IMPORTANT: Don’t Lose Access to Older Media in macOS

by Larry Jordan

With the release of macOS Mojave (10.14), Apple is continuing its conversion to 64-bit applications that it first began many years ago. Surprisingly, this conversion also affects older media codecs which are not 64-bit compatible.

CODEC: A mathematical algorithm that converts light and sound into binary ones and zeros to allow us to store media in a computer and play it back. There are codecs for stills, audio and video, each optimized for different tasks.

What this change means is that if you try to play media which is saved using one of these older codecs in the next version of the macOS AFTER Mojave, your media WILL NOT PLAY!

This is because codecs are like mini-applications that require support from the operation system in order to convert the binary data of our media files into sound and light. Older 32-bit codecs won’t have the support they need to play, which means you lose access to any media stored in one of these older formats.

These older codecs include:

  • Avid DNxHD / DNxHR
  • Avid DV / DV100 / JFIF / Motion JPEG
  • CineForm
  • Flash Video
  • Motion JPEG A
  • Motion JPEG B
  • And many others.

You may have seen the ominous, but vague, warning in Final Cut Pro about legacy media. This morning, Apple updated their macOS KnowledgeBase website to include MUCH more detail on what codecs are affected and which ones are not.

Here’s the link: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT209000

WHAT THIS MEANS

The short answer is that we need to convert any older media using soon-to-be-dead codecs into a codec that is more future-proof.  These include:

  • Apple ProRes
  • AVCHD
  • AVC-Ultra
  • DV (in all its flavors)
  • REDCODE RAW
  • XAVC
  • And many others – see Apple’s link for the complete list

NEXT STEPS

For all future projects, take a look at the currently supported codec list and make sure you are shooting in a format that will be supported in the future. (Apple’s webpage lists these and there are a lot of them.) For past projects that are stored using an expiring codec, you need to think about converting your media files into something that will last for the long-term. (This continues to reinforce our past conversations that archives need to be actively managed, they can’t just sit on the shelf.)

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Read more over at LarryJordan.com, including what Apple is doing to help, and how Avid and Adobe are approaching the change. Plus what you should know in order to safeguard your legacy media.

About James DeRuvo 757 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

2 Comments

  1. One additional tip – even the system itself is becoming “incompatible”.

    If you are NOT running Mojave in your live environment and you decide to “test the waters”, please do so on a non-work assigned system. Mojave automatically shifts any volume that it is installed onto the new APFS filesystem. Any data that you place onto such a drive will not be recoverable on even a High Sierra system, so be sure that any testing data is a COPY and not an original or you stand to lose access to that data if you decide that Mojave is NOT for you. Even High Sierra can’t retrieve data off of the Mojave APFS disks directly. If you attach an APFS disk to a Sierra or earlier system, the OS will ask to initialize the drive as blank.

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