If you’re getting an error message on your computer while playing back a video you shot on a GoPro Hero7 or Hero6 Black, it might be the codec GoPro uses to save your video files and incompatibility with your computer or device. GoPro uses HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) also called H.265 coded in some or all of their video modes, depending on your GoPro or settings. (Check this list for more information)
First of all, HEVC is a codec which lets you save high-quality videos such as 2.7k and 4k video files by using less memory on your storage card while still maintaining the video quality.
HEVC has been around for a few years now and is the successor of the old H.264 codec. However, compatibility and implementation are not as widespread as with the older H.264 codec.
A list with compatible devices can be found on the GoPro website.
Here are a few examples of compatible devices:
- Galaxy® S7 / S7 Plus, Galaxy Note 8 and newer
- LG G5 and newer
- OnePlus® 3 and newer
- Pixel / Pixel XL and newer
- Huawei P9 and newer
- iOS 11 devices using the Apple® A10 processor and newer: iPhone® 6 (select bitrates only), iPhone® 7 and 7 Plus, iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, iPhone® X, Xs, Xs Max, iPad 10.5-inch iPad Pro®, 12.9-inch iPad Pro
- MacOS: HEVC is supported on macOS High Sierra computers using the A10 processor and newer (basically Macbooks and iMacs build in 2016 or later)
- Windows: Computers running Windows 10 and Intel Kaby Lake (or equivalent) processor and newer. (Computers built in 2016 or later)
I am running on the predecessor of Intel Kaby Lake, the Intel Skylake and have no issues playing back the content on my PC. Skylake already includes HEVC playback but performance of this feature was increased drastically with the Kaby Lake. You might need a dedicated graphics card and not just the Intel onboard graphics card. My system uses a Nvidia GeForce GTX1070. According to GoPro’s website, Quik for Desktop will still copy the HEVC video files to your hard drive but won’t display them in your library if you run an unsupported operating system. However, if you run a supported operating system but older hardware, you might have issues with playback. This means that I run according to GoPro a supported operating system but not supported hardware. The only app however having issues with playback of these files is Quik itself. Other apps like Windows Media Player, Windows Movies & TV, and VLC can play back the video just fine.
Identify your Intel Processor
As mentioned, GoPro suggests running Intel Kaby Lake/AMD Ryzen processors or newer versions. So how do you identify your processor?
There are two ways to look up your processor. On Windows 10 open your device manager by typing “Device manager” into the Windows start menu. Once you have the device manager open, search for the category “Processors”. If you have an AMD processor you can read which one you have, but with Intel, it’s a bit more cryptic. Look at the processor and the first number after the hyphen. See the example below it shows an i7-6820HK CPU. The first number after the hyphen is a “6” which means this is the 6th Generation of processors also called Skylake. For optimum support, you want to see there either a number 7xxx or higher. More information about Intel’s processor numbering.
The easiest way is to install a little and free tool called CPU-Z. It gives you a whole lot of information about your processor and your systems hardware configuration. Look in the field “Code Name” to see what processor you have. In my example below I am running a “Skylake” processor.
Additional Issues in Windows (10)
You might run Windows 10 and try to playback the content in Windows Movies & TV and you get a message that you need the HEVC Extension which you have to buy from the Microsoft Store for $0.99. See screenshot below.
Don’t buy this extension, there is a free alternative available also in the Microsoft Store and from Microsoft as well. The only difference seems to be if you want to encode back into HEVC that only the $0.99 version of the extension will work. I haven’t tried it in either one.
GoPro Quik for Desktop crashing
If you don’t have either extension installed and you try to play back an HEVC file in Quik for Desktop it will just freeze and not work anymore. So try the free extension first and see if it works. It could be that your hardware is outdated enough and it won’t even work with the HEVC extension.
You recorded in HEVC but now you can’t play back the files. There are a few ways to fix this issue and they also depend on what you want to do with the video.
1. Upload to Youtube
Many video streaming websites, like Youtube, support HEVC out of the box and you can upload the file right from your computer, even tho you can’t open it. If you just want to do minor edits and are happy with the video out of the box, this is the easiest option. You can also download the video again from youtube in their standard codec.
2. Convert it to another format
There are many free tools available to convert your video files to another format. You can use Handbrake to convert your HEVC videos to H.264 video format which is supported pretty much on any devices right now. Be aware that you will lose some quality during the conversion process. Besides Handbrake, you can also use the Desktop-Version of VLC (not the one from the Microsoft Store) to convert your videos.
If you are planning on further processing your video with software like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere Pro, you should convert your files in a high-quality format you can work with like Apple’s ProRes 422 codec or Avid’s DNxHD. There are many other codecs out there and it is quite a mess to keep an overview. Same is true for the transcoding software you want to use to convert your HEVC to another format. I don’t know a good free or open source solution for that, but there are some good but paid programs out there like Adobe Media Encoder (Trial Version available). It can handle HEVC files to convert it to another format. Once you use Media Encoder for the first time, you will see a prompt to install the HEVC codec, click ok and you are good to go.
3. Use alternate Playback software
Besides having software which relies on the operating system to have the necessary codecs, you can also use video players which come with their own codecs and support for HEVC. The best and also free player available is VLC media player.
Download VLC straight from their website and don’t use the one on Microsofts App Store, as this one has limited features. However, both versions can play back HEVC files without the HEVC Extension installed in Windows 10.
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.