How can I play .avi movies? please help!


macrumors regular
Original poster
May 27, 2006
Washington D.C.
Hey everyone,

After switching from my PC to a MAC I have alot of movies stored on my computer in .avi format. I am currently using VLC but when I play the movie I get an "error ffmpeg: more than 5 seconds of late video -> dropping frame (computer too slow ?)" every so often, especially when I try to track through the movie to a certain part.

Does anyone know what this means. I am running on a 12" PB 768mbRam and 1.5Ghz. I should inform you I am also hooked up to a external monitor and playing the movie on that monitor.

Any suggestions?? Any other players out there better than VLC for playing .avi's?



macrumors 68000
Jan 22, 2003
In your head.
I have a 1Ghz 12" PB.

There are a lot of threads about this subject.

One List is Here

Quick Time and AVI A thread.

Use the search feature if the threads I pointed you to don't help. Others will chime in.

Below is my semi-recycled AVI rant.

Problems in decodeing AVI files are not flaws with Quicktime, VLCD, WMP, what ever. It's a flaw with the AVI format, or at least it's implementation by thoes that encode the media. The frustration is that this MS format can be just about any kind of media file, and thoes that use the format don't always think about their audence, or where to point people to get the plug-ins.

Some AVI files have special "characteristics" and are designed to work with special pay or advertising services. Some of these codecs are not available for general use- both encodeing and decodeing. And example of this may be protected edcutational materials or pay/addware porn media.

Below will explain why there is no universal encoder or decoder for AVI files.

AVI = Audio Video Interleave file format, it's really an envelope for stuffing audio and video in together. As far as I know, no other standards* are included with the format. The codecs needed to decode the AVI file, are actually the important part of the media player, and normal are some sort of plug-in. Technically, any audio/video file could be made AVI, and it should be easy to turn any AVI file into its native format by decompressing* the file and by removing the header and footer. In the header it states that it is an AVI file with a string of hex, then in it states the decompression routine/codec needed, then information needed by the decoder, and then the rest of the media data should follow.

There is also no guarantee as to the content of the file that is it could contain a text file, an exe, or something other than audio and video information. Hey, it’s already told the computer that it is a media file, so what’s to worry. ;) So a tricky little person could design a codec...better yet a codec and a special player. This player uses the codec to play the AVI files and display advertising, guarantee your age, or delete the file afterwards- what ever. This could be good for both you and the company. They could even send statistics back to some company that could better target you, though the email your provided – adware. Or worse yet, they could build up trust with anybody using the codec and player, and then one day, it gets a movie that contains a bit of malicious code that the player executes while a person watches some interesting content.

All of this aside, the AVI idea is really noble. It allows technology and compression technologies to move forward and it allows information about how to decode (and to get the decoder) the file to be included in the media. It allows enterprising programmers to utilize the format as part of a content delivery system that can incorporate DRM or features to insure its content is what the creator intended. It also allows irritating little nits to use social engineering in conjunction with software to screw with people’s information and data (in other words people may install Trojan software thinking that they are installing a simple codec). For now, this kind of social and software engineering is targeted at Windows users.

That why not all AVIs have plug-ins for QT or WMV (Which is now the Flip4Mac plug-in for QT or VLC. They may not see OS X as a market, or they don't wan't to deal with OS X.

VLC invites developers to add codecs to it library. QT might be a little shy in incorporating proprietary codecs for legal reasons. I also don’t know if Apple courts codec developers, QT is already pretty big.

In short you will have to find some sort of codec, plug in or not, and specific for the AVI encoder used. In the short term, make sure that your players are up-to-date.

(*I don’t think it provides for any compression standards)

Note: I'm lazy I wrote most of the above on this thread and reposted it here again.


macrumors 603
Aug 15, 2001
The Cool Part of CA, USA
umdjb said:
After switching from my PC to a MAC I have alot of movies stored on my computer in .avi format. I am currently using VLC but when I play the movie I get an "error ffmpeg: more than 5 seconds of late video -> dropping frame (computer too slow ?)" every so often, especially when I try to track through the movie to a certain part.
So basically, it's working fine except when VLC coughs up these errors? If so, then all you really need to do is tell VLC to shut up, though I can't remember exactly which preference it is that supresses warnings like this (VLC's preferences are horribly confusing).

If you want an alternate method to play, get the latest DivX downolad for quicktime, install it, and in all likelihood QuickTime will now play 95% of the AVIs you throw at it (unless they're really OGM files with the wrong extension, and VLC plays those fine). Throw in the 3ivX codec, and you're up to 98%. If you also install the Flip4Mac codec (it's free if you get it through Microsoft's Mac download site), you can also watch most WMV and ASF files without issue.

Really, there are a lot of fancy things you can do, but with those three codecs Quicktime can handle almost anything and VLC will handle the rest.

Doesn't even sound like you're having a problem with VLC other than that it's coughing up erroneous warnings that are annoying.