FFmpeg is a free and open-source software project consisting of a large suite of libraries and programs for handling video, audio, and other multimedia files and streams. At its core is the FFmpeg program itself, designed for command-line-based processing of video and audio files. It is widely used for format transcoding, basic editing (trimming and concatenation), video scaling, video post-production effects and standards compliance (SMPTE, ITU).
FFmpeg includes libavcodec, an audio/video codec library used by many commercial and free software products, libavformat (Lavf), an audio/video container mux and demux library, and the core ffmpeg command-line program for transcoding multimedia files.
FFmpeg is part of the workflow of hundreds of other software projects, and its libraries are a core part of software media players such as VLC, and has been included in core processing for YouTube and iTunes. Codecs for the encoding and/or decoding of most audio and video file formats is included, making it highly useful for the transcoding of common and uncommon media files into a single common format.
The name of the project is inspired by the MPEG video standards group, together with "FF" for "fast forward". The logo uses a zigzag pattern that shows how MPEG video codecs handle entropy encoding.
The project was started by Fabrice Bellard (using the pseudonym "Gérard Lantau") in 2000, and was led by Michael Niedermayer from 2004 until 2015. Some FFmpeg developers were also part of the MPlayer project.
In January 2018, the ffserver command-line program – a long-time component of FFmpeg – was removed. The developers had previously deprecated the program citing high maintenance efforts due to its use of internal application programming interfaces.
The project publishes a new release every three months on average. While release versions are available from the website for download, FFmpeg developers recommend that users compile the software from source using the latest build from their source code Git version control system.
Two video coding formats with corresponding codecs and one container format have been created within the FFmpeg project so far. The two video codecs are the lossless FFV1, and the lossless and lossy Snow codec. Development of Snow has stalled, while its bit-stream format has not been finalized yet, making it experimental since 2011. The multimedia container format called NUT is no longer being actively developed, but still maintained.
In summer 2010, Fiona Glaser, Ronald Bultje, and David Conrad of the FFmpeg Team announced the ffvp8 decoder. Through testing, they determined that ffvp8 was faster than Google's own libvpx decoder. Starting with version 0.6, FFmpeg also supported WebM and VP8.
In October 2013, a native VP9 and the OpenHEVC decoder, an open source High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) decoder, were added to FFmpeg. In 2016 the native AAC encoder was considered stable, removing support for the two external AAC encoders from VisualOn and FAAC. FFmpeg 3.0 (nicknamed "Einstein") retained build support for the Fraunhofer FDK AAC encoder. Since version 3.4 "Cantor" FFmpeg supported the FITS image format. Since November 2018 in version 4.1 "al-Khwarizmi" AV1 can be muxed in MP4 and Matroska incl. WebM.
On March 13, 2011, a group of FFmpeg developers decided to fork the project under the name "Libav". The event was related to an issue in project management, in which developers disagreed with the leadership of FFmpeg.
Command line tools
- ffmpeg is a command-line tool that converts audio or video formats. It can also capture and encode in real-time from various hardware and software sources such as a TV capture card.
- ffplay is a simple media player utilizing SDL and the FFmpeg libraries.
- ffprobe is a command-line tool to display media information (text, CSV, XML, JSON), see also Mediainfo.
- libswresample is a library containing audio resampling routines.
- libavresample is a library containing audio resampling routines from the Libav project, similar to libswresample from ffmpeg.
- libavcodec is a library containing all of the native FFmpeg audio/video encoders and decoders. Most codecs were developed from scratch to ensure best performance and high code reusability.
- libavformat (Lavf) is a library containing demuxers and muxers for audio/video container formats.
- libavutil is a helper library containing routines common to different parts of FFmpeg. This library includes hash functions (Adler-32, CRC, MD5, RIPEMD, SHA-1. SHA-2, MurmurHash3, HMAC MD-5, HMAC SHA-1 and HMAC SHA-2), ciphers (DES, RC4, AES, AES-CTR, TEA, XTEA, Blowfish, CAST-128, Twofish and Camellia), LZO decompressor and Base64 encoder/decoder.
