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ffmpeg is a powerful tool for video conversion.

Recording Screencasts

Screencasts are basically animated screenshots and therefore a very nice way of illustrating things. Here is how to record them using ffmpeg:

ffmpeg -f x11grab -r 25 -s 1024x768 -i :1.0 -c:v huffyuv screencast.mkv

Encoding Videos

This is rather a howto than some detailed illustration of what ffmpeg does or what one may do with it. Actually, this is how I currently encode DVDs:

Input Files

For quicker access, data from DVD should be ripped to disk first, e.g. using vobcopy -m. Since ffmpeg expects input to consist of a single file, DVD tracks contained in multiple VOB files have to be combined - which is actually pretty simple:

cat VIDEO_TS/VTS_NN_{1..Y}.VOB >input.vob

Single-Pass Encoding

In case output size is not as important, single-pass encoding is the way to go. Output quality may be adjusted by specifying different presets. In general, the command looks like this:

ffmpeg -i input.vob [magic options here] output.mkv

My choice of video codec is x264, using a preset of slower or veryslow. Tuning for film should not hurt, and a quality setting of 20 is decent:

-c:v libx264 -preset veryslow -tune film -crf 20

For audio, I use AAC with variable bit rate. Setting VBR mode to 3 results in 48-56 kbps/channel (man ffmpeg-codecs for details):

-c:a libfdk_aac -vbr 3

Extracting subtitles is easy, the MKV format allows for embedded subtitle streams just as VOB does:

-c:s copy

In order to have the right subs being displayed by default, mkvpropedit comes in handy. For instance, use the following to set the default flag of track 3:

mkvpropedit --edit track:3 --set flag-default=yes output.mkv

Simple Encoding to Webm

ffmpeg -ss 00:37:30 -i input.mp4 -to 00:01:55 -codec:v libvpx -vf scale=-1:480 -an output.webm

This will:

  • skip to offset 37m30s in input.mp4
  • encode for 1m55s
  • encode to VPX codec (usually used for webm)
  • scale to yres of 480, keeping aspect ratio (-1)
  • drop audio input (-an)

Concatenating Videos

A quick and easy way to concat videos without re-encoding is to use the concat format specifier:

$ cat mylist.txt
file '/path/to/file1'
file '/path/to/file2'
file '/path/to/file3'

$ ffmpeg -f concat -safe 0 -i mylist.txt -c copy output.mp4
util/multimedia/ffmpeg.txt · Last modified: 2020/11/18 14:38 by phil