Friday, 21 February 2014

H264 Player - what a pain!

This is a very annoying player. Just called "H264 Player", there doesn't seem to be an about box (probably the manufacturer is too embarrassed to claim it). It looks like this:

If you right click on the H264Player.exe file and click properties, you get this:

Not a lot to go on really. The player plays files with ".264". The odd part, is it only plays on some machines; on others it shows a blank black window (as in the image above). It took me a very long time to understand why, but here is the fix: This player can't deal with dual monitors. To solve the issue, you can disconnect your second monitor (physically unplug it as turning it off wont help) or you can use the windows settings to "Duplicate these displays".

1. Right click on your desktop and click the "Screen Resolution" option.

 2. Under the "Multiple Displays" dropdown, pick "Duplicate these Displays". Click "Apply" and accept changes. (Note, to undo this, change back to "Extend these Displays"

3. Restart the H264 Player.

Alternatively, you can try converting the .264 files to AVI using ffmpeg, but I found this doesn't always work for these files. Out of 20 files I tried, at least 3 didn't convert correctly.

This is a command you can try which re-wraps the .264 files without re-encoding them. (More details can be found here:

ffmpeg -f h264 -i originalfile.264 -f avi -r 25 -vcodec copy -vsync drop -debug_ts -loglevel verbose -report originalfile-rewrap.avi

The problem I found is that in several files, the resulting avi doesn't play correctly in either VLC or Windows Media player. The issue is that after about 15 minutes of playback, the image breaks up and the screen goes gray. I suspect this is due to some non-standard encoding or dropped frames in the .264 file. For this reason, screen capture from the H264 Player is the best option for converting these files. 

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