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troubleshooting QuickTime errors with After Effects CS5, CS5.5, CS6, and CC

There are a few entangled issues relating to QuickTime and After Effects, so I thought that it might be a good idea to clarify some of them and suggest some solutions.

Covered here are some causes of the following:

  • “QuickTime is not installed on this system…” warning message
  • “You have at least one output module template that refers to a missing output plug-in…” warning message
  • “file ‘[file name].mov’ cannot be imported – this ‘MooV’ file is damaged or unsupported.”
  • “Error reading frame from file ‘[file path and name].mov’. (86 :: 2)”
  • “[file path and name].mov”. An output module failed. The file may be damaged or corrupted. (-1610153464)
  • some causes of crashes or hangs when initializing MediaCore

making sure that QuickTime is installed

First, the most basic thing: Make sure that QuickTime is installed. As you can see in the After Effects system requirements, QuickTime 7.6.6 or later is required for current versions of After Effects.

You can download QuickTime 7.x from the Apple website.

If you have QuickTime 7.6.6 or later installed and you get an error that says that “QuickTime is not installed on this system…” or “You have at least one output module template that refers to a missing output plug-in…”, then the real troubleshooting begins.

conflict with Apple DVCPROHDVideoOut QuickTime component

The QT32 Server process that After Effects uses to communicate with QuickTime can crash because of a bad interaction with the QuickTime video out system when the Apple DVCPROHDVideoOut QuickTime component is installed.

See this post for more details about this issue and solutions for it.

blockage of TCP communication with QuickTime

One possible cause of After Effects reporting that QuickTime is not installed is a blockage in the communication between After Effects and the Adobe QT32 Server, which is a component that After Effects uses to communicate with QuickTime. (This is necessary because there is not yet a 64-bit version of QuickTime.) After Effects uses TCP to communicate with QuickTime, but some aggressive firewall software and other security software can block the TCP communication.

See this document for some more information about this issue, and see this forum thread for some more information including reports of success in unblocking this communication.

I’ve even seen non-security software such as FileMaker and AirServer (as well as some malware, as mentioned here) block this communication by taking up the port that is needed. This is one more reason to not run software other than that required by your work while you’re using professional post-production software.

failure of QuickTime to load because of a bad importer component

Another reason that After Effects can fail to recognize QuickTime is that QuickTime can fail to initialize fully because it gets stuck loading a badly written importer component. If you have any AVI importers/codecs on your Mac, this could be the issue.

The way to test to see if this is the problem is to remove the importer components (codecs) from your QuickTime folder and see if the problem persists. Here’s a forum thread that goes into some detail about that.

QuickTime failure because of out-of-date AJA or BlackMagic components

If you use AJA or BlackMagic hardware, you must make sure that you have the most recent versions of drivers and QuickTime components. Old versions of these components can cause problems with import and export of QuickTime assets, as well as problems with RAM preview and other functionality in After Effects.

AJA has recently released new software, as has BlackMagic.

permissions problem with preferences folder or corrupt preferences

Yet another cause of After Effects and QuickTime failing to communicate is a problem with permissions for files in the After Effects preferences directory. To force After Effects to rebuild the preferences directory and set the permissions correctly (as well as reset any corrupt preferences), quit After Effects, remove the following folder, and then restart After Effects:

  • (Mac OS) [drive]/Users/[user_name]/Library/Preferences/Adobe/After Effects
  • (Windows) [drive]Users[user_name]AppData/Roaming/Adobe/After Effects

The issue might also be with permissions for a folder outside the After Effects permissions folder. This seems to especially be the case on Mac OS. To ensure that all Adobe applications can write to their preferences files, set the entire Adobe preferences folder and its contents to be read/write, not just read-only:

  • (Mac OS) [drive]/Users/[user_name]/Library/Preferences/Adobe/
  • (Windows) [drive]Users[user_name]AppDataRoaming/Adobe

QuickTime failure because of conflict with audio drivers

We have also seen cases in which QT32 Server crashes when conflicting audio drivers were installed and the Audio Hardware preferences in After Effects were set to use one of those devices.

To see if this is the problem for you, set your Default Device in Preferences > Audio Hardware to the System Default or Built-in outputs and see if your problem with QuickTime files continues.

If this works, then you should troubleshoot your audio devices: Completely remove the drivers for any audio-related devices, including capture cards and software that creates virtual audio devices (some screen capture and screen sharing software use SoundFlower, which was involved in the reported case); and then re-install the latest drivers for these devices one by one and test for the problem in After Effects.

QuickTime failure because of its inability to work with large number of processes

QuickTime will often fail on computers with a large number of processors (CPUs), including computers with a large number of virtual processors created through hyperthreading. This is especially a problem with Apple’s H.264 exporter component within QuickTime.

To get around this problem, disable hyperthreading or reduce the number of processor cores available to QuickTime.

This document on the Adobe website describes how to do this.

Anything else?

If none of these solutions helps with errors that you’re getting related to QuickTime and After Effects, come to the After Effects user-to-user forum, and we’ll help you there—and I can add more information to this page as we come up with other solutions.

Do not ask for troubleshooting help in the comments of this blog post. It’s much harder to have a useful conversation in the comments of a blog post than on a discussion forum.

After Effects, General, Region of Interest