Most of the video files we make for distribution either online or for USB are MPEG-4 encoded with an H.264 CODEC. The file extension for these types of file is usually .MP4. The most common description for these types of file is H.264 MP4.
The reason we use H.264 MP4 is that it is one of the most widely compatible digital video formats to date. The files work on computers, tablets and most modern televisions.
In general H.264 MP4 files work on any Windows, Mac or Linux computer. However, there are issues that can arise with older operating systems or playback software that prevents the files from playing correctly.
Please note – this article is for information only. We are not offering free technical support.
Computer Playback Issues
One common problem with some software including QuickTime Player is that the file plays the sound just fine but there”s a black screen instead of the video. Similar problems with QuickTime and other software has been complained about on web forums and technical support sites for years and years. Solutions are suggested but nobody ever seems to come up with a fix.
Another issue is choppy or corrupted playback. The footage may jump or freeze and the image could break up and become pixelated or suffer from blockiness. This is often a sign that the computer you are using is too slow to playback complicated MP4 files properly but it can also be software related.
We do know that some computers on corporate networks have restrictions imposed on them by the system administrators to prevent unauthorised content being accessed. This is a completely different problem and if you are on a corporate network and need to access a certain file or files type then speak to your help desk for advice.
What can you do to fix it?
If your computer is too slow then you may struggle to find any solution other than upgrading to a faster one. There are solutions like converting the files to an older CODEC like MPEG2 but honestly – if your PC or Mac isn’t fast enough to play the files then it will take forever to convert them.
VLC Media Player is a free open source software player for Windows, Mac and Linux. The software will play MP4 files properly. You can download it from videolan.org
In our experience VLC never fails to play video files correctly provided the computer you are using is good enough for the task. We recommend using VLC as the first thing to try when trouble shooting video playback problems.
What if it still doesn’t play on my computer?
It’s rare that VLC fails to fix software playback faults but if you are still struggling then there are two things you should establish:
- Check the file is working properly on a different computer. If it doesn’t then the file itself could be faulty.
- Try playing a different MP4 file on your computer. You may find that your computer can’t play all sorts of files. If this is the case then consult a friendly geek for help or treat yourself to a new one – just kidding but if your computer is too old and slow generally then it’s probably time for an upgrade.
There are of course lots more things you can try to narrow down and resolve playback faults. If you are technically minded and have the time to fix things yourself then that’s great. We know that VLC is an easy fix to just get video files playing correctly but it won’t fix faults with your other software. If QuickTime Player didn’t work before VLC then it still won’t work afterwards.
QuickTime for Windows no longer supported
Direct quote from Apple website – ‘QuickTime 7 for Windows is no longer supported by Apple. New versions of Windows since 2009 have included support for the key media formats, such as H.264 and AAC, that QuickTime 7 enabled. All current Windows web browsers support video without the need for browser plug-ins’
Unless you have a very good reason for keeping QuickTime on your Windows computer then you should remove it. There are known security vulnerabilities which will not be patched.