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\input texinfo @c -*- texinfo -*-
@documentencoding UTF-8
@settitle FFmpeg FAQ
@center @titlefont{FFmpeg FAQ}
@end titlepage
@chapter General Questions
@section Why doesn't FFmpeg support feature [xyz]?
Because no one has taken on that task yet. FFmpeg development is
driven by the tasks that are important to the individual developers.
If there is a feature that is important to you, the best way to get
it implemented is to undertake the task yourself or sponsor a developer.
@section FFmpeg does not support codec XXX. Can you include a Windows DLL loader to support it?
No. Windows DLLs are not portable, bloated and often slow.
Moreover FFmpeg strives to support all codecs natively.
A DLL loader is not conducive to that goal.
@section I cannot read this file although this format seems to be supported by ffmpeg.
Even if ffmpeg can read the container format, it may not support all its
codecs. Please consult the supported codec list in the ffmpeg
@section Which codecs are supported by Windows?
Windows does not support standard formats like MPEG very well, unless you
install some additional codecs.
The following list of video codecs should work on most Windows systems:
@table @option
@item msmpeg4v2
@item msmpeg4
.asf only
@item wmv1
.asf only
@item wmv2
.asf only
@item mpeg4
Only if you have some MPEG-4 codec like ffdshow or Xvid installed.
@item mpeg1video
.mpg only
@end table
Note, ASF files often have .wmv or .wma extensions in Windows. It should also
be mentioned that Microsoft claims a patent on the ASF format, and may sue
or threaten users who create ASF files with non-Microsoft software. It is
strongly advised to avoid ASF where possible.
The following list of audio codecs should work on most Windows systems:
@table @option
@item adpcm_ima_wav
@item adpcm_ms
@item pcm_s16le
@item libmp3lame
If some MP3 codec like LAME is installed.
@end table
@chapter Compilation
@section @code{error: can't find a register in class 'GENERAL_REGS' while reloading 'asm'}
This is a bug in gcc. Do not report it to us. Instead, please report it to
the gcc developers. Note that we will not add workarounds for gcc bugs.
Also note that (some of) the gcc developers believe this is not a bug or
not a bug they should fix:
Then again, some of them do not know the difference between an undecidable
problem and an NP-hard problem...
@section I have installed this library with my distro's package manager. Why does @command{configure} not see it?
Distributions usually split libraries in several packages. The main package
contains the files necessary to run programs using the library. The
development package contains the files necessary to build programs using the
library. Sometimes, docs and/or data are in a separate package too.
To build FFmpeg, you need to install the development package. It is usually
called @file{libfoo-dev} or @file{libfoo-devel}. You can remove it after the
build is finished, but be sure to keep the main package.
@section How do I make @command{pkg-config} find my libraries?
Somewhere along with your libraries, there is a @file{.pc} file (or several)
in a @file{pkgconfig} directory. You need to set environment variables to
point @command{pkg-config} to these files.
If you need to @emph{add} directories to @command{pkg-config}'s search list
(typical use case: library installed separately), add it to
export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/opt/x264/lib/pkgconfig:/opt/opus/lib/pkgconfig
@end example
If you need to @emph{replace} @command{pkg-config}'s search list
(typical use case: cross-compiling), set it in
export PKG_CONFIG_LIBDIR=/home/me/cross/usr/lib/pkgconfig:/home/me/cross/usr/local/lib/pkgconfig
@end example
If you need to know the library's internal dependencies (typical use: static
linking), add the @code{--static} option to @command{pkg-config}:
./configure --pkg-config-flags=--static
@end example
@section How do I use @command{pkg-config} when cross-compiling?
The best way is to install @command{pkg-config} in your cross-compilation
environment. It will automatically use the cross-compilation libraries.
You can also use @command{pkg-config} from the host environment by
specifying explicitly @code{--pkg-config=pkg-config} to @command{configure}.
In that case, you must point @command{pkg-config} to the correct directories
using the @code{PKG_CONFIG_LIBDIR}, as explained in the previous entry.
