FAQ: #20050723 Crashes & Hangs



Movie Maker FAQ 1 Last updated 6th January 2005

Crashing and Hanging

1) What is a Codec?

A Codec is software that was first created to deal with the transposition of data from one form into another. One of the first important Codecs was a procedure still used today called Soundex. I believe the first proper use of Soundex was by the Mormons. Most of us use Soundex or its equivalent every time we use a spell checker. The Mormons use it in their vast database of all persons baptised by them. It enables very fast data searches on similar sounding words that are not necessarily spelled the same way. Soundex though is a one way procedure. Its a CODER The other part of the word Codec is derived from the word DECODER. Joining the two parts together we get the word CODEC...Codec.

With regard to Codecs and any Video or Audio playing software. MP3 or WMA audio files have been compressed using CODER routines. When you play those files on your computer you are using the DECODER routines to produce a sound or video signal that can be seen/heard on your machine.

With regard to Audio/Video editing software. A Codec is used to compress the data so that it occupies as small a space as possible usually on a hard drive. But in the case of editing a file the Codec must first expand the compressed data before the edit can occur and afterwards compress it again when the data is saved to a new file.

The problems with Codecs arise from "Calls" A call is the expression used to define the way one software module talks to another so that information can be passed between the two. The problem occurs when the Call is not properly formatted, or the reply is not understood. This becomes a problem that the calling software must handle. When the calling software fails to handle the error it can do one of a number of things....the correct way is to contain the error and respond with an alternative approach and possibly inform the user that the error occurred, the other approach we are all to familiar with, either the software or the machine crashes and probably taking all of your hard work with it.

2) Movie Maker crashes, what can I do?

From item one above there is a good chance that your problem arises from a problem with a Codec. Movie Maker version 2.1 was supposed to address this issue by giving you the user the ability to disable one or more of the Codecs on your machine. The problem however is not fully addressed and results in some Codecs not being exposed to the disable option. If its that particular Codec that is causing the problem you are stuck.

You need to know which Codec it is, where it is, possibly what other software installed it and what other dependencies exist. In other words you need to know a LOT of things. The proper way of dealing with the issue would be to remove the offending Codec but that's not very practical as you may really need the other software that depends on it.

There is a temporary solution available in the form of a program called "Rename Codecs" It has been in use for perhaps a year now by many hundreds of people and with great success. There have been a total of 6 times that the program did not solve the users problem (At the time of writing this) You can obtain your FREE copy of the program from www.the-kellys.org The basics of the program are that it will offer you the option of temporarily renaming Codecs that are known to be a problem for Movie Maker. You would do that before using Movie Maker. Once you are finished using the program you again run Movie Maker and use the RESTORE option to put those Codecs back into operation...its very easy to use.

There is an additional option. You can use the options within XP to turn off the various levels of video acceleration that your graphics card has. Doing this is not a good idea but if you do you must understand that every program that relies on those abilities will either run badly or not at all. To turn the acceleration down right click your desktop and select PROPERTIES, then SETTINGS then ADVANCED and then TROUBLERSHOOT. You will then see a slider bar which should normally be positioned on the far right. You can move it one step at a time and then close the dialog down and re-try Movie Maker. You can repeat those steps until (and if) Movie Maker works properly.

A lot of video programs give you the opportunity of taking a snap shot of the video displayed, Intervideo WinDVD 5 does a good job of this. Movie Maker also has this option. BUT, if you turn the acceleration down as above, you will no longer be able to take those snapshots. This is not a great problem of course as you can change the acceleration back. But it is rather tedious.

3) How do I make my system perform better and stop Movie Maker crashing

This is by far the best way of doing things. Whilst the Rename Codec program is a MUST when you really do need to keep "other" software on your system, the following approach will ensure that your system runs at its best speed and will be less likely to crash at all from Video or Audio problems.

You need to download the latest versions of DirectX and the Windows Codecs pack together with the latest version of Windows Media Player. You should NOT try to install these packages via the Internet, you should get the standalone versions. The reason is obvious once you know it. Suppose those updates you did some time back are not working properly...it may be that they were not installed properly or it may be that a file is either corrupt or simply missing. How would you know??? The more experienced may spot the problem but the average user will not. So why download the full package??? That's easy. When you unzip a package several checks are made to ensure the integrity of the files inside the zip. If there is a problem you will be told there and then...the file is corrupt or damaged in some other way....you do not need to trust an install over the Internet and the possibility of data being missed....

You can get the packages via these links...

