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PapaJohn
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PapaJohn's Newsletter #143

Sherlock - The Codec Detective!


I don't know if this issue is a good idea. As important as they are to video work, the understanding of codecs remains an elusive goal for me. It's for that reason that I thought taking a closer look at Marc Liron's 'Sherlock - codec detective' might help. I don't think it did, but I'll share with you what I found. 

As the world turns, there are more and more codecs to decode and encode videos... and to sometimes cause Movie Maker to crash or hang. The situation continues in Vista... which provides less visibility than XP to the installed codecs.

XP Device ManagerVista dropped the lists of codecs that XP's Device Manager > Sound, video and game controllers provides, leaving just the device specific line items. Utilities from third parties such as GSpot are needed even more than they are in XP. 

Codecs are confusing and mysterious. When you're missing one, it's hard to know which one to get and where to get it from... it's easier to turn to a mega-codec pack and dump them all in... but that sometimes results in things getting worse.

When a codec is involved in a crash, and you can tell from the event viewer data, it might be listed in Movie Maker's compatibility list to easily uncheck and resolve. If it's not listed in the event data, or not shown in the list, you need to do some detective work.

Note that codecs can be involved in issues with Vista's DVD Maker, and the app's synergy with Movie Maker is such that you resolve it the same way, by using Movie Maker's compatibility list.

This issue won't present a good understanding of codecs or how to resolve issues with them. Nor will it present anything really new. What I'll do is use Sherlock to check my laptop's codecs to see how things are, and think about what, if anything, I should do. I'm not having problems with Movie Maker or other software, so it'll just be an academic exercise.


Sherlock

Sherlock - The Codec Detective utility isn't new app. It's been around for a few years, during which my main tool has been GSpot. Sherlock was developed by Marc Liron, one of the Microsoft MVPs in Digital Media. Here's an excerpt from Marc's website...

I noticed that there was no reliable utility that could:

# Determine the codecs installed on a Windows XP computer

# Check to see if any of the codec's were "BROKEN"  (will be highlighted in RED....)

# Export the data to a text file for technical support!

# Was FAST to run on a PC and did NOT require installing...

# SMALL enough for download by modem!

...So I created one!

I call it:

SHERLOCK - The Codec Detective

The important thing to remember here is that YOU do NOT need to understand what this software DOES!

You just RUN it, click the SAVE button and it CREATES the TEXT file automatically...

All YOU do then is email the file OR "copy and paste" the contents of the file to whoever is providing you with technical support!

Couldn't be easier!

I'll also include this disclaimer and request from Marc...

I'll use the GSpot utility to cross-check Sherlock. Before getting into it, here are...

... a few notes...


Notes...

The video explosion made it to our local newspaper. I saw a picture on the front page the other day with a pretty severe motion blur across it. The caption said to go to their website and watch the online video... so it's a daily newspaper including links to videos!!!!

Vista Corner

I found a bug or quirk of DVD Maker that I wanted to formally report to Microsoft, but didn't know what official submittal to make now that the beta is closed. From what I see in Vista, the only offers to submit such info is after a crash that leaves info in the event viewer. But what do you do when there isn't a crash or such data?

I checked with Microsoft to see how an MVP should make such submittals, and also how anyone else might do it. The result is a new section at the bottom of my website's  About Movie Maker page. Use the links to submit whatever you want.

Making Movies with Vista! the six page article is in the Spring 2007 Special Edition of MaximumPC, on bookstands now to May 29, 2007. Starting on page 78... the article covers the movie making process from camcorder tape to viewing it on a standard video DVD.

.... back to the main topic...


Sherlock - the Codec Detective

Sherlock is for XP systems only.

Downloading and installing...

As Marc says, there's no installation. Download the sherlock.exe file, put it in the folder of your choice, and run it.

Broken Codecs

As Sherlock opens, it goes through the computer and checks codecs. On my laptop, after the checking is done, it warns about one audio codec and three video codecs being broken...

pressing OK

The warning says to click on the respective codecs in the list to see more info...

Doing it gives the same message for each of the broken codecs.

Driver not found

The bottom line seems to be that each of the broken items has a registry entry, but not a file.... the registry has the friendly name of the codec, but Sherlock can't provide detailed info about the version because the data resides in the file, which is missing.

Broken for my items means the codec file isn't there. Sherlock's comment about the codec not being uninstalled properly means the uninstall didn't clean up the registry.