- libpostproc is a library containing older h263 based video postprocessing routines.
- libswscale is a library containing video image scaling and colorspace/pixelformat conversion routines.
- libavfilter is the substitute for vhook which allows the video/audio to be modified or examined between the decoder and the encoder. Filters have been ported from many projects including MPlayer and avisynth.
FFmpeg encompasses software implementations of video and audio compressing and decompressing algorithms. These can be compiled and run on diverse instruction sets.
Special purpose hardware
Various application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) related to video and audio compression and decompression exist. Such ASICs can perform the computation for audio/video decompression or compression partly or fully to offload these from the host CPU. To make use of such an ASIC, instead of a complete implementation of some algorithm, only the API is required. There are numerous ASICs and APIs available, of which several are supported by FFmpeg.
|Firm||ASIC||purpose||supported by FFmpeg||Details|
|AMD||UVD||decoding||✓||via VDPAU API and VAAPI|
|VCE||encoding||✓||via VAAPI, considered experimental|
|Amlogic||Amlogic Video Engine||decoding||?|
|BlackMagic||DeckLink||encoding/decoding||✓||real-time ingest and playout|
|Intel||Intel Clear Video||decoding||✓|
|Intel Quick Sync Video||encoding/decoding||✓|
|Nvidia||PureVideo / NVDEC||decoding||✓||via the VDPAU API as of FFmpeg v1.2 (deprecated)|
via CUVID API as of FFmpeg v3.1
|NVENC||encoding||✓||as of FFmpeg v2.6|
Use with the FFmpeg Utility
Internal hardware acceleration decoding is enabled through the
-hwaccel option. It starts decoding normally, but if a decodable stream is detected in hardware, then the decoder designates all significant processing to that hardware, thus accelerating the decoding process. Whereas if no decodable streams are detected (as happens on an unsupported codec or profile), hardware acceleration will be skipped and it will still be decoded in software.
-hwaccel_device option is applied when the hardware requires a particular device to function especially there are several graphic cards are available.
Supported codecs and formats
FFmpeg supports many common and some uncommon image formats.
The PGMYUV image format is a homebrewn variant of the binary (P5) PGM Netpbm format. FFmpeg also supports 16-bit depths of the PGM and PPM formats, and the binary (P7) PAM format with or without alpha channel, depth 8 bit or 16 bit for
pix_fmts monob, gray, gray16be, rgb24, rgb48be, ya8, rgba, rgb64be.
In addition to FFV1 and Snow formats, which were created and developed from within FFmpeg, the project also supports the following formats:
|Group||Format type||Format name|
|ISO/IEC/ITU-T||Video||MPEG-1 Part 2, H.261 (Px64), H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2, H.263, MPEG-4 Part 2, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, HEVC/H.265 (MPEG-H Part 2), MPEG-4 VCB (a.k.a. VP8), Motion JPEG, IEC DV video and CD+G|