As an intermediate solution, you can place in your cross-compilation
environment a script that calls the host @command{pkg-config} with
@code{PKG_CONFIG_LIBDIR} set. That script can look like that:
exec /usr/bin/pkg-config "$@@"
@end example
@chapter Usage
@section ffmpeg does not work; what is wrong?
Try a @code{make distclean} in the ffmpeg source directory before the build.
If this does not help see
@section How do I encode single pictures into movies?
First, rename your pictures to follow a numerical sequence.
For example, img1.jpg, img2.jpg, img3.jpg,...
Then you may run:
ffmpeg -f image2 -i img%d.jpg /tmp/a.mpg
@end example
Notice that @samp{%d} is replaced by the image number.
@file{img%03d.jpg} means the sequence @file{img001.jpg}, @file{img002.jpg}, etc.
Use the @option{-start_number} option to declare a starting number for
the sequence. This is useful if your sequence does not start with
@file{img001.jpg} but is still in a numerical order. The following
example will start with @file{img100.jpg}:
ffmpeg -f image2 -start_number 100 -i img%d.jpg /tmp/a.mpg
@end example
If you have large number of pictures to rename, you can use the
following command to ease the burden. The command, using the bourne
shell syntax, symbolically links all files in the current directory
that match @code{*jpg} to the @file{/tmp} directory in the sequence of
@file{img001.jpg}, @file{img002.jpg} and so on.
x=1; for i in *jpg; do counter=$(printf %03d $x); ln -s "$i" /tmp/img"$counter".jpg; x=$(($x+1)); done
@end example
If you want to sequence them by oldest modified first, substitute
@code{$(ls -r -t *jpg)} in place of @code{*jpg}.
Then run:
ffmpeg -f image2 -i /tmp/img%03d.jpg /tmp/a.mpg
@end example
The same logic is used for any image format that ffmpeg reads.
You can also use @command{cat} to pipe images to ffmpeg:
cat *.jpg | ffmpeg -f image2pipe -c:v mjpeg -i - output.mpg
@end example
@section How do I encode movie to single pictures?
ffmpeg -i movie.mpg movie%d.jpg
@end example
The @file{movie.mpg} used as input will be converted to
@file{movie1.jpg}, @file{movie2.jpg}, etc...
Instead of relying on file format self-recognition, you may also use
@table @option
@item -c:v ppm
@item -c:v png
@item -c:v mjpeg
@end table
to force the encoding.
Applying that to the previous example:
ffmpeg -i movie.mpg -f image2 -c:v mjpeg menu%d.jpg
@end example
Beware that there is no "jpeg" codec. Use "mjpeg" instead.
@section Why do I see a slight quality degradation with multithreaded MPEG* encoding?
For multithreaded MPEG* encoding, the encoded slices must be independent,
otherwise thread n would practically have to wait for n-1 to finish, so it's
quite logical that there is a small reduction of quality. This is not a bug.
@section How can I read from the standard input or write to the standard output?
Use @file{-} as file name.
@section -f jpeg doesn't work.
Try '-f image2 test%d.jpg'.
@section Why can I not change the frame rate?
Some codecs, like MPEG-1/2, only allow a small number of fixed frame rates.
Choose a different codec with the -c:v command line option.
@section How do I encode Xvid or DivX video with ffmpeg?
Both Xvid and DivX (version 4+) are implementations of the ISO MPEG-4
standard (note that there are many other coding formats that use this
same standard). Thus, use '-c:v mpeg4' to encode in these formats. The
default fourcc stored in an MPEG-4-coded file will be 'FMP4'. If you want
a different fourcc, use the '-vtag' option. E.g., '-vtag xvid' will
force the fourcc 'xvid' to be stored as the video fourcc rather than the
@section Which are good parameters for encoding high quality MPEG-4?
'-mbd rd -flags +mv4+aic -trellis 2 -cmp 2 -subcmp 2 -g 300 -pass 1/2',
things to try: '-bf 2', '-mpv_flags qp_rd', '-mpv_flags mv0', '-mpv_flags skip_rd'.
