Friday, October 7, 2011

Convert Geovision Security Videos In Linux

   A local small business was robbed recently. The owner asked me to get the security camera footage off their system, which is running some ancient version of Geovision on obsolete hardware, and convert it into a format the police could view on their systems. I don't know about more recent versions of Geovision, but this install saved the videos in some wacky format like Indeo or something which not even VLC could play. After some searching I found a quick one-liner to batch convert the Geovision videos to a more common format using Mencoder, the video encoding part of Mplayer.


While Geovision runs on Windows I didn't want to tie up the slow decade old computer the business was using with a transcoding job using software like VirtualDub, which can apparently convert Geovision videos as well. Instead I used my Linux laptop and mencoder.

The one-liner is simple enough. When converting videos from a Geovision security camera system to a more common format uisng mencoder in Linux, open up a terminal, then go to the directory that contains the files you want to convert and run following -

"find . -type f -exec mencoder {} -ovc lavc -o {}.mpg \;"

to batch convert the files into something which should play in video players like VLC.

With a current install of mencoder everything worked and I got a folder filled with video files. The ones with the double file extensions were the converted ones, and I copied those to a flash drive after testing them with VLC.

I included a Windows portable apps version of VLC on the flash drive I saved the converted videos to before handing it off, so that if the files didn't playback in Windows Media Player they would at least have some way to see the contents.

I imagine there's a better or more commonly used format that I could have converted the videos into, but being in a rush to get the evidence to the authorities I didn't have time to look into video codecs and containers as much as I would have otherwise. If you know what options I should have run mencoder with to get better results, let me know in the comments.

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