Bob Jensen's Codec Saga: How I Lost a Big Part of My Life's Work
Until My Friend Rick Lillie Solved My Problem
Bob Jensen at Trinity University

The essay below is on the Web at

There are many newer 64-bit Windows 7 computers that will not playback videos compressed on computers such as my 32-bit Windows XP computer. Give your 64-bit computer a test. The most popular video I ever produced is my 133ex05a.wmv video that's still being downloaded by thousands of security analysts and auditors. Even before I purchased a new computer I was getting complaints that this video would not play on 64-bit Windows 7 computers.

Give your computer test by trying to playback the 133ex05a.wmv video at

Playback problems are also arising in videos created by millions of people other than me, especially Camtasia videos produced on 32-bit computers. The trouble is that Microsoft's set of codecs embedded in Windows 7 leaves out some important codecs in earlier versions of Windows.Many high level tech support groups still don't know how to solve this problem. For example, two days ago three Level 2 experts in the Dell Technical Support Division did not have a clue on how to solve the problem. Even though the video above would not run on my various video players such as Windows Media Player, VLC Player, Realtime, and Quicktime, Dell Level 2 technicians suggested I try three other players. None of these players corrected my problem.

Codec ---
Warning: There are many outfits on the Web that offer free or fee downloads of codecs. Don't trust any of them unless somebody you really trust informs you that these downloads are safe. Many of codec downloads carry malware malicious code that will put such things as Trojan horse viruses into your computer. One outfit even claims to playback virtually all videos without using a codec. I don't trust this company enough to even try its download. Quite a few people have downloaded the K-Lite Codec Pack, but my Sophos Security blocker would not allow this download. Friends who have the K-Lite does tell me that they still can't run many older videos in 64-bit machines that will run in 32-bit computers.

To make a long story short, a technical support expert named Ian at California State University in San Bernardino proposed a solution to the problem at the behest of my good friend and education technology expert Professor Rick Lillie.

On Thanksgiving Day Rick sent the following recommendation:

The problem is specifically an audio codec that did not come with Windows 7. Ian found a trustworthy place which provides that particular codec:

Trinity University requires that I honor a relatively tough Cisco Systems security barrier called Sophos if I want to run my files on servers at Trinity. The VoiceAge download mentioned above not only passed through my Sophos barrier, unlike the K-Lite Codec Pack, the download took place in the blink of an eye.

Now old videos play wonderfully on my new 64-bit Windows 7 laptop from Dell. However, this is a limited solution in that users around the world who do not know about this solution or an equivalent solution will either not be able to run many old videos or they will be clogging my email box. I am asking that all of you inform your tech support group about this solution. I informed the Dell Support Group.

A better solution for my hundreds of videos still being served up on the Web would take weeks of my time. Windows 7 OS 64-bit computers will play my huge uncompressed avi files that I store in my barn. It is out of the question to serve up enormous avi files that can be compressed into files that save over 90% of of storage and transmission size. However, I did experiment with recompressing a couple of avi files on my 64-bit machine. These files will playback in wmv, rm, swf, and mov formats using only Windows 7 codecs. But at this stage of my life I don't want to spend weeks of my time solving a problem that Microsoft could solve with little cost or trouble.

Why compress raw avi videos into compressed wmv, mov, mpg, rm, scf, or some other compressed versions?
The reason is largely a file size issue with raw avi videos. If I captured an avi file that is over 200 mb in size it takes up a huge amount of space on a server and takes forever to download over the Internet. By compressing it into something liike a wmv format for Windows Media Player, a mov format for Apple's Quicktime, or a rm format for Real Media, or a swf format for an Adobe Flash player, I can reduce the file size by over 90% without serious loss in video playback quality. I should, however, store the original avi file somewhere if I think I may want to edit and recompress the video in the future.

Hilarious Enron home video (originally reported by the Houston Chronicle)
A hilarious Enron home video (really made by genuine Enron executives like Jeff Skilling at Rich Kinder's resignation party) example is shown at
The raw Enron1.avi video of 201 mb is poor quality video that a friend at Villanova captured in 2003. It will take you over 20 minutes to download this avi video, but since it is in avi format it will play on my new 64-bit Windows 7 computer. When I compressed the video into an Enron1.wmv format it only takes up 20 mb of space (over a 90% savings) on the server and will download in less than two minutes.

