How to view and edit RAW Security Camera DVR Video Files *.264 – updated & streamlined.
Back in 2015, I wrote a guide for Linux users on how to convert *.264 format video streams from a security DVR into something more usable. Since then, the handbrake utility has developed new features and capabilities, so the process can be streamlined. This process was tested in Linux Mint 18.2 and will likely work in any modern Debian or Ubuntu based distribution. Handbrake also has downloads for Mac and Windows.
1. Get the video clip of the date/time frame in question. Typically a security DVR will be setup to record only when it detects motion. By searching through the recorded footage, hopefully you can find the clip containing the activity. This file can be copied to your computer via a USB thumb drive or downloaded via the application used to remote view your DVR.
2. Get and install handbrake. It’s an open source video transcoder available via Synaptic Package Manager, but there’s a newer version on the developer’s website with instructions on how to add their PPA (Personal Package Archive) to your system.
a. After install it should appear on your menu. Launch it. It’s reasonably self explanatory.
b. Select the Open Source button to pick the .264 file to be transcoded.
c. Select a Destination file and folder.
d. Check settings:
Preset 'Fast 1080p30' Format: MPEG-4 (avformat) Video Encoder: H.264(x264) Constant Framerate
e. Click ‘Start Encoding’.
You should now have a .m4v file in the destination folder that can be played or edited with most applications and sent as an email attachment viewable in gmail. Youtube will also accept this format and I’ve confirmed an iPhone gmail user can view it as well.
If you need to stitch several video clips together, take a look at one of these editors:
- Flowblade – My current choice of time-line video editors. If you’ve ever used Adobe Premiere, AVID, Final Cut Pro or similar this will be familiar. It can render high quality lossless streams.
- Kdenlive – A good time line video editor with many features and capabilities.
- OpenShot – Has multi-tracks and some creatively useful transitions.
- Pitivi – Intuitive and easy to use. If you’re not familiar with time-line video editing and just need to put some clips together for presentation, this might be the one for you.
- Kenn Ranous