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definition - FFmpeg

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Ffmpeg new logo.png
FFmpeg running on Microsoft Windows
Developer(s) FFmpeg team
Initial release December 20, 2000 (2000-12-20) [1]
Stable release 0.11.1  (June 7, 2012; 16 days ago (2012-06-07)) [±]
Preview release Git snapshot
Development status Active
Written in C[2]
Operating system Cross-platform[3]
Platform Multi-platform
Type Multimedia framework
License GNU LGPL 2.1+
Unredistributable if compiled as such[4]
Website ffmpeg.org

FFmpeg is a free software project that produces libraries and programs for handling multimedia data. The most notable parts of FFmpeg are 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).[5]



The project was started by Fabrice Bellard[5] (using the pseudonym "Gerard Lantau"), 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".[6] The logo uses a zigzag pattern that shows how MPEG video codecs handle entropy encoding.

FFmpeg is developed under GNU/Linux, but it can be compiled under most operating systems, including Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, 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.[7]

FFmpeg version 0.5 appeared after a long time without formal releases. FFmpeg developers still always recommend using the latest neutral build from their source code Git version control system.

There are 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 bitstream format hasn't been finalized yet, making it experimental for now (February 2011), and the multimedia container is "NUT" which is also not being actively developed anymore, but is still maintained.

On June 17, 2010, with version 0.6 FFmpeg also supports WebM and VP8.[8]

On July 23, 2010 Jason Garrett-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.[9][10]

On March 13, 2011 a group of FFmpeg developers decided to fork the project under the name "Libav".[11][12][13] The event seems related to a recent issue in project management.[14][15] Since then, the maintainer of Debian[16] and Ubuntu[17] packages has switched them to the fork.


The project is made of several components:

  • ffmpeg is a command-line tool to convert one video file format to another. 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.
  • libswresample is a library containing audio resampling routines.
  • libavresample is a library containing audio resampling routines from the Libav project, completely different from 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 adler32, crc, md5, sha1, lzo decompressor, Base64 encoder/decoder, des encrypter/decrypter, rc4 encrypter/decrypter and aes encrypter/decrypter.
  • 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


Codecs which originated from within the FFmpeg project:

The FFmpeg developers have implemented among others:

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

  Container formats


  • IETF standards: TCP, UDP, Gopher, HTTP, RTP, RTSP and SDP
  • Apple-related protocols: HTTP Live Streaming
  • RealMedia-related protocols: RealMedia RTSP/RDT
  • Adobe-related protocols: RTMP, RTMPT (via librtmp), RTMPE (via librtmp), RTMPTE (via librtmp) and RTMPS (via librtmp)
  • Microsoft-related protocols: MMS over TCP and MMS over HTTP

  Projects using FFmpeg

FFmpeg is used by many open source (and proprietary) projects, including ffmpeg2theora, VLC, MPlayer, HandBrake, Blender, Google Chrome, YouTube[26], FaceBook[27], and others.[28]

FFmpeg handles the HTML5 Video and Audio media content in the Origyn Web Browser for MorphOS Operating System.[29][30]

A number of graphical user interfaces for FFmpeg have been developed, including Avanti,[31] Winff,[32] and the Miro Video Converter.[33]

  Multimedia frameworks using FFmpeg

  Legal status of codecs

FFmpeg contains more than 100 codecs [34] most of which do not just store uncompressed data. At least all codecs that compress information could be claimed by patent holders.[35] 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. Furthermore, many of these codecs are only released under terms that forbid reverse engineering, even for purposes of interoperability. These terms of use are forbidden in certain countries. For example, some European Union nations have not implemented software patents and have laws expressly allowing reverse engineering for purposes of interoperability.[36]

