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We have a teacher that has a project for doing some basic film editing with windows movie maker. We loaded the avi file onto the computer and Windows is trying to install a codec but can't. I assume I need to install some type of codec pack. I'm looking for suggestions on a codec pack that I can easily deploy through a Win2003 server to WinXP clients.

Ideally, this codec pack shouldn't break anything else and be easily removed if need be.

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You mention that you loaded the avi file. Where did it come from. Did it come from a video camera, or what? Randomly suggesting codec packs isn't going to be any value to you if we suggest something that doesn't include the codec you need. –  Zoredache Jun 8 '10 at 21:04
    
Need Xvid but of course I'm looking for a codec pack as well to avoid any future problems. Popular and common codecs would be nice to install as well. –  testguy Jun 8 '10 at 21:12
    
Installing codec packs for their own sake is not a good idea, you can easily get conflicts which are very hard to diagnose and fix. Best to install only the bare minimum specific codecs that you need. –  JamesRyan Jul 17 '10 at 18:50
    
You also need to be careful with the legalities here. Many codecs are patent-encumbered, and the decoders require a license. Even though XVID, FFMPEG, etc. include MPEG4/H.264 and other codecs as open source code, there are no patent licenses included. Here there be dragons. If a codedc didn't come with a commercial piece of software (such as Windows itself, or something like Nero), it is probably unlicensed. Installing it even in an educational setting is opening yourself up to a lawsuit. –  rmalayter Jun 1 '11 at 12:54
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3 Answers

Ideally, this codec pack shouldn't break anything else and be easily removed if need be.

If you really want to make sure you don't break anything, you shouldn't install any codec pack. Download MediaInfo and use it to analyze your .avi and see what exact codec is being used. This way you can install only the specific codec you need.

Alternately, you could use a video converter (MediaCoder works with tons of different formats and codecs) and convert the source from .avi to .wmv. This way 1) none of the student machines will need additional codecs and 2) it'll be in the format that Microsoft products prefer anyway.

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Download K-Lite and throw it on a network share that is accessible from the computer accounts you want to deploy it to. Then create a startup script that runs this

\\server\share\klcodec.exe /verysilent /norestart

If you need to customize it more, simply run klcodec.exe -makeunattended to generate an unattended answer file

Link to k-lite: http://www.codecguide.com/download_kl.htm

Edit:

Might want to add something to the prvious script. It wouldn't be a bad idea to check if it's already installed before installing it. This won't be perfect, but it should work on 99% of your computers:

IF NOT EXIST "C:\Program Files\K-Lite Codec Pack" \\server\share\klcodec.exe /verysilent /norestart

If you have 64 bit machines in your environment (which I don't have, so I'm winging this a bit), then it might look like this:

IF NOT EXIST "C:\Program Files\K-Lite Codec Pack" IF NOT EXIST "C:\Program Files (x86)\K-Lite Codec Pack" \\server\share\klcodec.exe /verysilent /norestart

Not pretty...I know...but it works most of the time

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Rather than messing with codecs, try using VLC. Its free, and plays virtually anything.

www.videolan.org/vlc/

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Unfortunately, the teacher won't be able to edit videos with that and he has his lesson plans drawn up around using windows movie maker. –  testguy Jun 8 '10 at 21:13
    
The teacher can edit the file with whatever SF he wants. I was assuming that s/he would do the editing on that one machine and you could play it back on any of the XP machines using VLC... Oh sorry i thought that you were editing a file and then pushing out the results for viewing. Didnt realize that you planned to edit on all the computers. Sorry –  rumz Jun 8 '10 at 22:00
    
Actually I should have been more clear. He's planning on having his students do a film editing project and having them do the editing on the computers. The teacher and I were doing a test run before he had the class go at it. –  testguy Jun 8 '10 at 22:05
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