|Audio||MP1, MP2, MP3, AAC, HE-AAC, MPEG-4 ALS, G.711 μ-law, G.711 A-law, G.721 (a.k.a. G.726 32k), G.722, G.722.2 (a.k.a. AMR-WB), G.723 (a.k.a. G.726 24k and 40k), G.723.1, G.726, G.729, , IEC DV audio and Direct Stream Transfer|
|Subtitle||MPEG-4 Timed Text (a.k.a. 3GPP Timed Text)|
|Image||JPEG, Lossless JPEG, JPEG-LS, JPEG 2000, PNG, CCITT G3 and CCITT G4|
|Alliance for Open Media||Video||AV1|
|SMPTE||Video||SMPTE 314M (a.k.a. DVCAM and DVCPRO), SMPTE 370M (a.k.a. DVCPRO HD), VC-1 (a.k.a. WMV3), VC-2 (a.k.a. Dirac Pro), VC-3 (a.k.a. AVID DNxHD)|
|ATSC/ETSI/DVB||Audio||Full Rate (GSM 06.10), AC-3 (Dolby Digital), Enhanced AC-3 (Dolby Digital Plus) and DTS Coherent Acoustics (a.k.a. DTS or DCA)|
|Subtitle||DVB Subtitling (ETSI 300 743)|
|DVD Forum/Dolby||Audio||MLP / Dolby TrueHD|
|DTS, Inc/QDesign||Audio||DTS Coherent Acoustics (a.k.a. DTS or DCA), DTS Extended Surround (a.k.a. DTS-ES), DTS 96/24, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, DTS Express (a.k.a. DTS-HD LBR), DTS-HD Master Audio, QDesign Music Codec 1 and 2|
|Blu-ray Disc Association||Subtitle||PGS (Presentation Graphics Stream)|
|3GPP||Audio||AMR-NB, AMR-WB (a.k.a. G.722.2)|
|3GPP2||Audio||QCELP-8 (a.k.a. SmartRate or IS-96C), QCELP-13 (a.k.a. PureVoice or IS-733) and Enhanced Variable Rate Codec (EVRC. a.k.a. IS-127)|
|World Wide Web Consortium||Video||Animated GIF|
|Image||GIF, and SVG (via librsvg)|
|IETF||Audio||iLBC (via libilbc), Opus and Comfort noise|
|International Voice Association||Audio||DSS-SP|
|Microsoft||Video||Microsoft RLE, Microsoft Video 1, Cinepak, Indeo (v2, v3, v4 and v5), Microsoft MPEG-4 v1, v2 and v3, Windows Media Video (WMV1, WMV2, WMV3/VC-1), WMV Screen and Mimic codec|
|Audio||Windows Media Audio (WMA1, WMA2, WMA Pro and WMA Lossless), XMA (XMA1 and XMA2), MS-GSM and MS-ADPCM|
|Image||Windows Bitmap, WMV Image (WMV9 Image and WMV9 Image v2), DirectDraw Surface, and MSP|
|Interactive Multimedia Association||Audio||IMA ADPCM|
|Digital Video Interactive||Video||RTV 2.1 (Intel Indeo 2)|
|Audio||DVI4 audio codec|
|RealNetworks||Video||RealVideo Fractal Codec (a.k.a. Iterated Systems ClearVideo), 1, 2, 3 and 4|
|Audio||RealAudio v1 – v10|
|Apple / Spruce Technologies||Video||Cinepak (Apple Compact Video), ProRes, Sorenson 3 Codec, QuickTime Animation (Apple Animation), QuickTime Graphics (Apple Graphics), Apple Video, Apple Intermediate Codec and Pixlet|
|Subtitle||Spruce subtitle (STL)|
|Adobe Flash Player (SWF)||Video||Screen video, Screen video 2, Sorenson Spark and VP6|
|Audio||Adobe SWF ADPCM and Nellymoser Asao|
|Adobe / Aldus||Image||TIFF, PSD, and DNG|
|Audio||Speex (via libspeex), Vorbis, Opus and FLAC|
|Sony||Audio||Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding (ATRAC1, ATRAC3, ATRAC3Plus and ATRAC9) and PSX ADPCM|
|On2 / GIPS / Google||Video||Duck TrueMotion 1, Duck TrueMotion 2, Duck TrueMotion 2.0 Real Time, VP3, VP4, VP5, VP6, VP7, VP8, VP9 and animated WebP|
|Audio||DK ADPCM Audio 3/4, and iLBC (via libilbc)|
|RAD Game Tools||Video||Smacker video and Bink video|
|CRI Middleware||Audio||ADX ADPCM, and HCA|
|Nintendo / NERD||Video||Mobiclip video|
|Audio||GCADPCM (a.k.a. ADPCM THP), FastAudio, and ADPCM IMA MOFLEX|
