Common Video File Errors in Video Forensics

Technical Tips
2022-03-09

During a forensic investigation, you’re likely to encounter several obstacles and roadblocks when trying to extract and/or repair video footage, and video file errors are a great example of this.

Fail to resolve them quickly enough, and the entire investigation could effectively come to a standstill. Worse yet, by using outdated digital forensic equipment, you could potentially corrupt the video file and thus jeopardize the entire case by damaging a vital piece of digital evidence.

To avoid bumping into similar problems in the future and to minimize their impact on the investigation, we’ve prepared a list that covers some of the most common video file errors you could see during a forensic investigation.

After reading today’s post, you’ll be fully equipped with the knowledge on how to fix them and avoid causing any further damage to the video file. Stick to the very end, and we’ll also let you in on a secret and divulge what you need to do to prevent these errors from happening ever again.

FACT: Even deleted video recordings can be restored and recovered by a skilled forensic analyst. (source: commons.bcit.ca/forensics)

ERROR: Corrupted file

Using old-school or outdated digital forensic equipment can sometimes result in corrupting the file, causing several playback issues or even rendering it completely unplayable. Ideally, it’s best to avoid bumping into the issue altogether by using advanced video forensic software such as VIP 2.0.

Even if the file is already corrupted, not all is lost – if it’s at all possible, it will repair it and restore its integrity.

ERROR: 0xc00d36c4

You might encounter error 0xc00d36c4 when trying to play a video straight from a DVD, USB flash drive, smartphone, or another storage device. The root of the problem is often the storage device itself, but other factors such as malware, unsupported video format, wrong file extension, or codec problems are not to be ruled out either.

Try to see if there’s a missing codec you can install or try a different media player that integrates the necessary codec support by default (thanks to its Ultra Player feature, this is exactly what VIP 2.0 allows you to do).

ERROR: Distorted video

This is a common issue that tends to occur after upgrading to Windows 10. The videos that used to work fine can become broken, stretched, or pixelated. You could also experience distorted video due to hardware issues or your graphics driver being out of date.

To resolve the issue, try clearing your cache, updating your drivers and software, and disabling hardware acceleration.

ERROR: Black Screen

If you can hear the audio playing but the screen is completely black, there can be a wide range of causes at play. The headers could be corrupted, the video might have been converted to a file format that’s not supported, or someone tried to save it to a memory card that was already full.

Moreover, the storage device could have a bad sector on it or someone tried to edit it with a tool that’s not supported. Header corruption is another possible explanation.

Since there’s no way to know for sure, see if the video recovery feature of VIP 2.0 can determine the source of the problem and resolve it. To some extent, it can fix the issue with a one-click repair, even if the file got lost, deleted, overwritten, or fragmented.

ERROR: QuickTime Error 23132

If you’re trying to open an M4V file with QuickTime that’s installed on your Windows PC, you might get this error. There are multiple explanations as to why. First and foremost, this could be due to a faulty or incomplete installation of QuickTime, so try reinstalling it.

Then, see if your Windows Registry might be corrupt and fix it. On some occasions, QuickTime error 23132 may surface when your PC has a malware infection, so running a thorough antivirus scan is advisable. While you’re at it, check if there are any Windows updates you can install.

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 QuickTime is a native Mac software, but there is also a version that works on Windows.

ERROR: Missing video codec

If the video you’re trying to play gives you a missing video codec error, try to install it manually or try a different media player that supports it by default. Open up the settings section to see whether you can set it to download missing codecs automatically.

ERROR: No sound

In case there’s no sound coming out of the speakers, the first step is to double-check whether they’re turned on (you wouldn’t believe how many digital forensics investigators get tripped up by this).

Then, see if the connection between the speakers and the PC came loose. If that doesn’t work, there could be an issue with audio drivers, so try updating or reinstalling.

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No sound could indicate an issue with your drivers.

ERROR: Audio/video lag or syncing issues

If the audio starts lagging behind the video, this is usually an issue that’s related to the video file quality. In case closing and opening the program doesn’t work, a workaround is to set your media player to sync it manually.

However, it could be something related to your drivers, so make sure you have the latest version installed. Does your current digital forensic gear allow you to repair it? If not, perhaps it’s time to think about an upgrade.

ERROR: Choppy or blurry playback

Choppy or blurry playback can occur due to a plethora of reasons, including corrupt SD cards, encoding issues, or a media player that’s out of date. Try switching to another media player or updating your drivers (don’t forget to restart your PC to apply the changes).

If nothing seems to be working, consider upgrading to industry-grade digital forensic solutions such as VIP 2.0. This has a high chance of resolving the issue and repairing the footage, even if the file is corrupted.

ERROR: Dropped frames during playback

If frames are being dropped during playback, perhaps the device encountered a problem and thus the transfer or download process failed to complete. Dropped frames are often a sign the video has missing pieces.

