Any experience with retrieving lost video from an SD card? - RC Groups
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Oct 09, 2009, 01:36 AM
Registered User

Any experience with retrieving lost video from an SD card?

Hey Guys,

I was up flying my plane today, shooting some video, when I crashed rather dramatically into a light pole (cursed depth perception!). The impact was about twenty five feet up. The right wing took the impact squarely. The plane came to a sudden halt without quite telling the camera that it was supposed to stop too. Newton prevailed, and my old panasonic lumix dmc-fx01 went flying about forty feet before landing with an unpleasant cracking sound. It was an almost comical sight if it hadn't been for the fact that it was my camera scooting through the air.

Well, it was pretty much dead on impact. It powers up, but the lens is jammed, and its useful days on earth have come to an end. Unfortunately, because of the impact the video which I was shooting was never finalized and written to the card as a complete file. I can retrieve the first video I shot, and there's a reference to the 2nd (and last) .mov file, but the file size is O kb. I tried using PhotoRec (a sd card file retrieval tool), but it just pulled up old photos, and didn't catch, or see, the video file. I've tried searching around the internet for a solution, but have come up empty, so I thought I'd give a shout out on the forums. It seems like most of the software out there is for retrieving erased or corrupted data off of SD cards. I know that the data is there on the card in some form, but I was wondering if anyone here has had any past experience with such a scenario (camera dying a violent death while shooting video)? It might not be doable, but I figure if anyone would know how to, they'd be hanging out here.

The plane, my wally-world foam glider conversion, will probably see the air again, but the camera is a loss. I've been in the hobby long enough to be philosophical about crashes, but I'd love to have that video (especially that final moment) as some small final, parting, gift from my lumix because it was a good crash!

Thanks everybody,

Last edited by blueswan; Oct 09, 2009 at 01:42 AM. Reason: typo
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Oct 09, 2009, 05:06 AM
Flying Kiwi
MisterNiceGuy's Avatar
Hi there, I have had good sucess with some file types where the movie file wasn't finalised but not with .mov files.

I am fairly sure you will have most of the video on the card but it is just a case (obviously) of recovering it and being able to write the mov file out as if it had been completed.

Needless to say, don't save anything else to the memory card (I am pretty sure you already know that!).

Will see what I can find and get back to you. In the meantime it is a good challenge for us here at RCgroups. I am hoping the brains trust can help you!
Oct 09, 2009, 05:09 AM
Flying Kiwi
MisterNiceGuy's Avatar
Maybe you could try the free version of this to see if it finds anything

then if it does we can try and figure out a way to recover it (for free!!)
Oct 09, 2009, 05:11 AM
Flying Kiwi
MisterNiceGuy's Avatar
Forget the above suggestions....I found the software I used before and it appears that it supports .mov files and it is FREE!!

It has worked perfectly for me before, I hope you get the same mileage.

Oct 09, 2009, 06:56 AM
Registered User
Hey Marc- How did it fly? I tried to r/c one of those years back but the components were too big and heavy. So much more is possible now!

Rob D.
Oct 09, 2009, 11:06 AM
Registered User
quailbird's Avatar
I have a free program called "smartrecovery" and I used it for a bad SD card for my sister-in-law. She had many pictures on there of her mother and relatives and some had passed on and she couldn't open it or get the pictures. I will say that it took all night while I slept but the next morning there were maybe over a hundred pictures the program saved. The card was no good and had to be thrown away but the pictures and videos were saved.
Oct 09, 2009, 02:18 PM
Registered User
VasMan's Avatar
Handy Recovery works well also.
Oct 10, 2009, 12:54 AM
Registered User
Thanks everybody. MNG, I tried the digital image recovery program you provided the link for. Much to my excitement, it recovered several .mov files. Unfortunately, and as you suggested might be the case, the .mov files are not finalized and therefor corrupt. I've tried using several different media players and converting the files with SUPER, but to no avail. After doing a lot of reading, it looks like there isn't really any piece of software, or at least free software, which will fix such a corrupted .mov file. I downloaded QT Atom Viewer which shows the video in raw, hexedecimal form. Clearly the important header and technical parameters data are missing from these rescued files. People offer commercial services which restore corrupted .mov files, but I'm not sure the clip is worth 60 bucks. While it's over my head technically, I might try fiddling around with a hexadecimal editor to see if I can restore the file myself. We'll see. If I get it, I'll make sure to pass it along to you all. Thanks a lot for the suggestions. It did allow me to get the videos off of the card.

