As a novice what tools do experts suggest I use to get a technical understanding of .mov container files?

I'd like to know whats inside the container and how I can get the data out safely without reducing the quality. Ideally splitting it into the various media formats detected


If you just want to look inside a video file, check its individual streams and all metadata, you can use MediaInfo, which will show you everything there is to know about your file and the streams it contains.

If you want to extract, remux or reencode the video file's streams, you can use FFmpeg. If you are not comfortable using a command-line tool, there are several GUI-based programs out there (most of which are built around FFmpeg), such as XMedia Recode.

  • Thanks for responding, I had come across ffmpeg but wasn't sure how i needed to do first. Is it possible for a .mov to include multiple camera views of the same sequence and would mediainfo show me that? – Michael Mar 4 '16 at 15:37
  • It is possible, but I haven't come across such an arrangement. Each camera angle will be present as a distinct 'stream' or 'track'. – Gyan Mar 4 '16 at 16:19
  • Mediainfo does show me the 4 video streams (ID 1,3,5,7) 4 audio streams (ID 2,4,6,8) and a timecode stream inside 1 .mov file. Is it possible to split or export (forgive me I don't know the correct term to use) so I end up with right audio with the right stream in its own file. What do I do with the timecode stream? – Michael Mar 5 '16 at 14:47

You can also try out Atomic Dumpster. It will let you view the structure of a QuickTime file, viewing the data of the various tracks and the media.


Using ffmpeg, which numbers streams starting from 0, run

ffmpeg -i input.mov -c copy -map 0:v:0 -map 0:a:0 -map 0:d video-0.mov

to extract the first audio and video + timecode into a new MOV.

Repeat for other streams by incrementing the index numbers after a and v. Retain the -map 0:d. It will copy the timecode over into each split file you make.

  • Does it matter that my audio and video stream IDs don't match? Also can I export the timecode by itself and is there a value in having it as a standalone entity as in could i use it to create a database table with 1 row per timecode? – Michael Mar 6 '16 at 20:34
  • As in 0:v:0 paired with 0:a:2? No. They are independent and simply identify the stream to be mapped. The timecode really isn't a track. It's just a binary representation of the starting TC in seconds. The video editor/player then generates the number series as per the frame rate. Running ffprobe file.mov will show that starting value. – Gyan Mar 7 '16 at 6:21
  • How do I know which audio track should be matched with each video if the id codes can't be used? Is it a case of trail and error or exporting all the video streams then all the audio streams and manually matching ? – Michael Mar 7 '16 at 16:33
  • I guess so. I would assume the person or s/w which created the file arranged the streams logically, so try first with matching IDs i.e. 0:v:2 and 0:a:2. – Gyan Mar 7 '16 at 17:01

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