If you have a tech support person, lists of installed and broken codecs are what the utility produces. Installed ones get lots of info, and broken ones are simply listed by the friendly names.


Sherlock's Info...

After the warnings about broken codecs, Sherlock shows you a list of the installed audio and video codecs. The picture shows the audio list.

Info includes the path to the driver, except for the broken ones, which show no info in the Driver field. Here's what I get from it for my first broken codec, the Morgan Stream Switcher.

Morgan Stream Switcher

A broken car can sit on a street or in a garage, not hurting anything. Maybe a broken codec is similar. A small file hanging around but not hurting anything is OK by me. If I need the missing or broken codec, that's another story. For now I'm doing fine without them.


What does GSpot say about the broken items?

GSpot Missing File
GSpot has a column for the Driver File name. And it highlights in red those with missing driver files.

Here's what it shows for the Morgan Stream Switcher. As with Sherlock, it must be getting the info from the registry. ....  

GSpot - More Info
Double-clicking a selected codec in Sherlock doesn't get any more info... but in GSpot, here's what you see.

While Sherlock told me 4 codecs are broken, GSpot says 8 are missing files. The bold ones are those that are reported by both Sherlock and GSpot.

  • Bicubic Video Resizer
  • DivXAntiFreeze
  • Dump
  • Morgan Stream Switcher
  • Nero DVD Decoder
  • Subtitle Dest
  • Subtitle Mixer
  • Subtitle Parser

GSpot reported all that Sherlock did, along with 4 more.


Check the Device Manager...

A check of the lists of Audio and Video codecs under Sound, video, and game controllers shows none of the eight with missing files.


Search the registry...

Run > regedit > search for 'Morgan'... the first hit is in HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT > CLSID > HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{083863F1-70DE-11D0-BD40-00A0C911CE86} > Instance > HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{083863F1-70DE-11D0-BD40-00A0C911CE86}\Instance\{D3CD7858-971A-4838-ACEC-40CA5D529DC8} >

Registry

There's one other registry instance which shows the same info as above.

Searching for 'DivxAntiFreeze', one of those found by GSpot but not Sherlock, shows similar info...

DivxAntiFreeze

I wonder why GSpot shows more codecs than Sherlock!!


Search the hard drive...

For 'morgan' and the CLSID number... not found


Searching the internet... got lots of info

For 'morgan stream switcher' - got this Morgan Stream Switcher Website , which rings a bell or two.

The site refers to downloading and running MMSwitch.exe... mmswitch.ax is one of the 'problem codecs' on my website page.

Morgan Site Info
The  Morgan-Multimedia site covered codec packs... mentioning MMSwitch.dll and MMSwitch.ax.

Here's a couple interesting paragraphs from the site.

Where, when, why did I get the registry entry... did it come in with one of the installed video utilities or apps?

Things are difficult enough doing detective work on codecs, without having to sort good original ones from less than perfect hacked files.


Search my personal database

I collect lots of info in my personal database... a search of it for 'morgan' got some info to add to the above...

  • .... One codec can produce several fourcc signatures (e.g. the morgan mjpg codec)...
  • a November 2004 FAQ from Microsoft for MM2.1 included... Turning off DirectShow video filters in Windows Movie Maker 2.1 does not affect their functionality in other video and audio programs that might be installed on your computer. The DirectShow video filters that are turned off in Windows Movie Maker 2.1 include those in the following table.

DivX AntiFreeze Filter.. Divxaf.ax
Kristal Studio.. Ac3audio.ax
InterVideo Audio Decoder..  Iviaudio.ax
Morgan
Multimedia Stream Switcher.. Mmswitch.ax
FFDShow MPEG-4 Video Decoder..  Ffdshow.ax
DirectShow Subtitle Filter.. Subtitds.ax

The 6 codecs mentioned are all in the list of problem codecs in my Crashes and Hangs website page.

It's interesting how this short list correlates with my broken codecs.


Check my Movie Maker 2.1 Compatibility List...

... Iviaudio.ax is listed, and it's the only item unchecked. The others are not listed.


Back to the hard drive to search for Mmswitch.ax....

not found... maybe it was me who manually deleted it without cleaning out the registry.


Conclusion and Closing... and What's Next?

It's great to not be having any codec problems with Movie Maker, and to have the luxury of just sniffing around my system to write a newsletter.

Sherlock did one thing well... providing an immediate but short list of broken codecs. GSpot confirmed the list, doubled it, and provided a bit more info.