@section Which are good parameters for encoding high quality MPEG-1/MPEG-2?
'-mbd rd -trellis 2 -cmp 2 -subcmp 2 -g 100 -pass 1/2'
but beware the '-g 100' might cause problems with some decoders.
Things to try: '-bf 2', '-mpv_flags qp_rd', '-mpv_flags mv0', '-mpv_flags skip_rd'.
@section Interlaced video looks very bad when encoded with ffmpeg, what is wrong?
You should use '-flags +ilme+ildct' and maybe '-flags +alt' for interlaced
material, and try '-top 0/1' if the result looks really messed-up.
@section How can I read DirectShow files?
If you have built FFmpeg with @code{./configure --enable-avisynth}
(only possible on MinGW/Cygwin platforms),
then you may use any file that DirectShow can read as input.
Just create an "input.avs" text file with this single line ...
DirectShowSource("C:\path to your file\yourfile.asf")
@end example
... and then feed that text file to ffmpeg:
ffmpeg -i input.avs
@end example
For ANY other help on AviSynth, please visit the
@uref{, AviSynth homepage}.
@section How can I join video files?
To "join" video files is quite ambiguous. The following list explains the
different kinds of "joining" and points out how those are addressed in
FFmpeg. To join video files may mean:
To put them one after the other: this is called to @emph{concatenate} them
(in short: concat) and is addressed
@ref{How can I concatenate video files, in this very faq}.
To put them together in the same file, to let the user choose between the
different versions (example: different audio languages): this is called to
@emph{multiplex} them together (in short: mux), and is done by simply
invoking ffmpeg with several @option{-i} options.
For audio, to put all channels together in a single stream (example: two
mono streams into one stereo stream): this is sometimes called to
@emph{merge} them, and can be done using the
@url{ffmpeg-filters.html#amerge, @code{amerge}} filter.
For audio, to play one on top of the other: this is called to @emph{mix}
them, and can be done by first merging them into a single stream and then
using the @url{ffmpeg-filters.html#pan, @code{pan}} filter to mix
the channels at will.
For video, to display both together, side by side or one on top of a part of
the other; it can be done using the
@url{ffmpeg-filters.html#overlay, @code{overlay}} video filter.
@end itemize
@anchor{How can I concatenate video files}
@section How can I concatenate video files?
There are several solutions, depending on the exact circumstances.
@subsection Concatenating using the concat @emph{filter}
FFmpeg has a @url{ffmpeg-filters.html#concat,
@code{concat}} filter designed specifically for that, with examples in the
documentation. This operation is recommended if you need to re-encode.
@subsection Concatenating using the concat @emph{demuxer}
FFmpeg has a @url{ffmpeg-formats.html#concat,
@code{concat}} demuxer which you can use when you want to avoid a re-encode and
your format doesn't support file level concatenation.
@subsection Concatenating using the concat @emph{protocol} (file level)
FFmpeg has a @url{ffmpeg-protocols.html#concat,
@code{concat}} protocol designed specifically for that, with examples in the
A few multimedia containers (MPEG-1, MPEG-2 PS, DV) allow one to concatenate
video by merely concatenating the files containing them.
Hence you may concatenate your multimedia files by first transcoding them to
these privileged formats, then using the humble @code{cat} command (or the
equally humble @code{copy} under Windows), and finally transcoding back to your
format of choice.
ffmpeg -i input1.avi -qscale:v 1 intermediate1.mpg
ffmpeg -i input2.avi -qscale:v 1 intermediate2.mpg
cat intermediate1.mpg intermediate2.mpg > intermediate_all.mpg
ffmpeg -i intermediate_all.mpg -qscale:v 2 output.avi
@end example
Additionally, you can use the @code{concat} protocol instead of @code{cat} or
@code{copy} which will avoid creation of a potentially huge intermediate file.
