Saturday, September 02, 2023

Easy 10-bit video support on Windows

This brief article will help you with the fact that Microsoft Windows does not, by default, view or play 10-bit video files produced by cinema cameras. Free solutions are easy, but not obvious. Have you ever asked yourself...

  • Why can't I see icons for my video file in Windows Explorer?
  • Why won't my video application play my video files?
  • How can I see full technical information for my video files?

Read on for solutions.

Microsoft Windows is made for the everyday user and hence doesn't come complete with tools for professionals. Support for 10-bit video is one such case. But appropriate tools are just a click away, with many being free and open source. That's the case for each solution in this article.

Display thumbnails in Windows Explorer

Install Icaros and run the configuration when prompted. You'll see something like the following.

This screen allows you to target the files you wish Icaros to handle. I simply chose the preset "Video" (highlighted in the screenshot above). This won't immediately change your Explorer view, because the icons are cached for efficiency. Click "Thumbnailing" to turn Icaros off. Then click this again to turn the app back on. This clears any cached thumbnails. 

You should now see thumbnails like the following in Explorer.

Use a different video player

VLC is the most popular video player, but it won't work with 10-bit video out of the box. Alternative video players will work immediately. I recommend the feature-rich and free Potplayer, produced by Korean firm Kakao.

Once a file is opened, tap Ctrl-F1 or choose "Playback/System Info" from the File menu. This provides detailed information on the various streams in your file. 

Another option is mpv, which has a minimal interface and rather manual installation process.


If you prefer to stick with VLC you must make two changes in the Preferences. First, go to the Input & Codecs tab and disable "Hardware-accelerated decoding", as shown below.

Next, go to the Video tab and change the "Output" to "OpenGL video output for Windows". Other people recommend "OpenGL video output" but this is incorrect, as you will then lose the mouse cursor when over the main application window.

View technical information for video files

Install MediaInfo. Now you can use the context menu in Explorer to get info on your video files. Simply right-click and choose MediaInfo. (In Windows 11 you need to choose "Show More Options" to see the customised menu.)

The interface is highly configurable, but the default view is useful. I do prefer the Potplayer display, however.

A better Explorer

Truth be told, I never use Windows Explorer. It's a poor way of managing files. Depending on the task, I use several powerful alternatives. 

For media I recommend Faststone Image Viewer. This supports a large number of file formats, including photo RAW. Even better, it will display the thumbnails for video files we generated using Icaros.

More help

If you are still not able to see your video files, you can try installing the K-Lite Codec Pack. This comes in various packages, but the simplest/smallest is all you need.

Hopefully this article is sufficient for most readers. For more detailed help on these topics, please check YouTube videos and other resources. 


No comments:

Post a Comment