Thursday, November 26, 2015

Fix for Sony HDR-CX430V video playback on Plex


About a year ago I upgraded my old Sony CX7 camcorder to a new Sony HDR-CX430V model.  The old CX7 recorded in 1440x1080i and was having trouble focusing, while the new CX430 supported full 1080p @ 60fps and also included Sony's 'pro-level' Balanced Optical SteadyShot.


I have the Plex media-server app running on my home PC and serving-up all of my home videos, mostly from the old CX7 but also various smartphone videos etc.  I love Plex!  It rescued me from years of fussing with HTPC, XBMC, MPC-HC and on and on.  Now, I can simply load the Plex viewer on my Samsung smart TV and everything 'Just Works'.

Except that the new Sony recordings wouldn't play.  The issue turned-out to be the specifics of the h.264 video recordings.  The CX430 was recording 1080p @ 60fps with h.264 L4.2 encoding but the Samsung was only capable of decoding L4.0.  What's more, the Plex server was only able to transcode up to L4.1 (not confirmed but that's been my experience).  So all those new L4.2-encoded videos now need to re-encoded -- a lot of work since I've been using the camcorder for about a year now.


The long-term solution is to switch the record mode from 60p to 24p / Standard.  I found this option in the MENU under Image Quality > 60/MP4/Std > 24p > Standard.  A quick test reveals that the 24p recordings use L4.0 encoding.  And, finally, I confirmed that they playback correctly on my Plex/Samsung combination.
I don't think these encoding specs are listed in any of Sony's manuals.