ffmpeg -i input1.avi -qscale:v 1 intermediate1.mpg
ffmpeg -i input2.avi -qscale:v 1 intermediate2.mpg
ffmpeg -i concat:"intermediate1.mpg|intermediate2.mpg" -c copy intermediate_all.mpg
ffmpeg -i intermediate_all.mpg -qscale:v 2 output.avi
@end example
Note that you may need to escape the character "|" which is special for many
Another option is usage of named pipes, should your platform support it:
mkfifo intermediate1.mpg
mkfifo intermediate2.mpg
ffmpeg -i input1.avi -qscale:v 1 -y intermediate1.mpg < /dev/null &
ffmpeg -i input2.avi -qscale:v 1 -y intermediate2.mpg < /dev/null &
cat intermediate1.mpg intermediate2.mpg |\
ffmpeg -f mpeg -i - -c:v mpeg4 -c:a libmp3lame output.avi
@end example
@subsection Concatenating using raw audio and video
Similarly, the yuv4mpegpipe format, and the raw video, raw audio codecs also
allow concatenation, and the transcoding step is almost lossless.
When using multiple yuv4mpegpipe(s), the first line needs to be discarded
from all but the first stream. This can be accomplished by piping through
@code{tail} as seen below. Note that when piping through @code{tail} you
must use command grouping, @code{@{ ;@}}, to background properly.
For example, let's say we want to concatenate two FLV files into an
output.flv file:
mkfifo temp1.a
mkfifo temp1.v
mkfifo temp2.a
mkfifo temp2.v
mkfifo all.a
mkfifo all.v
ffmpeg -i input1.flv -vn -f u16le -c:a pcm_s16le -ac 2 -ar 44100 - > temp1.a < /dev/null &
ffmpeg -i input2.flv -vn -f u16le -c:a pcm_s16le -ac 2 -ar 44100 - > temp2.a < /dev/null &
ffmpeg -i input1.flv -an -f yuv4mpegpipe - > temp1.v < /dev/null &
@{ ffmpeg -i input2.flv -an -f yuv4mpegpipe - < /dev/null | tail -n +2 > temp2.v ; @} &
cat temp1.a temp2.a > all.a &
cat temp1.v temp2.v > all.v &
ffmpeg -f u16le -c:a pcm_s16le -ac 2 -ar 44100 -i all.a \
-f yuv4mpegpipe -i all.v \
-y output.flv
rm temp[12].[av] all.[av]
@end example
@section Using @option{-f lavfi}, audio becomes mono for no apparent reason.
Use @option{-dumpgraph -} to find out exactly where the channel layout is
Most likely, it is through @code{auto-inserted aresample}. Try to understand
why the converting filter was needed at that place.
Just before the output is a likely place, as @option{-f lavfi} currently
only support packed S16.
Then insert the correct @code{aformat} explicitly in the filtergraph,
specifying the exact format.
@end example
@section Why does FFmpeg not see the subtitles in my VOB file?
VOB and a few other formats do not have a global header that describes
everything present in the file. Instead, applications are supposed to scan
the file to see what it contains. Since VOB files are frequently large, only
the beginning is scanned. If the subtitles happen only later in the file,
they will not be initially detected.
Some applications, including the @code{ffmpeg} command-line tool, can only
work with streams that were detected during the initial scan; streams that
are detected later are ignored.
The size of the initial scan is controlled by two options: @code{probesize}
(default ~5 Mo) and @code{analyzeduration} (default 5,000,000 µs = 5 s). For
the subtitle stream to be detected, both values must be large enough.
@section Why was the @command{ffmpeg} @option{-sameq} option removed? What to use instead?
The @option{-sameq} option meant "same quantizer", and made sense only in a
very limited set of cases. Unfortunately, a lot of people mistook it for
"same quality" and used it in places where it did not make sense: it had
roughly the expected visible effect, but achieved it in a very inefficient
Each encoder has its own set of options to set the quality-vs-size balance,
use the options for the encoder you are using to set the quality level to a
point acceptable for your tastes. The most common options to do that are
@option{-qscale} and @option{-qmax}, but you should peruse the documentation
of the encoder you chose.
@section I have a stretched video, why does scaling does not fix it?