A possible solution is to set the buffer setting in your media player to 5-15 seconds, but if the file itself is damaged and/or wasn’t extracted properly, you may want to redo the process.

If all else fails, see if a digital forensic software solution can help you repair it. VIP 2.0 has a video recovery feature that can fix the issue with a high probability of success.

ERROR: Corrupt video header or metadata

Inside the video header, vital information is stored pertaining to the video itself. Mess it up, and the entire video could become unplayable. Too often, this is something that happens when someone uses outdated or unsupported video editing software. The solution is to use a hexadecimal code editor and apply the fixes manually.

Do note, however, this can be a technically demanding process, so you need to know exactly what you’re doing. In case you lack the technical knowledge or simply don’t want to waste any more time, VIP 2.0 allows you to perform complex video recovery to repair video metadata and header automatically.

ERROR: This video file cannot be played

If you’ve run into the ‘this video file cannot be played’ error, note the exact numerical error code you’re getting. We’ve prepared the explanations with corresponding solutions below:

Error code: 224003

You might encounter this error when trying to play a video in one of the modern browsers such as Safari, Firefox, or Chrome. More than likely, your Flash Player is out of date. However, updating or even installing it is no longer possible because Adobe has effectively retired it as of December 2020.
Error code: 224003 could also pop up due to other reasons, including your browser being out of date, a connectivity issue, browser settings, or your antivirus interfering with playback. On some occasions, other browser extensions can interfere with it, so try disabling them temporarily to see if that’s causing the issue. Also, try clearing your browser’s cache and disable hardware acceleration.

Error code: 22403

This is a popular misspelling of Error code: 224003. Kindly refer to the solution presented above.

Error code: 232011

The problem sometimes occurs when trying to play a video clip in your browser. You might get this error when your connection slows down or because your browser is out of date. First, you should try clearing your browser’s cookies and cache and updating it to the latest version. If that doesn’t work, try disabling other extensions in case they’re interfering with it. Disable hardware acceleration if it’s enabled. If nothing else gets the job done, try another browser.

Error code: 232404

You might get this error when trying to play a .mov or .wmv video file in a browser and the video in question does not use the H264 codec. It’s a signal the video format isn’t supported. The solution is to either try a different video player or use a digital video forensic tool capable of converting the video to a different format. The Ultra Transcoder feature of VIP 2.0 has got you covered in this regard. In case the video is broken, it will also attempt to repair it for you.

Error code: 230000

This error code indicates an unknown error has occurred while handling HLS media. Make sure that you’re not using an ad blocker or anything that could potentially interfere with playback.

Error code: 102630

When you try to launch a video in your browser and you get this error, it means that the browser failed to find a source file to be played. It can also appear due to a glitch in the media player you’re using, so try reinstalling or updating it to the latest version.

Is there a way to avoid dealing with this?

With proper forensic data extraction methods, we can avoid damaging or corrupting the files. Apart from this, always make sure to:

  • Backup the file before making any changes to it
  • Use the latest media software for playing videos and keep it up to date
  • Don’t force file format/extension changes, properly convert the video instead
  • Use video editing tools wisely and stick to supported software whenever possible
  • Don’t shut down or restart the PC while the video is playing
  • Have an antivirus installed, keep it up to date, and run it regularly
  • Update your graphics and audio drivers every once in a while
  • Keep your OS up to date

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Always make a backup copy before permanently altering the file.

How to recover deleted, lost, or fragmented video

Depending on the exact cause of the issue, there are various methods a forensic video analyst can use to repair video footage that has been corrupted, deleted, or otherwise damaged. However, note that the rate of success depends on the state and/or quality of the file and the software you’re using for the job. If you’re not 100% sure what you’re doing, you could do more harm than good.

To recover a fragmented file, we use a technique called file carving. This is a slow and often expensive process that requires specialized software. It’s based on probabilistic algorithms designed around the “hit or miss” principle. Think of it like assembling a jigsaw puzzle: during the process, a digital forensic analyst will attempt to reassemble the pieces to recreate the big picture.

For restoring deleted and corrupted files without compromising the integrity of the footage, your best bet is using a digital forensic solution capable of video extraction and recovery. VIP 2.0 is completely push-button, allowing you to perform complex video file recovery tasks without requiring any kind of technical knowledge. At the same time, it can also handle other digital forensics tasks such as video enhancement, retrieval, and analysis, all under one roof.

Conclusion

During a forensic investigation, you’re bound to run into several obstacles, including the errors described above. Otherwise, the job would be too easy! Fortunately, modern technological advancements have made dealing with these far simpler than what was possible in the past.

Thanks to cutting-edge digital forensic solutions such as VIP 2.0, many of these can not only be diagnosed but also resolved automatically without you having to lift a finger, thus saving valuable time and resources during the process.

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