My condo complex was burglarized last week and I've been tasked with retrieving the video from our security system to provide to law enforcement. The system is an older DVR (DiViS DVR - warning: PDF link to user manual. In the past there have been issues with police being able to read the DVDs we provided them. I'm beginning to see why.
The DVR runs on a Windows XP machine with camera recording software. The videos themselves are stored in a proprietary binary format, so I need to use the software that comes with it in order to export video.
The software has 3 options for exporting video: AVI, MP4, and MP4+EXE. None are particularly great.
AVI generates an enormous AVI (Uncompressed RGB) that isn't usable. The video becomes choppy, and numerous players and codec tools have issues with the file. The videos are essentially useless.
MP4+EXE generates an EXE that is an embedded player. The video looks fine, but the player controls are awful (you can't skip around, and if you begin to fast forward you're stuck at that speed until you quit the app). It's nearly unusable.
MP4 produces a highly compressed MP4 file (very quickly - this must be the native storage format). When I try to play it at home, the colour streaks badly and occasionally VLC will error and have to close the file. Looking in the user guide linked above, they say this about the file:
DiViS AVI file (.mp4) format which only can be viewed by DiViS AVI Viewer.
On the manufacturer's site they say this about the codec:
Using proprietary MPEG-4 Codec, a technology developed by our company, you can compress real-time image quickly without the noise and screen distortion.
So their codec is largely MP4, but clearly modified from the standard. It explains why I can sort of play the videos on my PC (using a standard MP4 codec).
So I'm left thinking my best option here is to transcode the MP4. By installing viewer software from the manufacturer (it's identical to the one built into the MP4+EXE), I can play the MP4 files on my PC. It's not registering the codec for Windows, however - the videos still don't play correctly in VLC.
In the viewer's install directory is an MP4CODEC.DLL. This seems to be what I need to properly decode the file. It's not, however, a documented DLL and appears to be obfuscated (W32Dasm looked like gibberish when I loaded the DLL). Unless there's a way I can try to register this DLL as my MP4 codec in Windows, I don't think I can do anything with the DLL.
I'm left with a video playing clearly on my PC provided I use their proprietary player. Are there any tools I can use to capture the video from the program and dump it into a more usable h264 AVI? I'd like to avoid screen capture software.
If that can't be done, can anyone suggest another strategy?