Open Source to the Rescue... Again. The EX_M4S2 Codec

by Derrick Story

My version of Christmas morning these days is when I open my mailbox or RSS reader and discover that someone in the open source world has solved a nagging software problem. My latest joy was delivered by emonkid who created the EX_M4S2 QuickTime Component under the GNU license. This piece of software enables a beautiful union between my Mac and the amazing Casio EX-P505 hybrid camera.

I fell for this camera at this year's PMA show and bought one as soon as it was available. In my review of the EX-P505, I discussed a cobbled work around for Mac users to deal with the amazing, but stand-offish M4S2 Codec. Casio uses this codec to capture full frame, full motion video (that is only a notch below DV) on a standard SD card in their digital cameras.

The problem was that my default player, QuickTime, could not decode the video component. This destroyed my workflow. I catalog my movies in iPhoto 5 (which uses QuickTime to play them) and use QT editing tools to build my movies. Thank goodness for ffmpegX and the VLC Media Player that allowed me to work with my movies at all.

OK, fast forward to earlier this week. emonkid posted a talkback to my Casio EX-P505 review notifying us of his QuickTime component. I checked it out right away, and after a bit of testing, found it to work beautifully. I wrote him to thank him for his efforts.

He replied that 3 months ago he had bought a Mac mini. It was his first Macintosh. Then his old digicam broke, so he bought a CASIO EX-Z750. At first he didn't have any problems because he knew that he could play M4S2 movies by using MPlayer or VLC on his Mac. But then he realized that he couldn't use iPhoto to manage his video.

So he built his first QuickTime component referring to sample code on Apple's site with help from the FFmpeg (libavcodec) that's included in MPlayer (more open source goodness!). He said one of his biggest challenges was to change the component into a bundle and attach an icon.

If you're using the M4S2 codec with Casio cameras on a Mac, visit emonkid's site and grab his QuickTime component. Be sure to drop him a line and thank him too. He wants to work on other projects, so maybe you can help.

This software is the missing link that connects a great camera to Mac OS X, QuickTime, iPhoto, Final Cut, and more. And it was created by an independent developer who embraces open source ideals.


2005-06-20 15:03:38
Pentax Too...
Just got a confirmed report that the QuickTime component works for the Pentax Optio too...
2005-12-27 14:36:17
Problem viewing M4S2 video persists
It was great to find the M4S2 quicktime component from emonkid. I quickly installed on 2 Macs and it worked great. On the third, the problem persists. I noticed another 3ivx file was in the quicktime library folder so I removed it, but to no avail. Tried reinstalling quicktime, restarting, etc.

With the 3ivx file installed along side, I get what you would normally get trying to play a M4S2 file without the quicktime component installed (black/distorted video). When I remove the 3ivx file, I get a white screen with good sound. Tried uninstalling 3ivx, but still get a white screen.

Any ideas?

Shahzad Ahmed
2006-03-08 09:44:20
Thanks for this. I work for Apple and had a customer who required to play M4S2 files using Quicktime. Having researched everywhere on our internal database for supported codec, I was unable to find one. My last resort was to perform a search in Google and hey presto I came across this website. Advised the customer to download the codec and it worked; customer very happy and singing my praises - thank you!
2006-03-18 07:29:30
The old version works for me (1.0.3), but alas the newer one doesn't (v. 2.0.0).