|Electronic Arts / Criterion Games / Black Box Games||Video||RenderWare TXD, Madcow, CMV, TGV, TGQ, TQI, Midivid VQ (MVDV), MidiVid 3.0 (MV30), and Midivid Archival (MVHA)|
|Audio||Electronic Arts ADPCM variants|
|Netpbm||Image||PBM, PGM, PPM, PNM, PAM and PFM|
|MIT/X Consortium/The Open Group||Image||XBM, XPM and xwd|
|HPE / SGI / Silicon Graphics||Video||Silicon Graphics RLE 8-bit video, Silicon Graphics MVC1/2|
|Image||Silicon Graphics Image|
|Oracle/Sun Microsystems||Image||Sun Raster|
|Avid Technology / Truevision||Video||Avid 1:1x, Avid Meridien, Avid DNxHD and DNxHR|
|Autodesk / Alias||Video||Autodesk Animator Studio Codec and FLIC|
|Grass Valley / Canopus||Video||HQ, HQA, HQX and Lossless|
|Matrox||Video||Matrox Uncompressed SD (M101) / HD (M102)|
|Asus||Video||ASUS V1/V2 codec|
|Blackmagic Design / Cintel||Image||Cintel RAW|
|Houghton Mifflin Harcourt / The Learning Company / ZSoft Corporation||Image||PCX|
|Australian National University||Image||X-Face|
|Bluetooth Special Interest Group||Audio||SBC, and mSBC|
|Qualcomm||Audio||QCELP, aptX, and aptX HD|
Output formats (container formats and other ways of creating output streams) in FFmpeg are called "muxers". FFmpeg supports, among others, the following:
- AVI and also input from AviSynth
- GXF, General eXchange Format, SMPTE 360M
- HLS, HTTP Live Streaming
- ISO base media file format (including QuickTime, 3GP and MP4)
- Matroska (including WebM)
- Maxis XA
- MPEG program stream
- MPEG transport stream (including AVCHD)
- MXF, Material eXchange Format, SMPTE 377M
- MSN Webcam stream
- Segment, for creating segmented video streams
- Smooth Streaming
FFmpeg supports many pixel formats. Some of these formats are only supported as input formats. The command
ffmpeg -pix_fmts provides a list of supported pixel formats.
|Without alpha||With alpha||Without alpha||With alpha||Chroma-interleaved||With alpha|
|Monochrome||Binary (1-bit monochrome)||monoblack, monowhite||-||-||-||-||-|
|RGB||RGB 1:2:1 (4-bit color)||4bpp||-||-||-||-||-|
|RGB 3:3:2 (8-bit color)||8bpp||-||-||-||-||-|
|RGB 5:5:5 (High color)||16bpp||-||-||-||-||-|
|RGB 5:6:5 (High color)||16bpp||-||-||-||-||-|
|RGB/BGR||24/30[p 1]/48bpp||32[p 2]/64bpp||-||-||-||8bit->32bpp|
|YUV||YVU 4:1:0||-||-||(9bpp (YVU9))[p 4]||-||-||-|
|YUV 4:1:1||8bpc (UYYVYY)||-||8bpc||-||(8bpc (NV11))||-|
|YVU 4:2:0||-||-||(8bpc (YV12))[p 4]||-||8 (NV21)||-|
|YUV 4:2:0||-||-||8[p 5]/9/10/12/14/16bpc||8/9/10/16bpc||8 (NV12)/10 (P010)/16bpc (P016)||-|
|YVU 4:2:2||-||-||(8bpc (YV16))[p 4]||-||(8bpc (NV61))||-|
|YUV 4:2:2||8bpc (YUYV[p 6] and UYVY)[p 7]||-||8[p 8]/9/10/12/14/16bpc||8/9/10/12/16bpc||8 (NV16)/10bpc (NV20 a.k.a. P210)[p 9]||-|
|YVU 4:4:4||-||-||(8bpc (YV24))[p 4]||-||8bpc (NV42)||-|
|YUV 4:4:4||(10 (Y410) and 16bpc (Y416))||16bpc[p 10]||8[p 11]/9/10/12/14/16bpc||8/9/10/12/16bpc||8bpc (NV24)||-|
|XYZ||XYZ 4:4:4[p 12]||12bpc||-||-||-||-||-|
- 10-bit color components with 2-bit padding (X2RGB10)
- RGBx (rgb0) and xBGR (0bgr) are also supported
- used in YUV-centric codecs such like H.264
- YVU9, YV12, YV16, and YV24 are supported as rawvideo codec in FFmpeg.
