These are the basics of the video processing tool “ffmpeg”.

Check FFmpeg documentation for all the info.

Table of Contents

Encode a video (using h264/libx264 codec) quickly

  ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c:v libx264 -preset veryfast -crf 22 output.mp4
  • -preset has several possible values (depends on codec used), faster encoding means less CPU load and less compression.
  • -crf stands for “Constant Rate Factor” and this is the recommended rate control mode for most uses. A lower value generally leads to higher quality, and a subjectively sane range is 17–28 (23 is the default).
  • You can add -f <format> to force a format for the output file (e.g.: -f mp4).

Encode several videos (Bash loop)

  for i in *.mp4;do ffmpeg -i $i -preset ultrafast ${i/.mp4/_new.mp4};done
  for i in *.mp4;do ffmpeg -i $i -preset ultrafast output/$i;done

Overwrite output file if exists

  ffmpeg -y -i input.mp4 output.mp4

Extract audio from video

  ffmpeg -i video.mp4 -vn sound.mp3

Remove audio

  ffmpeg -i video.mp4 -an output.mp4

Cut a video

  # from mm:ss to mm2:ss2
  # e.g.: from 00:12 to 00:15 (3 seconds)
  ffmpeg -ss mm:ss -to mm2:ss2 -i video.mp4 output.mp4
  # from mm:ss, end when passes mm2:ss2
  # e.g.: from 00:12, ends after 00:03 (3 seconds)
  ffmpeg -ss mm:ss -i video.mp4 -to mm2:ss2 output.mp4
  • If you use -codec (e.g.: -codec copy), add it after -i video.mp4.

Speed up / slow down a video

  # speed up to 2x
  ffmpeg -i video.mp4 -vf setpts=0.5*PTS fast.mp4
  # slow down to 0.5x
  ffmpeg -i video.mp4 -vf setpts=2*PTS slow.mp4

Change the resolution

  ffmpeg -i video.mp4 -s 1280x720 output.mp4

Capture frames

Capture a video frame (at mm:ss) and change its resolution.

  ffmpeg -ss mm:ss -i video.mp4 -frames 1 -s 1280x720 -f image2 image.png

Capture one frame per second of the video.

  ffmpeg -i video.mp4 -r 1 -f image2 image%d.png

Capture a frame from a video device (webcam, etc.).

  ffmpeg -i /dev/video0 -frames 1 -f image2 image.png

Join several videos (using a list file)

  1. Create a text file with the filenames.

    # list.txt
    file video1.mp4
    file video2.mp4
  2. Run ffmpeg:

    ffmpeg -f concat -safe 0 -i list.txt output.mp4
    • Using -codec copy will probably not work.

Change brightness, contrast or gamma (‘eq’ video filter)

  ffmpeg -i video.mp4 -vf "eq=contrast=1.5" output.mp4

Stabilize a video

See How to stabilize a video using ffmpeg.

Test with this online terminal:

If you have any suggestion, feel free to contact me via social media or email.