Codec Pack


Windows Media Player

Movie Maker for XP

The link for Movie Maker is actually a link to SP2 (Service Pack 2). This a large download. Its not to bad if you have a reasonably fast broadband connection, but if the download fails its a long way back to the start!!! Personally I would recommend you obtain A CD version of SP2...its available on the Windows Magazine and from Microsoft directly

Drivers for your graphics card
I have discovered that most people are confused on the issue of drivers for their graphics card in that when advised to acquire the latest driver they go straight to the Microsoft website and get one from them. Their is a problem with that in that the drivers supplied by Microsoft are Generic.

I made the mistake of going direct to Microsoft some time back and the result was that I could only run the machine in the basic "Safe Mode" the driver was the most up to date and was definitely more recent than the existing driver. It took some time to understand what was going on I must admit......

The graphics card was an NVidia GForce 4 etc and was manufactured by Gainward. After several attempts at getting the Microsoft driver to install I decided that the download MUST BE corrupted in some way, So I went to the NVidia website and downloaded their driver (Same version number as the one from Microsoft) I had the exact same problems!!! In the end I went to the Gainward website and downloaded the most up to date driver they had.....once installed the graphics card performed better than ever and with more configuration options than I would ever need.

So why did an older driver work better than the most recent from NVidia ??? Its simple when you know why .... Gainward produce high capability cards and in order to achieve some of their aims they change the way the NVidia chipset works. This requires a modified driver....and they produce their own. The card is still based on the NVidia and conforms to the basic design....but it runs very much faster because of code optimisation, and that optimisation is missing from the Microsoft or NVidia drivers.

The result of all this is that you should ALWAYS go to the website of the MANUFACTURER of the card and not the manufacturer of the chipset (in my case NVidia)

The Method
Reboot your computer and install SP2. After the install has completed you should reboot your computer twice...yes boring but desirable

After the reboot you should now install the DirectX pack and reboot again.

After that reboot install the Codec Pack and reboot yet again.

After that install Windows Media Player and reboot again

Finally install the latest driver for your graphics card.

Rebooting the machine does perform an important task. It completes installation process's and ensures that previously existing file locks are removed. Under certain conditions XP will not overwrite a file if it has been locked. Note that this is not the same as marking a file as Read Only.

Windows XP Video Decoder Checkup Utility

This utility can be obtained here...


A very useful program but with a problem. It reports that I have the MGI MPEG-2 Video Decoder on one of my machines...I have NO MGI software on my system!!

I would not let that put you off using it as it does have a useful purpose even though the same objective can be achieved via other already existing routes within XP. I am in favour of this program as it does give good advice on which Codec you should select as the preferred Codec

4) What files does Movie Maker NOT like?

Any MPEG based file will cause Movie Maker problems even though they seldom cause problems for Media Player. There are a number of reasons...Media Player does not need the CODER part of the Codec and there are many methods/procedures/algothims used to Code an MPeg file and its that wide range of methods that Movie Maker can not address. Its not really a bug but the method of dealing with the issue, well there is no method...Movie Maker gives an error and crashes or it just crashes. The particular file extensions are Mpeg, MPG and MP3.

JPeg still images can also be a problem and for similar reasons to MPeg files. There are a number of formats for a JPeg and it seems that the older formats are not properly dealt with. To work around the issue you can reduce the compression used in creating the JPeg and NOT use the progressive format method

The best solution for these problems is to convert the file into a more acceptable format, and as it happens a format that is more easily worked on by Movie Maker...the conversion you should employ are

MPeg, MPG convert to AVI, MP3 convert to WAV and JPeg, JPG convert to a standard bitmap BMP


There are several other approaches you can take to solving a Codec issue. I have seen several other methods of solving the problem, and basically they don't. Instead they treat the symptom and not the problem itself. Several other methods involve damaging the picture of your computers layout (that's a bad pun by the way) and simply doing that involves the risk of permanent damage to that picture.

The program Rename Codecs also damages that picture of your system but it does at least provide a user friendly way of restoring your system and that method requires no prior knowledge on your part about where, which and how to make those changes.

All efforts are made to ensure that the information is accurate. As no one is perfect I would be happy to hear of any errors found in this document (send an e-mail to (e-mail address removed)). If you have any doubts at all over following the advice given here you should NOT attempt it.

The contents of this FAQ are liable to change with out prior notification.

The Webmaster
Check out the Free Video and Stills Hosting at The Kellys
Coming soon Get your Personal News Distributor (PND from www.the-kellys.org

John Kelly


This FAQ will now be posted at irregular intervals dependent on the number
of new threads created since the last post.

The contents of the FAQ will be changed when the need arises.

Best Wishes.....John Kelly

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