GSpot's latest version works on Vista, while Sherlock is currently for XP only. Continue to use GSpot, especially useful with the dropped codec info from Vista's Device Manager.

I added another codec to the problem list a couple days ago... Nero's NeResize.ax... maybe the user had a hacked version and not the real one!!! How does a tech supporter know? Codec issues are not going away soon.

Have a great week and enjoy your video work...

PapaJohn


I look forward to comments and discussion about this and other newsletters on the forums at:

Windows Movie Makers.net

Have a great week...

PapaJohn

Movie Maker and Photo Story 3 - www.papajohn.org
Photo Story 2 - www.papajohn..org/PhotoStory2/PS.html


Products and Services

I'm involved in anything and everything that supports the users of Movie Maker and Photo Story, and adding more regularly. Some are free and others reasonably priced.


Radio and Podcasting

theDVShowTheDVShow is the only weekly Podcast having more useful information about desktop video editing and production than anywhere else on the Web. Digital video editing, nonlinear editing, streaming media, software releases, tutorials, business tips, technical help, download of the day and news on the latest products to make everything easier. It's where professional and consumer desktop video users go to stay on the cutting edge. 

Call the phone mail machine to get your technical question answered on the air... call (206)-203-3516

The radio broadcast is from Boston, and the website has downloadable podcast files. The June 19th 2005 podcast was the first 'bi-weekly' show with a segment about Movie Maker 2. The frequency of radio Q&A sessions about Movie Maker has fallen off as submitted questions are minimal.  Maybe Vista will perk it up a bit.


Do Amazing ThingsBooks

Movie Maker 2 - Do Amazing Things (with its online companion on www.papajohn.org ), published by Microsoft Press...

Movie Maker 2 - Zero to Hero - with support on the publisher's forum -  Friends of Ed

Learning VirtualDub - published by Packt Publishing in April 2005, is the first book about VirtualDub software. I wrote the introductory chapter about downloading and setting up the software: VirtualDub, VDubMod and AVISynth.

Virtual Dub

A large percentage of book sales are of electronic copies. The Packt Publishing Website page  for the book provides a full table of contents and chapter summaries... and a link to a full free online copy of Chapter 3, Capture Preprocessing.


Magazines - MaximumPC

A six page article Making Movies with Vista is in the Spring 2007 Special Edition (page 78), on bookstands now until May 29, 2007. It covers the movie making process from camcorder tape to viewing it on a standard video DVD.

The 2006 Summer Special edition included a 7 page tutorial about Photo Story 3.

The November 2005 edition had a well done reworked 6 page reprint of the article about Movie Maker, starting on page 42 after the Happy 20th Birthday article for Windows.

The Winter 2005 quarterly special had a 7 page tutorial Make a Killer Home Movie with Maker 2. The special edition of the video made for it is  on my website as a file download.


Websites

Movie Maker and Photo Story - www.papajohn.org - the site's goals are: doing amazing things, providing a detailed tutorial for PhotoStory 3, and helping you solve Movie Maker problems.

It's been expanded to include the version 6 of Movie Maker in Vista, along with the new Photo Gallery and DVD Maker apps.

PhotoStory 2 - www.papajohn.org/photostory2/PS2.html - a detailed tutorial about using the earlier version. It's been a long time since I've updated anything on it, but it still gets pretty good viewer traffic.


Online Support - Forums and Newsgroups

I'm a regular or moderator on many online forums and newsgroups, the key ones being:

Forums are open to all for viewing, but require registration of those who want to post. Moderators actively participate to ensure the forum discussions move forward and stay on track.

Movie Maker and Photo Story forums at Windows Movie Makers

Movie Maker 2 forum at SimplyDV.com

Newsgroups are wide open for all to view and post... moderation is collective by the participants.

Windows Vista newsgroup - microsoft.public.windows.vista.music_pictures_video

Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup - microsoft.public.windowsxp.moviemaker

Photo Story 2 newsgroup -  microsoft.public.plus

Photo Story 3 newsgroup -  microsoft.public.windowsxp.photos


Weekly Newsletters

Movie Maker/Photo Story newsletter. The subscription is $20 for 52 issues, and a link to subscribe is on the main page of  www.papajohn.org or the Products and Services page.

