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FFmpeg Logo new.svg
FFmpeg running on Microsoft Windows
Original author(s) Fabrice Bellard
Developer(s) FFmpeg team
Initial release December 20, 2000; 14 years ago (2000-12-20)[1]
Stable release 2.6.1 (March 16, 2015; 15 days ago (2015-03-16)[2]) [±]
Preview release Git [±]
Development status Active
Written in C and Assembly[3]
Operating system Windows, OS X, and Linux; may be compiled for other OSes.[4]
Platform x86, ARM, PowerPC, MIPS, DEC Alpha, Blackfin, AVR32, SH-4, and SPARC; may be compiled for other desktop computers
Type Multimedia framework
License LGPL 2.1+, GPL 2+
Unredistributable if compiled as such[5]
Website ffmpeg.org

FFmpeg is a free software project that produces libraries and programs for handling multimedia data. FFmpeg includes libavcodec, an audio/video codec library used by several other projects, libavformat, an audio/video container mux and demux library, and the ffmpeg command line program for transcoding multimedia files. FFmpeg is published under the GNU Lesser General Public License 2.1+ or GNU General Public License 2+ (depending on which options are enabled).[6]

Legal aspects[edit]

FFmpeg contains more than 100 codecs,[7] most of which do not just store uncompressed data. Most codecs that compress information could be claimed by patent holders.[8] Such claims may be enforceable in countries like the United States which have implemented software patents, but are considered unenforceable or void in countries that have not implemented software patents like in the European Union.


The project was started by Fabrice Bellard[6] (using the pseudonym "Gerard Lantau") in 2000, and has been maintained by Michael Niedermayer since 2004. Many FFmpeg developers are also part of the MPlayer project. The name of the project comes from the MPEG video standards group, together with "FF" for "fast forward".[9] The logo uses a zigzag pattern that shows how MPEG video codecs handle entropy encoding.[10]

FFmpeg is developed under GNU/Linux, but it can be compiled under most operating systems, including Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, as well as AmigaOS and its heir MorphOS. Most computing platforms and microprocessor instruction set architectures are also supported, like x86 (IA-32 and x86-64), PPC (PowerPC), ARM, DEC Alpha, SPARC, and MIPS.[11]

FFmpeg version 0.5 appeared after a long time without formal releases. Meanwhile the project approximately publishes a new release every three months to be used by "distributors and system integrators", but FFmpeg developers recommend that users compile the software from source using the latest neutral build from their source code Git version control system.[12]

There were two video codecs and one video container invented in the FFmpeg project during its development. The two video codecs are the lossless "FFV1", and the lossless and lossy Snow codec, the development of which has stalled, while its bit-stream format hasn't been finalized yet, making it experimental for now (February 2011), and the multimedia container is "NUT," also no longer being actively developed, but is still maintained.[13]

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.[14][15] Starting with version 0.6 FFmpeg also supported WebM and VP8.[16]

On March 13, 2011 a group of FFmpeg developers decided to fork the project under the name "Libav".[17][18][19] The event seems related to a recent issue in project management.[20][21] Since then, the maintainer of FFmpeg packages for Debian[22] and Ubuntu[23] operating systems, being one of the group of developers who forked FFmpeg, has switched them to the fork. As of 10 November 2013 Debian Developer Rogério Brito moved to reincorporate FFmpeg into Debian and Ubuntu, with user support.[24][25]

In October, 2013, a native VP9[26] and the OpenHEVC decoder, an open source High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) decoder, were added to FFmpeg.[27]

On January 10, 2014, two Google employees announced that over 1000 bugs have been fixed in FFmpeg during the previous two years by means of fuzz testing.[28] FFmpeg 2.5 released in December, 2014, supports an MPEG-DASH muxer.[29]


The project comprises several components:

  • ffmpeg is a command-line tool that converts audio or video formats. It can also grab and encode in real-time from a TV card.
  • ffserver is an HTTP and RTSP multimedia streaming server for live broadcasts. It can also time shift live broadcast.
  • ffplay is a simple media player based on SDL and on the FFmpeg libraries.
  • ffprobe is a command-line tool to show media information (text, CSV, XML), 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 the FFmpeg audio/video encoders and decoders. Most codecs were developed from scratch to ensure best performance and high code reusability.
  • libavformat 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 and MurmurHash3), ciphers (DES, RC4, AES, XTEA, Blowfish, CAST-128, Twofish and Camellia), LZO decompressor and Base64 encoder/decoder.
  • libpostproc is a library containing 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.

