, so I sent them back to him via Copy.

When he’d got them, I got an email asking how to get them into Final Cut Pro, I’d been so pleased to see working video files I’d forgotten to convert the .mpg files to ProRes .mov files, a simple fix in MpegStreamclip using the Batch facility, so I emailed him the details on how to do it.

The solution offered by Grau GmbH seems to work well, I’ve heard from several users this is the ideal way to recover damaged .mov or .mp4 files and I’ll probably buy it at some stage, but who’d have thought a little known, $18 program would save the day?

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