Topics for upcoming newsletters (always subject to change):

#144 -  April 7 (open)

#145 -  April 14 (open)

#146 -  April 21 (open)

Newsletters issued more than 6 weeks ago are posted by Rob Morris to an Archive Site on his Windows Movie Makers' website. Links from my website pages to specific newsletters make it easier for viewers to see the content of both while browsing a topic.

Drop an email to suggest a topic...


Software

Add-On Transitions and Effects

Transition Maker 2  (TM2) is a utility for the ultimate in making your own personal and custom transitions for Movie Maker 2. It's a joint product from Patrick Leabo, the programmer, and myself.

I've beta tested some of the Pixelan packages , including the new packages for Vista, and think very highly of their people and products.

ProDAD's Adorage packages for Movie Maker 2 are additional sources of very professionally developed transitions and effects. Here are links

TransiitonsEffectsPackage for Movie Maker - Volume 1 

PapaJohn's Transitions - Volume 2

PapaJohn's Video Effects - Volume 3


Music

I use a lot of professional background music for movies and stories that was created by Randon Myles, and act as his agent in selling tunes individually. 

There are 62 tunes available from 4 of his many albums... at 99 cents per tune (MP3 or WMA format). Here's a Sample - 45 seconds from 'Groove 2'. The 4 albums are: In the Fields of the on-Feretin , Music for Film Volume III, the Emerald Way, and the Fourth Door.

I don't have a full set of online samples yet, but if you hear something you like in one of my videos, there's a good chance it was done by Randon. Send an email if you are interested.


Personal Database

With more info to manage, consider additional tools that help.

My personal database has been an ongoing project over many years, and is now available to others. A tutorial about using it is on the Managing > Personal Database page of my site, and more info is in the database package itself.

It's free for the asking to regular newsletter subscribers... send an email request and I'll return it with the zipped file, which is less than 1 MB.

To others it's $10. To order, use the button on the top of the Managing > Personal Database page.

On my list of things to do is a video tutorial about how to use it.


Online Galleries Neptune Gallery

neptune Mediashare is the preferred file download service for Movie Maker users... there's a  'PapaJohn Expert Zone' where I keep many of my samples and personal videos. 

Check it at Neptune and the Distributing > Neptune page of the website, where there's a developing tutorial about how to use the service.

Mydeo... and mydeo is the preferred video streaming service. Many of the video samples for newsletter are on it.

Normal sized photo stories stream as well as or better than movies.


Training

In conjunction with the Portage, Michigan library , I offer free training sessions about Movie Maker and Photo Story, an intro session and a workshop. Upcoming classes are 7-8:30 PM on:

March 29, April 19 and May 17

The classroom has a large screen overhead projection system... and individual laptops for each attendee. You learn by doing, with some coaching.


Other fee-based services

If you can't save a movie because your project has become too complex, e-mail a copy and I'll divide it into manageable sub-projects, and provide detailed instructions about how to render the parts and assemble them into your final movie. $49.95 (no cost if it's not the right solution or doesn't work) - for details, see the sidebar on the Problem Solving > Can't Save a Movie page of www.papajohn.org

Movie Maker 2/Photo Story training and support services start at $75 per hour - send an email -  PapaJohn@CharterMi.net and I'll help you determine your needs, and work with you to plan and implement them.

Wedding combo website/video packages - check the Living Projects section of the website for samples of what you can expect for the online portion of a package.

2007 - PapaJohn; Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

 

About John 'PapaJohn' Buechler from Microsoft.com
John 'PapaJohn' Buechler John "PapaJohn" Buechler, of Kalamazoo, Mich., goes by PapaJohn online. An avid user of Movie Maker since its first release, and a regular supporter of the community of Movie Maker users, John received a 2003 MVP award from Microsoft for that support. In March 2003, he started a comprehensive website about Movie Maker 2 at www.PapaJohn.org. He maintains the website, writes books and articles, teaches, and provides support services - all for the community of Movie Maker 2 users. An engineer by formal education, John is a computer database and multimedia expert by business and personal experience. He co-authored the first book about Movie Maker 2 and is actively working on a second one. You can find his advice in the Windows XP Movie Maker newsgroup and in the Windows Movie Makers Forums.

This newsletter is republished with permission of John "PapaJohn" Buechler.
Please note that this is an archive of newsletters and some information may become outdated. PapaJohn, and the webmaster of this site, provides this information "AS IS" with no warranties.

Visit - PapaJohn's Movie Maker 2 and Photo Story 2 Newsletter Index

 

 

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