FFmpeg running on Microsoft Windows
|Original author(s)||Fabrice Bellard|
|Initial release||December 20, 2000|
|Stable release||2.7.2 (July 20, 2015) [±]|
|Preview release||Git [±]|
|Written in||C and Assembly|
|Operating system||Windows, OS X, and Linux; may be compiled for other OSes.|
|Platform||x86, ARM, PowerPC, MIPS, DEC Alpha, Blackfin, AVR32, SH-4, and SPARC; may be compiled for other desktop computers|
|License||LGPL 2.1+, GPL 2+
Unredistributable if compiled as such
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).
The project was started by Fabrice Bellard (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". The logo uses a zigzag pattern that shows how MPEG video codecs handle entropy encoding.
FFmpeg is developed under 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.
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 build from their source code Git version control system.
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 has not 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.
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.
On March 13, 2011, a group of FFmpeg developers decided to fork the project under the name "Libav". The event seems related to a recent issue in project management. The maintainer of FFmpeg packages for Debian and Ubuntu operating systems, being one of the group of developers who forked FFmpeg, has switched then to the fork. As of 10 November 2013[update], Debian Developer Rogério Brito moved to reincorporate FFmpeg into Debian and Ubuntu, with user support.
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. FFmpeg 2.5 released in December, 2014, supports an MPEG-DASH muxer.
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 various sources such as a TV card etc.
- 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, 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 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
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.
In addition to FFV1 and Snow codecs, which were created and developed from within FFmpeg, the project also supports codecs from the following:
|Group||Format type||Format name|
|ISO/IEC/ITU-T||Video||MPEG-1 Part 2, H.261, H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2, H.263, MPEG-4 Part 2, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, HEVC/H.265 (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|
|DVD Forum/Dolby||Audio||MLP / Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital (aka AC-3)|
|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), 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|
|RealNetworks||Video||RealVideo 1, 2, 3 and 4|
|Audio||RealAudio v1 – v10|
|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|
|Audio||Speex (via libspeex), Vorbis, Opus and FLAC|
|Sony||Audio||Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding (ATRAC1, ATRAC3 and ATRAC3Plus)|
|On2 / Google||Video||Duck TrueMotion 1, Duck TrueMotion 2, VP3, VP5, VP6, VP7, VP8, VP9|
|RAD Game Tools||Video||Smacker video and Bink video|
- AVI and also input from AviSynth
- GXF, General eXchange Format, SMPTE 360M
- 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
- Open standards
- IETF FTP, TCP, UDP, Gopher, HTTP, RTP, RTSP, SDP
- SFTP (via libssh)
- Adobe RTMP, RTMPT, RTMPE, RTMPTE and RTMPS
- Microsoft MMS over TCP and MMS over HTTP
- RealMedia RTSP/RDT
FFmpeg contains more than 100 codecs, most of which do not just store uncompressed data. Most codecs that compress information could be claimed by patent holders. 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.
In June 2011 an election was organized to establish the board of FFmtech foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated for managing donation funds. It was designed to offer reimbursement for expenses and work done to FFmpeg and Libav. However, according to FFmpeg developer Ronald Bultje the results have been doubtful.
Projects using FFmpeg
FFmpeg is used by software such as VLC media player, xine, HandBrake, Plex, Blender, YouTube, and MPC-HC; it handles video and audio playback in Google Chrome. Graphical user interface front-ends for FFmpeg have been developed, including Avanti, and XMedia Recode. JavaCV, a Java wrapper for OpenCV, includes a supplementary Java wrapper for FFmpeg.
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