Codecs, formats and protocols supported[edit]

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, gray8a, rgba, rgb64be.


For more details on this topic, see libavcodec.

In addition to FFV1 and Snow codecs, which are born from FFmpeg, the project implements:

Group Format type Format name
ISO/IEC/ITU-T Video MPEG-1 Part 2, H.261,[30] H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2, H.263,[30] MPEG-4 Part 2, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, HEVC/H.265[27] (MPEG-H Part 2), Motion JPEG
Audio MP1, MP2, MP3, AAC, HE-AAC, MPEG-4 ALS, G.711 µ-law, G.711 A-law, G.721 (aka G.726 32k), G.722, G.722.2 (aka AMR-WB), G.723 (aka G.726 24k and 40k), G.723.1, G.726, G.729 and G.729D
Subtitle MPEG-4 Timed Text (aka 3GPP Timed Text)
Image JPEG, JPEG-LS and JPEG 2000
EBU Subtitle Spruce subtitle (EBU STL)
SMPTE Video VC-1 (aka WMV3), VC-2 (aka Dirac), VC-3 (aka AVID DNxHD) and DPX image
Audio SMPTE 302M
DVD Forum/Dolby Audio MLP / Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital (aka AC-3)
Subtitle DVD-Video subtitles
Blu-ray Disc Association Subtitle PGS (Presentation Graphics Stream)
3GPP Audio AMR-NB, AMR-WB (aka G.722.2)
GSM and CDMA Audio Full Rate (GSM 06.10), Enhanced Variable Rate Codec (EVRC)
World Wide Web Consortium Subtitle WebVTT
DVB Subtitle DVB Subtitling (ETSI 300 743)
Microsoft Video Microsoft RLE, Microsoft Video 1, Cinepak, Indeo (v2, v3 and v5),[30] Microsoft MPEG-4 v1, v2 and v3, Windows Media Video (WMV1, WMV2, WMV3/VC-1)
Audio Windows Media Audio (WMA1, WMA2, WMA Pro and WMA Lossless) and MS-GSM
Subtitle SAMI
RealNetworks Video RealVideo 1, 2, 3 and 4
Audio RealAudio v1 – v10
Subtitle RealText
QuickTime Video Cinepak, ProRes, Sorenson 3 Codec, Animation codec, QuickTime Graphics, Apple Video
Audio QDesign Music Codec 2 and ALAC
Adobe Flash Player (SWF) Video Screen video, Screen video 2, Sorenson 3 Codec, VP6 and Sorenson codec
Audio Adobe SWF ADPCM and Nellymoser Asao
Xiph.Org Video Theora
Audio Speex (via libspeex), Vorbis, Opus and FLAC
Subtitle Ogg Writ
Sony Audio Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding (ATRAC1, ATRAC3 and ATRAC3Plus)[30][31]
NTT Audio TwinVQ
On2 / Google Video Duck TrueMotion 1, Duck TrueMotion 2, VP3, VP5,[30] VP6,[30] VP7, VP8, VP9[26]
RAD Game Tools Video Smacker video and Bink video
DSP Group Audio Truespeech
RenderWare Video TXD[32]

The default MPEG-4 codec used by FFmpeg for encoding has the FourCC of FMP4.

Container formats[edit]


Open standards
SFTP (via libssh)
Microsoft MMS over TCP and MMS over HTTP
RealMedia RTSP/RDT

Projects using FFmpeg[edit]

FFmpeg is used by application software such as VLC media player, MPlayer, xine, HandBrake, Plex, Blender, YouTube,[40] and MPC-HC,[41] as well as DirectShow such as ffdshow and LAV Filters. FFmpeg handles video and audio in Google Chrome.[41]

Graphical user interface front-ends for FFmpeg have been developed, including Avanti,[42] and XMedia Recode. JavaCV, a Java wrapper for OpenCV, includes a supplementary Java wrapper for FFmpeg.[43]