However, until I downloaded the VoiceAge codec this wmv compressed version would not play on my new 64-bit Windows 7 computer. It always did play on my old 32-bit computer. The reason is that Microsoft left out some historic codecs for in the latest version of 64-bit computers.

In fact the problem is so severe with old 32-bit media that in Windows 7 Microsoft made the 32-bit version of Windows Media Player (WMP) the default player even though a 64-bit version is also available such that techies can, if you so choose, make the 64-bit version your default WMP ---
WMP 64-bit switch ---

However, even if you are using the default 32-bit WMP video player in your new 64-bit computer, there are historic Windows XP codecs missing such that many historic compressed videos will not play on your 64-bit computer using Microsoft's default 32-bit Windows Media Player, and that is the reason I am writing this essay today.


Camtasia Studio (for Windows and belatedly the Mac OS) ---
TechSmith's Home Page for Camtasia Studio ---

I was an early adopter of Camtasia and produced Camtasia videos on Win95, XP 32-bit, and Windows 7 64-bit computers. In the earliest days I recorded hundreds of Camtasia videos with a microphone so I could narrate while solving homework, quiz, and examination problems on my computer screen. Since many of these were textbook problems and cases  that I could not legally solve in videos  for public viewing, I served my Camtasia video solutions up on a LAN server that only my students could study. Textbook publishers would not have been happy if I put video solutions to their homework problems and cases on a public Web server.

An example of a very early homework solution video can be found at in the
PDQ05-15tEST2/PDQ05-.15tEST2.wmv file at
The mouse motion in this video begins after a minute or so. J had to dig up the original avi version recorded years ago and then recompress the avi version into a wmv compressed video on my new 64-bit, Windows 7 computer.

Some historic (e.g., 2001) compressions created on my old 32-bit computer will run on 64-bit Windows 7 computers. See for yourself by trying to run any of the sample videos at
I suspect that I recorded these sample videos at a different audio sampling rate years ago. This does show that there will be problems playing back all 32-bit computer compressions of avi files.

After some playing around I think that the problem is in the audio sampling rates that TechSmith used in compressing some of my historic videos. TechSmith did not always use the same sampling rates when compressing avi files into wmv,mov, rm, scf, and other compressed versions of avi files.

The reason for this compatibility problem is that TechSmith does not write codecs. TechSmith relies on codecs available in whatever among codecs built into the Windows operating system you're using. And Microsoft in an uncaring way did not include some of the Windows XP codecs for 32-bit computers  in its Windows 7 upgrade for 64-bit computers.

Other possible solutions 64-bit video playback solutions that I did not attempt:

Microsoft Expression ---
Some known problems with Microsoft Expression---

There are many downloads that might work that I would not trust downloading into my computer. If you want to take a chance with your 64-bit computer be my guest ---
Also see
Please let me know if you can playback the 133ex05a.wmv file using these or other solutions (if they did not infect your computer with malware)..
My playback test videos are at

My experience also tells me that there's something to being able to store your life's work in hard copy on library shelves.

One sign of getting too old is when years of a professor's work can no longer be used under current versions of hardware and software. It's a little like having a double tree for horses on a wagon in the era of tractors or an old threshing machine in the era of harvesting combines.

The real definitive sign is when your wife wants you evaluated on the PBS "Antiques Road Show."

My experience also tells me that there's something to being able to store your life's work in hard copy on library shelves.

I sure would like to know if and why some 64-bit Windows 7 computers can run the videos such as the videos at 


A Bit of History
This reminds me of when Apple used to come out with new versions of the Mac operating system that were not backwards compatible. I recall sharing a cab in Manhattan with the University of Waterloo's Efrim Boritz years ago. Efrim grumbled that Apple had destroyed years of his work by not making the new version of the Mac operating system sufficiently compatible with an updated version.

For years one huge advantage of Microsoft was insistance on making new versions of DOS compatible with older versions which led to millions of lines of code that would've been unnecessary if new versions of DOS were not backwards compatible.

That does not seem to be the case today.

Boo on TechSmith! Boo on Microsoft! Boo on Apple!

They are sometimes uncaringly destroying years of our work with new upgrades.

A sampling of Bob Jensen's videos available on the Web ---

Open sharing tutorial videos available from major universities ---

A sampling of other videos and audio available on the Web ---

Bob Jensen's threads ---