- I420 a.k.a. YUV420P
- aka YUY2 in Windows
- Y210 (YUYV 10bpc) is not supported. UYVY 10bpc without a padding is supported as bitpacked codec in FFmpeg. UYVY 10bpc with 2-bits padding is supported as v210 codec in FFmpeg. 16bpc (Y216) is supported as targa_y216 codec in FFmpeg.
- I422 a.k.a. YUV422P
- 16bpc (P216) is not supported
- 8bpc (AYUV) is not supported
- I444 a.k.a. YUV444P
- used in JPEG2000
FFmpeg supports, among others, the following filters.
- Resampling (aresample)
- Pass/Stop filters
- Arbitrary Finite Impulse Response Filter (afir)
- Arbitrary Infinite Impulse Response Filter (aiir)
- Remove/Add DC offset (dcshift)
- Expression evaluation
- Bitcrusher (acrusher)
- Emphasis (aemphasis)
- Volume (volume)
- Dynamic Audio Normalizer (dynaudnorm)
- EBU R 128 loudness normalizer (loudnorm)
- Echo (aecho)
- Stereo widening (stereowiden)
- Increase channel differences (extrastereo)
- M/S to L/R (stereotools)
- Channel mapping (channelmap)
- Channel splitting (channelsplit)
- Channel panning (pan)
- Channel merging (amerge)
- Channel joining (join)
- for Headphones
- Delay (adelay)
- Delay by distance (compensationdelay)
- Audio time-scale/pitch modification
- Time stretching (atempo)
- Time-stretching and Pitch-shifting (rubberband, via librubberband)
- Trim (atrim)
- Silence-padding (apad)
- Silence remover (silenceremove)
- Show frame/channel information
- Show frame information (ashowinfo)
- Show channel information (astats)
- Show silence ranges (silencedetect)
- Show audio volumes (volumedetect)
- ReplayGain scanner (replaygain)
- Modify frame/channel information
- Set output format (aformat)
- Set number of sample (asetnsamples)
- Set sampling rate (asetrate)
- Mixer (amix)
- Synchronization (asyncts)
- HDCD data decoder (hdcd)
- Do nothing (anull)
- Temporal editing
- Framerate (fps, framerate)
- Looping (loop)
- Trimming (trim)
- Deinterlacing (bwdif, idet, kerndeint, nnedi, yadif, w3fdif)
- Denoising (atadenoise, bitplanenoise, dctdnoiz, owdenoise, removegrain)
- Logo removal (delogo, removelogo)
- Subtitles (ASS, subtitles)
- Alpha channel editing (alphaextract, alphamerge)
- Keying (chromakey, colorkey, lumakey)
- Frame detection
- Black frame detection (blackdetect, blackframe)
- Thumbnail selection (thumbnail)
- Frame Blending (blend, tblend, overlay)
- Video stabilization (vidstabdetect, vidstabtransform)
- Color and Level adjustments
- Histograms and visualization
- Quality measures
- Lookup Tables
- lut, lutrgb, lutyuv, lut2, lut3d, haldclut
Supported LUT formats
FFmpeg contains more than 100 codecs, most of which use compression techniques of one kind or another. Many such compression techniques may be subject to legal claims relating to software patents. Such claims may be enforceable in countries like the United States which have implemented software patents, but are considered unenforceable or void in member countries of the European Union, for example. Patents for many older codecs, including AC3 and all MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 codecs, have expired.
FFmpeg is licensed under the LGPL license, however, if a particular build of FFmpeg is linked against any GPL libraries (notably x264), then the entire binary is licensed under the GPL.
Projects using FFmpeg
FFmpeg is used by software such as VLC media player, xine, Shotcut, Cinelerra-GG video editor, Plex, Kodi, Blender, HandBrake, YouTube, VirtualDub2, a VirtualDub fork, and MPC-HC; it handles video and audio playback in Google Chrome, and Linux version of Firefox. Graphical user interface front-ends for FFmpeg have been developed, including XMedia Recode.
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