Multimedia frameworks using FFmpeg[edit]

ffdshow (external project)
lavfilters (external project)
GStreamer FFmpeg plug-in (external project)
Other frameworks
Perian (external project)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Initial revision - git.videolan.org/ffmpeg.git/commit". git.videolan.org. 2000-12-20. Retrieved 2013-05-11. 
  2. ^ "March 16, 2015, FFmpeg 2.6.1". 2015-03-16. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  3. ^ "Developer Documentation". ffmpeg.org. 2011-12-08. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  4. ^ "Download". ffmpeg.org. FFmpeg. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  5. ^ FFmpeg can be configured to make it proprietary and unredistributable software because libfaac and libaacplus, two optional external libraries, are proprietary software and cannot be distributed under the terms of the GPL.
  6. ^ "Codecs list". ffmpeg.org. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  7. ^ "Legal information on FFmpeg's website". ffmpeg.org. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  8. ^ Bellard, Fabrice (18 February 2006). "FFmpeg naming and logo". FFmpeg developer mailing list. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  9. ^ Steve Carlsen (1992-06-03). "TIFF 6.0 specification" (PS). Aldus. p. 98. Archived from the original on 2004. Retrieved 2014. Zig-Zag Scan 
  10. ^ "FFmpeg Automated Testing Environment". Fate.multimedia.cx. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  11. ^ "ffmpeg.org/download.html#releases". ffmpeg.org. Retrieved 2015-02-01. 
  12. ^ a b "NUT". Multimedia Wiki. 2012. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  13. ^ Fiona Glaser (2010-07-23), Diary Of An x264 Developer: Announcing the world’s fastest VP8 decoder, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  14. ^ FFmpeg Announces High-Performance VP8 Decoder, Slashdot, 2010-07-24, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  15. ^ "FFmpeg Goes WebM, Enabling VP8 for Boxee & Co". newteevee.com. 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2012-01-04. ...with VLC, Boxee, MythTV, Handbrake and MPlayer being some of the more popular projects utilizing FFmpeg... 
  16. ^ Libav project site, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  17. ^ Ronald S. Bultje (2011-03-14), Project renamed to Libav, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  18. ^ A group of FFmpeg developers just forked as Libav, Phoronix, 2011-03-14, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  19. ^ What happened to FFmpeg, 2011-03-30, retrieved 2012-05-19 
  20. ^ FFMpeg turmoil, 2011-01-19, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  21. ^ transition: Libav 0.7, 2011-05-01, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  22. ^ Ubuntu Release Management: Transition: "libav", retrieved 2012-01-04 
  23. ^ FFmpeg project site, 2013-11-12, retrieved 2013-12-31 
  24. ^ #729203 - RFP: ffmpeg -- complete, cross-platform solution to record, convert and stream audio and video - Debian Bug report logs, 2013-11-10, retrieved 2013-12-31 
  25. ^ a b "Native VP9 decoder is now in the Git master branch". Launchpad. 2013-10-03. Retrieved 2013-10-21. 
  26. ^ a b "FFmpeg Now Features Native HEVC/H.265 Decoder Support". Softpedia. 2013-10-16. Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  27. ^ FFmpeg and a thousand fixes; January 10, 2014; Google.
  28. ^ Michael Niedermayer, Timothy Gu (2014-12-05). "RELEASE NOTES for FFmpeg 2.5 "Bohr"". VideoLAN. Retrieved 2014-12-05. 
  29. ^ a b c d e f "Changelog". FFmpeg trunk SVN. FFmpeg. 17 April 2007. Retrieved 26 April 2007. 
  30. ^ "ATRAC3plus decoder - git.videolan.org Git - ffmpeg.git/commit". git.videolan.org. 2013-12-28. Retrieved 2013-12-28. 
  31. ^ a b "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg. 7 May 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2010. 
  32. ^ vitor (13 April 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 14 April 2008. 
  33. ^ vitor (30 March 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 30 March 2008. 
  34. ^ benoit (14 April 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 14 April 2008. 
  35. ^ ramiro (18 March 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 18 March 2008. 
  36. ^ banan (8 June 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 8 June 2008. 
  37. ^ faust3 (21 March 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 21 March 2008. 
  38. ^ van Kesteren, Anne (2010-09-01). "Internet Drafts are not Open Standards". annevankesteren.nl. Self-published. Retrieved 2015-03-22. 
  39. ^ "Google’s YouTube Uses FFmpeg | Breaking Eggs And Making Omelettes". Multimedia.cx. 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2012-08-06. 
  40. ^ a b "FFmpeg-based Projects". Ffmpeg.org. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  41. ^ "Avanti: FFmpeg/Avisynth GUI". Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  42. ^ "JavaCV". GitHub. 2015. 

External links[edit]