A lot of video codecs and formats can store the @emph{aspect ratio} of the
video: this is the ratio between the width and the height of either the full
image (DAR, display aspect ratio) or individual pixels (SAR, sample aspect
ratio). For example, EGA screens at resolution 640×350 had 4:3 DAR and 35:48
Most still image processing work with square pixels, i.e. 1:1 SAR, but a lot
of video standards, especially from the analogic-numeric transition era, use
non-square pixels.
Most processing filters in FFmpeg handle the aspect ratio to avoid
stretching the image: cropping adjusts the DAR to keep the SAR constant,
scaling adjusts the SAR to keep the DAR constant.
If you want to stretch, or unstretch”, the image, you need to override the
information with the
@url{ffmpeg-filters.html#setdar_002c-setsar, @code{setdar or setsar filters}}.
Do not forget to examine carefully the original video to check whether the
stretching comes from the image or from the aspect ratio information.
For example, to fix a badly encoded EGA capture, use the following commands,
either the first one to upscale to square pixels or the second one to set
the correct aspect ratio or the third one to avoid transcoding (may not work
depending on the format / codec / player / phase of the moon):
ffmpeg -i ega_screen.nut -vf scale=640:480,setsar=1 ega_screen_scaled.nut
ffmpeg -i ega_screen.nut -vf setdar=4/3 ega_screen_anamorphic.nut
ffmpeg -i ega_screen.nut -aspect 4/3 -c copy ega_screen_overridden.nut
@end example
@anchor{background task}
@section How do I run ffmpeg as a background task?
ffmpeg normally checks the console input, for entries like "q" to stop
and "?" to give help, while performing operations. ffmpeg does not have a way of
detecting when it is running as a background task.
When it checks the console input, that can cause the process running ffmpeg
in the background to suspend.
To prevent those input checks, allowing ffmpeg to run as a background task,
use the @url{ffmpeg.html#stdin-option, @code{-nostdin} option}
in the ffmpeg invocation. This is effective whether you run ffmpeg in a shell
or invoke ffmpeg in its own process via an operating system API.
As an alternative, when you are running ffmpeg in a shell, you can redirect
standard input to @code{/dev/null} (on Linux and macOS)
or @code{NUL} (on Windows). You can do this redirect either
on the ffmpeg invocation, or from a shell script which calls ffmpeg.
For example:
ffmpeg -nostdin -i INPUT OUTPUT
@end example
or (on Linux, macOS, and other UNIX-like shells):
ffmpeg -i INPUT OUTPUT </dev/null
@end example
or (on Windows):
@end example
@section How do I prevent ffmpeg from suspending with a message like @emph{suspended (tty output)}?
If you run ffmpeg in the background, you may find that its process suspends.
There may be a message like @emph{suspended (tty output)}. The question is how
to prevent the process from being suspended.
For example:
% ffmpeg -i INPUT OUTPUT &> ~/tmp/log.txt &
[1] 93352
[1] + suspended (tty output) ffmpeg -i INPUT OUTPUT &>
@end example
The message "tty output" notwithstanding, the problem here is that
ffmpeg normally checks the console input when it runs. The operating system
detects this, and suspends the process until you can bring it to the
foreground and attend to it.
The solution is to use the right techniques to tell ffmpeg not to consult
console input. You can use the
@url{ffmpeg.html#stdin-option, @code{-nostdin} option},
or redirect standard input with @code{< /dev/null}.
@ref{background task, @emph{How do I run ffmpeg as a background task?}}
for details.
@chapter Development
@section Are there examples illustrating how to use the FFmpeg libraries, particularly libavcodec and libavformat?
Yes. Check the @file{doc/examples} directory in the source
repository, also available online at:
Examples are also installed by default, usually in
Also you may read the Developers Guide of the FFmpeg documentation. Alternatively,
examine the source code for one of the many open source projects that
already incorporate FFmpeg at (@url{projects.html}).
@section Can you support my C compiler XXX?
It depends. If your compiler is C99-compliant, then patches to support
it are likely to be welcome if they do not pollute the source code
with @code{#ifdef}s related to the compiler.