Rob, it's hard to describe how the glider flies in simple terms. It is, or can be, an incredibly graceful flier (the swept wings are beautiful in flight), but is also a very unforgiving aircraft whose tip stalling tendencies are nasty, sudden, and have been the cause of several crashes. This is actually my second glider conversion. I have noticed that they start out as great fliers, but then start going downhill. It got really bad.... to the point that controlling the beast was a nerve racking feet of fending off the plane's constant desire to drop a wing, spin, and crash. At speed it would bank one way excessively, but slowing down would have the opposite affect. You also had to descend under power because if you didn't it would become wobbly and unstable.

Last spring, finding it almost un-flyable, I was going to give up on it. I bought and easystar, but then my TX broke and all my hobby stuff sat unused for most of the summer. After getting a TX back in my hands, I decided I wanted to try to sort out what was wrong aerodynamically with the glider. I trimmed the ailerons some near the tips and added washout to the wings. These modifications seemed to help some, but the real change - which I did just last weekend - was to take most of the dihedral out of the wing as well as add an operable rudder. The dihedral had gotten excessive with time, and I think this was the true culprit. The long and short of it: flew it on Monday and it was just a delight. It's still a little sensitive and not a beginner's plane, but it's just so beautiful in the air and an absolute delight to land. Unfortunately, three flights later I crashed it into the pole. I'm sad because the glider - a Guillows Flying Eagle - is no longer manufactured with swept wings (and the right wing is now trash). I know that the aerodynamic quirks were in part born of the swept wings, but it just looks so cool in the air (reminds me of a B-52). There was also a practical upside to the sweep: I do a lot of belly landings in rough terrain, and I found that the wings tend to deflect weeds and the like better than a straight wing, therefor leading to fewer vegetation inspired crash landings. I'm also proud to say that she flew once at 10,500 feet up in the Colorado high country. Landings were very fast, and the plane seemed to not want to slow down while on approach as a result of the reduced drag at higher altitudes. But she flew, and I got a few nice pictures.

I was going to build the EasyStar, but I realized after purchasing it that the motor mount and subsequent prop size limitations will not support my desires to go fly up in the high country (8000-11,000 feet) without taking a serious hit in the power department. We'll see, maybe it's time for some sort of franken-plane. I've got a spare Cub wing sitting around..... maybe I can mate it the glider fuselage somehow. It's also nice having a plane which I can accidentally smash into a rock on landing and not care too much about dinging up an expensive bird. We'll see what happens. I also, obviously, need a new camera. Time to get reading and researching....

Here's a video I shot with the first glider conversion before I retired it.



still twilight air (4 min 26 sec)
Oct 10, 2009, 03:26 AM
Flying Kiwi
MisterNiceGuy's Avatar
you could try viewing the file you recovered using vlc, it tends to be less fussy about the end of the least then you might get to see if it is worth trying more extreme measures (like hex editing!!)

VLC can be downloaded for free at

Oct 10, 2009, 04:02 AM
Registered User
Yup, I tried VLC. After several hours of reading tonight, I think I'm throwing in the towel. Short of going back to school for a computer science degree or paying to have it recovered, I think it's a little over my head. Apparently the .Mov format is a particularly tricky bugger if the file is not finalized. So wanted those final moments on film, but oh well. Thanks for your input, MNG.
Oct 10, 2009, 09:45 AM
Registered User
VasMan's Avatar

Most likely you won't find anything off the shelf that will allow you to recover deleted (or corrupted) files, however you can recover the files yourself. The video data you're looking for is most likely within the clumps of what appears to be useless data that you've recovered. You'll need to familirize yourself with the Quicktime movie format and what the headers look like, then use a hex editor (I would recommend HxD, although there are others) to recover the portions of data that are made up of the Quicktime video. It's a tedious job, hence the reason why data recovery services are so expensive (all manual labor for the most part), but well worth it. Over the years I have used HxD, and similar programs, to recover priceless data that most (initially including myself) would consider lost forever.

Incidently, HxD can be also used to recover data directly off the storage device, but you WILL need to know what you're looking for. You've tried the easy approach, which didn't appear to work, so now it's time for a more challenging approach - if you still want your videos.

Best of luck,


Originally Posted by blueswan
Unfortunately, and as you suggested might be the case, the .mov files are not finalized and therefor corrupt. I've tried using several different media players and converting the files with SUPER, but to no avail. After doing a lot of reading, it looks like there isn't really any piece of software, or at least free software, which will fix such a corrupted .mov file.

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