How to fix GoPro Footage that Doesn't Play

Posted by Mark Kirschenbaum on

My team and I typically mount GoPro's on objects we are sure will get destroyed after we throw them out of a plane. Be it poker tables, bathroom setups, cars, or pianos; the GoPro footage we get from these objects impacting the ground is worth the $300 cost of the camera. To us, GoPros are semi-disposable and even better, the footage normally is salvagable!

(Photo: GoPro Screen Grab courtesy Joe Jennings)

This is a guide on how I've been able to recover GoPro footage over the past few years. It takes some skill, a few utilities and some perserverance; but the footage is worth it. 

(Photo: Sik Nik)

Automatic way to fix GoPro Footage

The easiest way is to simply use the Video Repair Software from Grau GmH. I've used it a few times for critical footage and its amazing and worth the price!

Manual Steps to fix GoPro Footage

1) See if the card is readable. If it is, continue on. Otherwise see if a MBR repair utility will get the card back up and working.

2) Copy the corrupt file over locally and see if it plays at all with VLC

3) Knowing the mode the file was recorded in use the utility as described here

The command line typically looks like:

perl c:\gopro\ c:\gopro\GOPR0752.MP4 -reso r5

This gets the file working again but it is still formatted a little bit weird. If the file plays with vertical lines try a different camera mode like r3. (sometimes I do not remember what mode I was recording in)

4) Run the file through (MAC Utility) and seperate the video from the audio tracks. Rename the file as .MP4 

5) Import this footage into your movie editor such as Sony Vegas and re-render it using the same settings as the video file (ex: 720/60fps make the project 720/60fps and render as such too). This re-encapsulates it and makes it work with all tools. Sony Vegas may take longer than normal to edit, be patient and don't do any tweaking. We are just getting the footage to re-encapsulate. Take your time, it will work!

6) Congrats! You recovered some killer footage out of a gopro!

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