A few weeks ago I participated in a three-camera shoot of a concert using two 7Ds and a 550D. When I tried to transfer the files to a computer, I was shocked to discover that two of the files were corrupt. Worse still, they happened in the same scene from two different cameras, which also happened to be the most important song of the concert. What horrible luck. I have been shooting with DSLRs for quite some time, and I have never had a corrupt file, much less two on the same night, at the same time, on two different cameras! I immediatly began to research how to fix them, but found the info on the internet to be a bit lacking. I hope this post will give someone with the same problem a slightly easier time.
Repairing Quicktime files for $
One clue that the data was salvagable was that, even though Quicktime (or any other program for that matter) couldn't open them, the files were of an appropriate size (about 2GB). The first solution I found was a program called Treasured from Aero Quartet. I downloaded it for free, ran it on one of the files and it immediately showed me the recovered frames. It was only then that I realized that you have to pay per file with this solution. I have read online that people have had good results with this program and you only pay if they can fix the file but I thought if Treasured can show me the frames, there must be a way to fix it for free.
Repairing Quicktime files for free
After some time I found two free methods which worked for me. The first is very simple, but only worked for one file. What perplexed me about the corrupt file from my camera (the 550dD) was that I had watched it in the camera the night before. I put the chip back in, and sure enough, the file that would not play in Quicktime played back in the camera perfectly. On both the 7D and the 550D you can trim videos in the camera. I trimmed a frame or two from the heads and tails and chose the option to save a new file. Bingo! The new file played back perfectly in Quicktime. Excited, I put the file from the 7D on to my SD card, but the 550D couldn't read it. I had my friend try the same thing from the original CF in her 7D, but the 7D was unable to read the file as well. Damn.
Eventually I found another solution: A free program called HD Video Repair from a company called Grau GbR. The program looks complex, but really is quite simple. You select the file you want to fix and as well as a reference file (which is a non-corrupt quicktime from the same camera). You then click "Scan" and wait. It is hard to tell that it is doing anything once you click scan, but be patient it is working. The program seems like it was relatively quickly hacked together, so it lacks some polish. Eventually, the filename will appear in the space below the scan button. By default, the repair file will go to a folder called repaired in the same location as the corrupt file. The resulting repaired Quicktime still seemed to have some codec glitches in my case, but converting it to ProRes seem to fix that. The audio was also out of sync, which I imagine is fixable in the advanced settings, but since I am using an external recording anyway, it didn't matter to me. HD Video Repair is Donationware
Repair Corrupt Quicktime Files for Free by:
- Trimming the files a little in your Canon DSLR and saving a new
- Using HD Video Repair Utility from Grau GbR
Repair Corrupt Quicktime Files at a Price