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Forum Home > Sims 3 Machinima Tips and Tricks > All About Codecs

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The concept of Codecs is not really a beginner topic, but problems with codecs are horrible to deal with. We believe that when a new movie maker has codec problems it can be so frustrating that the person may walk away and never want to make machinima again. We at Simatography want to help you before it becomes too frustrating to deal with, so please read this everyone.


Glossary of Terms

Codec = compress/decompress or coder/decoder depending on who you talk to

WMM = Windows Movie Maker

.AVI = a file type called Audio Video Interleave

.WMV = a file type called Windows Media Video


Codec = software that takes large media files and shrinks them so that they can be transferred or stored more easily and quickly.  There are different codecs for different types of files.  If a file you are using needs a codec that is not on your computer or is not compatible with the player you use it either won't play or it won't function properly.


Formats like .AVI or .WMV files are like containers and in these containers are files which may have used different types of codecs to compress or decompress them.  You may or may not be able to play these files depending on which codecs were used compared to what is on your computer.  AHA!... because of this you may be able to play the audio portion of a file because your computer has that codec, but at the same time you can't play the video portion because your computer does not have those codecs. This would explain the black screen problem.  Broken? Another problem may be due to the fact that somehow codecs appear to get lost, corrupted, or outdated over time and need to be replaced or restored.


So what do I do about it?  We were just about to share that part with you.  Thanks to IdaNoReally - one of our star cast of moderators for her excellent explanations in the fourms. Here it is all summarized for you.


Ida recommends an excellent program that will not only fix your codec problems it will also check on portions of your Windows registry.  The program will report when it finds a 'dangling' registry entry and ask permission to delete it.  There are several versions available for free download from the basic program to the mega version.  I believe the basic program would be sufficient to solve most problems.


One caution, be sure to read the prompts as it installs.  For example, if you are downloading the mega version, it will ask if you would like to install the K-lite Media Player and make it the default.  This player did not appear to be too compatible with WMM so best to keep the Windows version as the default.   Once you download the file, create a shortcut to it on your desktop before you start to install the program. You will most likely have to restart your computer during the installation and this will make it easier to locate the program the second time around.


Step by Step walkthrough:

  • Close WMM. 
  • Once you download the file you need to double click on the K-lite.exe file from your download folder and place an icon shortcut on your desktop.  The program will start to install itself.  It may ask you to restart at some point, if it does you will have to begin the install again after the restart. 
  • As it is installing, it may prompt you that you have old codecs on your computer.   Mine warned that the old codec was known to cause problems.  The program will ask your permission to delete these old codecs if present and it may also ask you if you want to update problems it found with your windows registry.  This is up to you to do this or not. Both Ida and Minraed accepted these prompts without any ill effects; however, understand that there is always potential risk when any program requests permission to modify your registry files so please see the note below this lesson.
  • After that you will get a series of prompts and I would just except the defaults it has selected for you.  Do be careful to leave the windows media player as the default player as theK-lite offers a media player but it is not too compatible with WMM so best to leave that out. 
  • At the end it wants you to select if you want to edit the ffd show and ffd audio codec files (these are the main two WMM will be using now).  I would not edit these as I am not sure what to select.  I leave this as it is installed and it works fine. 
  • Keep this k-lite.exe file handy in case you have a problem in the future and there are updates on the codec site from time to time too. (link is below)  I recently had to reinstall the k-lite again as I had an old codec and was plagued by the black videos too. Ida uses and recommends the K-Like codec pack, which I have used also with success so this is the one we endorse. As we learn of others thatwe can stand behind we'll add them here too. Here are the links.

K-Lite Codec Information  and Downloads

K-Lite Codec Guide - main page for updates


Ninhead adds this tidbit:


Although, the K-lite codec pack will give you pretty much all anyone would need to view the files, there is a significant codec that is missing from within it....DIVX. The DIVX codecs and players can be downloaded (for free) directly from the DIVX site.


 DivX website

Advanced Links - for those of you crazy enough to want to learn more

Note on registry changes prompted by K-Lite: thanks to Ninhead for this information : 

Ninhead says  "I would not recommend using ANYTHING that attempts to delete any codecs from your computer, or alter the windows registry files. That's a good way to mess up whats already there, or create additional problems when filming within the sims2 or 3 (or even FRAPS for that matter).  I just always get a bad feeling when any program attempts to alter my registry files as that is an open door for viruses, and have had bad experiences in the past with programs that have attempted to do things of that nature (bad experiences meaning a complete windows re-install). I guess it would really depend on the severity of the problem at hand though. "

ALWAYS use caution when installing programs that request to change your registry files, and if you choose to then do so at your own risk. Best left for those who really understand what they are doing here.




November 5, 2011 at 7:43 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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