AVI files work for a few seconds after reboot then only sound continues

posted in General


This is driving me batty. I have a Dell XPS 420 machine that is less than a year old. This is the second time I have experienced problems viewing AVI files on this machine. It is running Vista Home Premium Edition.

The symptoms of the problem sound similar to some of the codec issues mentioned here, but Ive tried many, many different players and codec packs all to no avail. Basically what happens is I open an AVI file by double clicking, and it proceeds to play only the sound... that is unless I try it immediately after I reboot the machine. I just learned in the last hour, that if I try to play one of the files right after a reboot, it will play for some time... up to a minute I would guess before the video drops out.

The last time I had this issue (back in November) Dell tech support was able to remote my machine and fix the issue. I spent about two hours on the phone with them again today, but they couldnt get it going this time. They could only recommend I spend $129 to get further support. Needless to say before I do something like that I want to try figuring it out further on my own.

That leads me here to this board... looks like some great minds at work here, but I havent seen a post that sounds like my issue.

Here are the most recent codec packs and players I have tried: Divx bundle, Intel A/V Codecs V2.0, K-lite codecs, elecard player.

Any ideas on what kind of weirdness is going on here? Thanks in advance for any suggestions. reply

Holy Cow! I just had a breakthrough on this problem, now if I could just get this to work for my Ulead editing software.

Here’s what I did... I downloaded VLC player this morning as what I thought would be another futile effort to fix this problem. The thing is, it works! Now, any idea how I can get Ulead to work? reply


The beauty with VLC Media Player is all its codecs are built-in and are independent of Windows. The downside is even if you can play a video with VLC (that you couldn’t play before in other players), it won’t suddenly play in other players or programs.

I want to say (see this as constructive criticism) that your approach to installing the codecs was totally unscientific. You just installed random codecs and codec packs without even knowing which one you needed! A lot of people do that because they don’t have time (or they’re just impatient and want their media to work now).
The “right” way to approach this is to first find out what’s in the file that won’t play. There’s three things that count: the container (file type), the video codec, and the audio codec. I made a thread on what tools you can use for this (all are free):
Once you find out what codec the file uses, you can search for it on the web. (Report back to us the fourcc and tag number and file type if you need more help).

Now the way you described things suggests that the file itself may have problems with it (possible corruption). In some file formats/media player combinations, the player will play up to the point where the data is corrupt. Past that point it can freeze, crash, display garbled data. It’s pretty unpredictable. Some more sophisticated players will not crash or hang like that, but will continue to scan until they find good data, and then resume playback. I think VLC may be one of them (I’ve seen VLC resume correct playback on a few of my corrupt Xvid videos before - they had maybe 1 or 2 seconds of garbled data using other codecs, but somehow that part decodes correcly in VLC).
Anyway if you have an AVI, you can also open it with VirtualDub (also free). VirtualDub is mostly an editor, but I like to use it to scan a file to see if everything is all right, and sometimes to play back files that have problems. To do that, click file, open video file. Then check the box 'ask for extended options after this dialog' before you pick your file. After you pick your file you’ll see a popup window. Check the boxes re-derive keyframe flags and open in avifile compatibility mode. If during scan it finds errors, it will either crash, or you’ll get a popup box. If it successfully scanned without crashing, regardless of the results, you should be able to play the file from start to end without interruption.

Last thing: if you want system-wide codecs (available to Windows, Windows Media Player, Windows Explorer, etc.) similar to VLC, get ffdshow-tryouts. The codecs in ffdshow-tryouts integrate with Windows, and are from the same code base as VLC (they’re from libavcodec to be exact). reply


thanks a bunch for your help anonymous. i installed g-spot and found out the following about all of the files in question. the files I am struggling with are all of those that were created through previous downloads from my sony handycam. the video codec is dvsd and the audio codec is PCM Audio. the files were all captured with Ulead video studio, and at one point worked fine. they still work fine on my wife’s Vista laptop (same age as this desktop) using any player ive tried (the same version of Ulead, windows media player, and windows movie maker.

another interesting note... I tried capturing new video today with both windows movie maker and Ulead. in the past when I capture, I can watch the video on screen during the capture process. now, the screen is blank just like when I am trying to playback files in those programs... this is also the case if I try to capture live video.

im starting to wonder if there is something going on that is non-codec related. but since I am not really aware of how the whole process works, i dont know where to go next.

by the way, i do appreciate the feedback whether its constructive criticism or not... i take this as a learning process! reply


dvsd is one of the fourcc’s for digital video in the AVI container.
Microsoft has a built-in dvsd decoder as part of DirectX since version 8. It’s either in quartz.dll, or redirected from it. There’s one problem with that decoder though and it’s the fact that it’s DirectShow-only. There’s two common ways of rendering videos in Windows: one is DirectShow and the other is VfW (Video for Windows), which is a bit older. Some codecs only support one or the other, so you’ll sometimes get the occasionnal program that won’t work because the right architecture isn’t supported (VirtualDub is an example: only supports VfW*)

* Well not a problem for dvsd, because VirtualDub now has its built-in dvsd decoder... but this would hold true for many other codecs (for example M4S2, SEDG, and many others)

Anyway, one of the useful things to do is to run gspot, and find out which decoder is handling dvsd. It could be quartz.dll, but it could also be something else since you had a codec pack. The way to do it is open the file in gspot, then at the bottom where it says MS A/V, click the 1. It should list the list of codecs and filters used in the rendering sequence. You can click on the name of the files and the arrows to see what the file involved is. If quartz.dll is used, then it should say it somewhere in the sequence.
If it’s something else, you can try deleting that file temporarily to let quartz.dll do the decoding.
If it still doesn’t work out, delete the file and download another dv decoder. I don’t recall exactly which fourcc’s the various dv decoders handle, but you can try this one from panasonic: http://users.tpg.com.au/mtam/install_panvfwdv.htm and there’s one from canopus (handles fourcc cdvc, not sure it’ll handle dvsd though) and one (pay one) from mainconcept. And I forgot to mention the one from ffdshow (you may have to enable it manually in the decoders menu - it’s in the start menu - then there’s a window like this and make sure dv is enabled) reply


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