FFmpeg : record, convert and stream audio and video

Last update : August 29, 2013


FFmpeg Command Line Tool

FFmpeg is a complete, cross-platform solution to record, convert and stream audio and video. It includes libavcodec – the leading audio/video codec library.

The latest version is 2.0.1 released August 11, 2013. Version 0.6.x released in 2010 featured a lot of improvements that are relevant for HTML5 video. The H.264 and Theora decoders were significantly faster, the vorbis decoder has seen important updates and the release supported Google’s newly released libvpx library for the VP8 codec and WEBM container.

FFmpeg is free software licensed under the LGPL or GPL depending on the configuration options. Companies that violate the license terms are tracked and listed on the Hall of Shame and eventually sued.

ffdshow wrapper for Windows DirectShow

FFmpeg is developed under GNU/Linux, but it can be compiled under most operating systems. Windows distributions are available at the website ffmpeg.zeranoe.com. On Windows there are however some limitations, for instance up to now it’s not possible to capture audio in realtime.

To make the libavcodec decoders available to DirectShow-based applications (a proprietary Windows technology), you can use ffdshow. This DirectShow filter is a DirectShow-wrapper around the libavcodec (ffmpeg) decoders. Non DirectShow-based applications like Avidemux use libavcodec/ffmpeg through it’s native interface. There exist a fork of the original ffdshow project called ffdshow tryouts.

Paul Glagla developed a utility Filmerit (version 3.0.8 published on May 14, 2007) to show DirectShow filters and diagnose errors. Another similar tool called InstalledCodec (version 1.30) which allows to enable/disable codec drivers and DirectShow filters is available on the NirSoft website.

FFmpeg is a command-line based tool. There are however several graphical user interfaces (GUI) available :

  • SUPER from eRigthSoft
  • Avanti, a dedicated “workbench” for FFmpeg/Avisynth
  • HandBrake, an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder; I upgraded to version 0.9.5 in june 2011
  • WinFF, a free tool published under the GNU public license for Windows and Ubuntu

SUPER from eRigthSoft

Avanti GUI


FFmpeg or the libraries are also used by other video frameworks :

  • VLC from Videolan

A full list of all projects using FFmpeg is available on the official website.

A similar project as FFmpeg, using several components of this project, is MEncoder.

The following list provides some useful links about FFmpeg :

Dipity : make and share interactive timelines

A timeline is a graphical representation of a chronological sequence of events, also referred to as a chronology. It can also mean a schedule of activities, such as a timetable. The timelines can be drawn or digital-made.

Dipity is the easiest way to make and share interactive timelines about the people and things you care about. Created by the start-up Underlying Inc., founded by three long time Internet professionals in april 2007, the first project name T1ME was changed to Dipity (from Serendipity, the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else) in october 2007. Dipity is a fantastic time-line visualization tool which allow you to manage online media by ordering related content chronologically. By using Dipity you can create a stream that allows you to keep track of text,  pictures, videos and blog posts by adding events manually or by adding RSS feeds to automatically create events. Timelines can be embedded in your own website, the content for RSS feeds is generated in realtime. An API to develop online applications to generate events is available for developers.

An example of an embedded timeline to present the exhibitions of Leslie’s Artgallery in Bridel, Luxembourg is shown hereafter :


Dipity streams can be visualized in four views :

  • Timeline : the timeline shows everything that was added to the stream based on the time the item was published. There’s a zoom feature that allows you to zoom in and out of your timeline by day, month, or years. The longer the length of time, the smaller the timeline view will become.
  • List View : a very simple list of events in the stream
  • Flipbook : clicking on the blocks at the bottom of the window allow you to ‘flip’ through the stream.
  • Map View : powered by Google, the map view is a great tool for users that have items that are geo-tagged, or tagged with a location. This is best suited for events that are manually added to a stream rather than by rss feeds. An autoplay event show is integrated in the map view.

Dipity is also a social timeline application for Facebook to allows users “to tell their story” using a visual timeline. Dipity started in march 2008 as an alpha version. In may 2008 Dipity added the first mashup application, TimeTube, to create TubeLines. In june 2008 Tickr! ( = Time + Flickr) was launched as the second mashup application.