FFmpeg

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Summary help replacing me
This article attempts to walk users through the installation, usage and configuration of FFmpeg.

FFmpeg is command-line driven collection of tools which enables the decoding, encoding, conversion and playback of most audio and video streams.

Package installation

FFmpeg is part of the official Arch Linux [extra] repository.

# pacman -S ffmpeg

Encoding examples

VOB to any container

Concatenate the desired VOB files into a single VOB file:

$ cat VTS_01_1.VOB VTS_01_2.VOB VTS_01_3.VOB VTS_01_4.VOB > Transformers.3.Dark.of.the.Moon.VOB

Or concatenate and then pipe the output VOB to FFmpeg:

$ cat VTS_01_1.VOB VTS_01_2.VOB VTS_01_3.VOB VTS_01_4.VOB > Transformers.3.Dark.of.the.Moon.VOB | ffmpeg -i ...

x264 Lossless

The ultrafast preset will provide the fastest encoding and is useful for quick capturing (such as screencasting):

ffmpeg -i input -vcodec libx264 -preset ultrafast -qp 0 -acodec copy output.mkv

On the opposite end of the preset spectrum is veryslow and will encode slower than ultrafast but provide a smaller output file size:

ffmpeg -i input -vcodec libx264 -preset veryslow -qp 0 -acodec copy output.mkv

Both examples will provide the same quality output.

Single-pass MPEG-2 (near lossless)

Allow FFmpeg to automatically set DVD standardized parameters. Encode to DVD MPEG-2 at a frame rate of 30 frames/second:

ffmpeg -i 13.Assassins.VOB -target ntsc-dvd -sameq 13.Assassins.mpg

Encode to DVD MPEG-2 at a frame rate of 24 frames/second:

ffmpeg -i 13.Assassins.VOB -target film-dvd -sameq 13.Assassins.mpg

Single-pass x264 (very high-quality)

threads=0 = automatically detect and select the appropriate number of threads:

ffmpeg -i Transformers.3.Dark.of.the.Moon.VOB -acodec libmp3lame -ab 256k -vcodec libx264 -preset veryslow -crf 15 -threads 0 -x264opts frameref=15:fast_pskip=0 Transformers.3.Dark.of.the.Moon.mkv

tune option should be set to match the type and content of the of media being encoded:

ffmpeg -i 13.Assassins.VOB -acodec libmp3lame -ab 256k -vcodec libx264 -preset veryslow -tune film -crf 15 -threads 0 -x264opts frameref=15:fast_pskip=0 13.Assassins.mkv

Two-pass x264 (very high-quality)

Audio deactivated as only video statistics are recorded during the first of multiple pass runs:

ffmpeg -i Transformers.3.Dark.of.the.Moon.VOB -an -vcodec libx264 -pass 1 -preset veryslow -threads 0 -b 3000k -x264opts frameref=15:fast_pskip=0 -f rawvideo -y /dev/null

Container format is automatically detected and muxed into from the output file extenstion (.mkv):

ffmpeg -i Transformers.3.Dark.of.the.Moon.VOB -acodec libvo-aacenc -ab 256k -ar 96000 -vcodec libx264 -pass 2 -preset veryslow -threads 0 -b 3000k -x264opts frameref=15:fast_pskip=0 Transformers.3.Dark.of.the.Moon.mkv

Two-pass MPEG-4 (very high-quality)

Audio deactivated as only video statistics are logged during the first of multiple pass runs:

ffmpeg -i Transformers.3.Dark.of.the.Moon.VOB -an -vcodec mpeg4 -pass 1 -mbd 2 -trellis 2 -flags +cbp+mv0 -pre_dia_size 4 -dia_size 4 -precmp 4 -cmp 4 -subcmp 4 -preme 2 -qns 2 -b 3000k -f rawvideo -y /dev/null

Container format is automatically detected and muxed into from the output file extenstion (.avi):

ffmpeg -i Transformers.3.Dark.of.the.Moon.VOB -acodec copy -vcodec mpeg4 -vtag DX50 -pass 2 -mbd 2 -trellis 2 -flags +cbp+mv0 -pre_dia_size 4 -dia_size 4 -precmp 4 -cmp 4 -subcmp 4 -preme 2 -qns 2 -b 3000k Transformers.3.Dark.of.the.Moon.avi
  • Introducing threads=n>1 for -vcodec mpeg4 may skew the effects of motion estimation and lead to reduced video quality and compression efficiency.
  • The two-pass MPEG-4 example above also supports output to the MP4 container (replace .avi with .mp4).