@section Is Microsoft Visual C++ supported?
Yes. Please see the @uref{platform.html, Microsoft Visual C++}
section in the FFmpeg documentation.
@section Can you add automake, libtool or autoconf support?
No. These tools are too bloated and they complicate the build.
@section Why not rewrite FFmpeg in object-oriented C++?
FFmpeg is already organized in a highly modular manner and does not need to
be rewritten in a formal object language. Further, many of the developers
favor straight C; it works for them. For more arguments on this matter,
read @uref{, "Programming Religion"}.
@section Why are the ffmpeg programs devoid of debugging symbols?
The build process creates @command{ffmpeg_g}, @command{ffplay_g}, etc. which
contain full debug information. Those binaries are stripped to create
@command{ffmpeg}, @command{ffplay}, etc. If you need the debug information, use
the *_g versions.
@section I do not like the LGPL, can I contribute code under the GPL instead?
Yes, as long as the code is optional and can easily and cleanly be placed
under #if CONFIG_GPL without breaking anything. So, for example, a new codec
or filter would be OK under GPL while a bug fix to LGPL code would not.
@section I'm using FFmpeg from within my C application but the linker complains about missing symbols from the libraries themselves.
FFmpeg builds static libraries by default. In static libraries, dependencies
are not handled. That has two consequences. First, you must specify the
libraries in dependency order: @code{-lavdevice} must come before
@code{-lavformat}, @code{-lavutil} must come after everything else, etc.
Second, external libraries that are used in FFmpeg have to be specified too.
An easy way to get the full list of required libraries in dependency order
is to use @code{pkg-config}.
c99 -o program program.c $(pkg-config --cflags --libs libavformat libavcodec)
@end example
See @file{doc/example/Makefile} and @file{doc/example/pc-uninstalled} for
more details.
@section I'm using FFmpeg from within my C++ application but the linker complains about missing symbols which seem to be available.
FFmpeg is a pure C project, so to use the libraries within your C++ application
you need to explicitly state that you are using a C library. You can do this by
encompassing your FFmpeg includes using @code{extern "C"}.
See @url{}
@section I'm using libavutil from within my C++ application but the compiler complains about 'UINT64_C' was not declared in this scope
FFmpeg is a pure C project using C99 math features, in order to enable C++
to use them you have to append -D__STDC_CONSTANT_MACROS to your CXXFLAGS
@section I have a file in memory / a API different from *open/*read/ libc how do I use it with libavformat?
You have to create a custom AVIOContext using @code{avio_alloc_context},
see @file{libavformat/aviobuf.c} in FFmpeg and @file{libmpdemux/demux_lavf.c} in MPlayer or MPlayer2 sources.
@section Where is the documentation about ffv1, msmpeg4, asv1, 4xm?
see @url{}
@section How do I feed H.263-RTP (and other codecs in RTP) to libavcodec?
Even if peculiar since it is network oriented, RTP is a container like any
other. You have to @emph{demux} RTP before feeding the payload to libavcodec.
In this specific case please look at RFC 4629 to see how it should be done.
@section AVStream.r_frame_rate is wrong, it is much larger than the frame rate.
@code{r_frame_rate} is NOT the average frame rate, it is the smallest frame rate
that can accurately represent all timestamps. So no, it is not
wrong if it is larger than the average!
For example, if you have mixed 25 and 30 fps content, then @code{r_frame_rate}
will be 150 (it is the least common multiple).
If you are looking for the average frame rate, see @code{AVStream.avg_frame_rate}.
@section Why is @code{make fate} not running all tests?
Make sure you have the fate-suite samples and the @code{SAMPLES} Make variable
or @code{FATE_SAMPLES} environment variable or the @code{--samples}
@command{configure} option is set to the right path.
@section Why is @code{make fate} not finding the samples?
Do you happen to have a @code{~} character in the samples path to indicate a
home directory? The value is used in ways where the shell cannot expand it,
causing FATE to not find files. Just replace @code{~} by the full path.