Determining bitrates with fixed output file sizes

  • (Desired File Size in MB - Audio File Size in MB) x 8192 kb/MB / Length of Media in Seconds (s) = Bitrate in kb/s
  • (3900 MB - 275 MB) = 3625 MB x 8192 kb/MB / 8830 s = 3363 kb/s required to achieve an approximate total output file size of 3900 MB

Preset files

Creating presets

Populate ~/.ffmpeg with the default preset files:

$ cp -iR /usr/share/ffmpeg ~/.ffmpeg

Create new and/or modify the default preset files:

~/.ffmpeg/libavcodec-vhq.ffpreset
 vtag=DX50
 mbd=2
 trellis=2
 flags=+cbp+mv0
 pre_dia_size=4
 dia_size=4
 precmp=4
 cmp=4
 subcmp=4
 preme=2
 qns=2

Using preset files

Enable the -vpre option after declaring the desired -vcodec

libavcodec-vhq.ffpreset

  • libavcodec = Name of the vcodec/acodec
  • vhq = Name of specific preset to be called out
  • ffpreset = FFmpeg preset filetype suffix
Two-pass MPEG-4 (very high quality)

First pass of a multipass (bitrate) ratecontrol transcode:

ffmpeg -i 13.Assassins.2010.mpg -an -vcodec mpeg4 -pass 1 -vpre vhq -f rawvideo -y /dev/null

Ratecontrol based on the video statistics logged from the first pass:

ffmpeg -i 13.Assassins.2010.mpg -acodec libvorbis -aq 8 -ar 48000 -vcodec mpeg4 -pass 2 -vpre vhq -b 3000k 13.Assassins.2010.mp4
  • libvorbis quality settings (VBR)
  • -aq 4 = 128 kb/s
  • -aq 5 = 160 kb/s
  • -aq 6 = 192 kb/s
  • -aq 7 = 224 kb/s
  • -aq 8 = 256 kb/s

Volume gain

Change the audio volume in multiples of 256 where 256 = 100% (normal) volume. Additional values such as 400 are also valid options.

-vol 256  = 100%
-vol 512  = 200%
-vol 768  = 300%
-vol 1024 = 400%
-vol 2048 = 800%

To double the volume (512 = 200%) of an MP3 file:

ffmpeg -i example.mp3 -vol 512 loud-example.mp3

To quadruple the volume (1024 = 400%) of an Ogg file:

ffmpeg -i example.ogg -vol 1024 loud-example.ogg

Note that gain metadata is only written to the output file. Unlike mp3gain or ogggain, the source sound file is untouched.

Extracting audio

$ ffmpeg -i The.Kings.Speech.mpg
Input #0, avi, from 'The.Kings.Speech.2010.mpg':
Duration: 01:58:28.96, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 3000 kb/s
Stream #0.0: Video: mpeg4, yuv420p, 720x480 [PAR 1:1 DAR 16:9], 29.97 tbr, 29.97 tbn, 29.97 tbc
Stream #0.1: Audio: ac3, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16, 384 kb/s
Stream #0.2: Audio: ac3, 48000 Hz, 5.1, s16, 448 kb/s
Stream #0.3: Audio: dts, 48000 Hz, 5.1 768 kb/s

Extract the first (-map 0:1) AC-3 encoded audio stream exactly as it was multiplexed into the file:

ffmpeg -i The.Kings.Speech.mpg -map 0:1 -acodec copy -vn The.Kings.Speech.ac3

Convert the third (-map 0:3) DTS audio stream to an AAC file with a bitrate of 192 kb/s and a sampling rate of 96000 Hz:

ffmpeg -i The.Kings.Speech.mpg -map 0:3 -acodec libvo-aacenc -ab 192k -ar 96000 -vn The.Kings.Speech.aac

-vn disables the processing of the video stream.

Stripping audio

  1. Copy the first video stream (-map 0:0) along with the second AC-3 audio stream (-map 0:2).
  2. Convert the AC-3 audio stream to two-channel MP3 with a bitrate of 128 kb/s and a sampling rate of 48000 Hz.
ffmpeg -i The.Kings.Speech.mpg -map 0:0 -map 0:2 -vcodec copy -acodec libmp3lame -ab 128k -ar 48000 -ac 2 The.Kings.Speech.mkv
$ ffmpeg -i The.Kings.Speech.mkv
Input #0, avi, from 'The.Kings.Speech.2010.mpg':
Duration: 01:58:28.96, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 3000 kb/s
Stream #0.0: Video: mpeg4, yuv420p, 720x480 [PAR 1:1 DAR 16:9], 29.97 tbr, 29.97 tbn, 29.97 tbc
Stream #0.1: Audio: mp3, 48000 Hz, stereo, s16, 128 kb/s
Note: Removing undesired audio streams allows for additional bits to be allocated towards improving video quality.

Adding subtitles

FFmpeg does not currently support muxing subtitle files into existing streams. See MEncoder for subtitle muxing support.

Recording webcam

FFmpeg supports grabbing input from Video4Linux2 devices. The following command will record a video from the webcam, assuming that the webcam is correctly recognized under /dev/video0:

$ ffmpeg -f v4l2 -s 640x480 -i /dev/video0 out.mpg

The above produces a silent video. It is also possible to include audio sources from a microphone. The following command will include a stream from the default ALSA recording device into the video:

$ ffmpeg -f alsa -i default -f v4l2 -s 640x480 -i /dev/video0 out.mpg

To use PulseAudio with an ALSA backend:

$ ffmpeg -f alsa -i pulse -f v4l2 -s 640x480 -i /dev/video0 out.mpg

For a higher quality capture, try encoding the output using higher quality codecs:

$ ffmpeg -f alsa -i default -f v4l2 -s 640x480 -i /dev/video0 -acodec flac -vcodec libx264 out.mkv

Package removal

pacman will not remove configuration files outside of the defaults that were created during package installation. This includes user-created preset files.

Additional resources