  See also


  1. ^ "Log of ffmpeg.c". git.videolan.org. http://git.videolan.org/?p=ffmpeg.git;a=history;f=ffmpeg.c. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  2. ^ "Developer Documentation". ffmpeg.org. 2011-12-08. http://ffmpeg.org/developer.html. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  3. ^ "Download". ffmpeg.org. http://ffmpeg.org. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Bellard, Fabrice (18 February 2006). "FFmpeg naming and logo". FFmpeg developer mailing list. FFmpeg website. http://ffmpeg.org/pipermail/ffmpeg-devel/2006-February/010315.html. Retrieved 24 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "FFmpeg Automated Testing Environment". Fate.multimedia.cx. http://fate.multimedia.cx/. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  7. ^ "FFmpeg Goes WebM, Enabling VP8 for Boxee & Co". newteevee.com. 2010-06-17. http://newteevee.com/2010/06/17/ffmpeg-goes-webm-enabling-vp8-for-boxee-co/. Retrieved 2012-01-04. "...with VLC, Boxee, MythTV, Handbrake and MPlayer being some of the more popular projects utilizing FFmpeg..." 
  8. ^ Jason Garrett-Glaser (210-07-23), Diary Of An x264 Developer: Announcing the world’s fastest VP8 decoder, http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/?p=499, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  9. ^ FFmpeg Announces High-Performance VP8 Decoder, Slashdot, 2010-07-24, http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/07/24/1227241/FFmpeg-Announces-High-Performance-VP8-Decoder, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  10. ^ Libav project site, http://www.libav.org/, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  11. ^ Ronald S. Bultje (2011-03-14), Project renamed to Libav, http://article.gmane.org/gmane.comp.video.ffmpeg.devel/129579, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  12. ^ A group of FFmpeg developers just forked as Libav, Phoronix, 2011-03-14, http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=OTIwNw, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  13. ^ What happened to FFmpeg, 2011-03-30, http://codecs.multimedia.cx/?p=339, retrieved 2012-05-19 
  14. ^ FFMpeg turmoil, 2011-01-19, https://lwn.net/Articles/423702/, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  15. ^ transition: Libav 0.7, 2011-05-01, http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=624807, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  16. ^ Ubuntu Release Management: Transition: "libav", http://people.canonical.com/~ubuntu-archive/transitions/libav.html, retrieved 2012-01-04 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g banan (17 April 2007). "Changelog". FFmpeg trunk SVN. FFmpeg website. http://svn.mplayerhq.hu/ffmpeg/trunk/Changelog?revision=8747&view=marku. Retrieved 26 April 2007. 
  18. ^ a b ivo (7 May 2007). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. http://lists.mplayerhq.hu/pipermail/ffmpeg-devel/2007-May/028760.html. Retrieved 24 December 2010. 
  19. ^ vitor (13 April 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. https://lists.mplayerhq.hu/pipermail/ffmpeg-cvslog/2008-April/013231.html. Retrieved 14 April 2008. 
  20. ^ vitor (30 March 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. https://lists.mplayerhq.hu/pipermail/ffmpeg-cvslog/2008-March/012963.html. Retrieved 30 March 2008. 
  21. ^ faust3 (21 March 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. http://lists.mplayerhq.hu/pipermail/ffmpeg-cvslog/2008-March/012799.html. Retrieved 21 March 2008. 
  22. ^ benoit (14 April 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. https://lists.mplayerhq.hu/pipermail/ffmpeg-cvslog/2008-April/013245.html. Retrieved 14 April 2008. 
  23. ^ ramiro (18 March 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. http://lists.mplayerhq.hu/pipermail/ffmpeg-cvslog/2008-March/012708.html. Retrieved 18 March 2008. 
  24. ^ banan (8 June 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. http://lists.mplayerhq.hu/pipermail/ffmpeg-cvslog/2008-June/014417.html. Retrieved 8 June 2008. 
  25. ^ http://multimedia.cx/eggs/googles-youtube-uses-ffmpeg/
  26. ^ http://lists.mplayerhq.hu/pipermail/ffmpeg-devel/2009-June/070998.html
  27. ^ "FFmpeg-based Projects". Ffmpeg.org. http://ffmpeg.org/projects.html. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  28. ^ "Origyn Web Browser for MorphOS". Fabian Coeurjoly. http://fabportnawak.free.fr/owb/. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  29. ^ Thom Holwerda (March 8, 2010). "Origyn Web Browser 1.7 Supports HTML5 Media, More". OSNews. http://www.osnews.com/story/22971/Origyn_Web_Browser_1_7_Supports_HTML5_Media_More. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  30. ^ "Avanti: FFmpeg/Avisynth GUI". http://avanti.arrozcru.com/. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  31. ^ "WinFF is a GUI to the command line video converter FFmpeg". http://code.google.com/p/winff/. Retrieved 2011-08-17. 
  32. ^ "Miro Video Converter FFMPEG Conversion Matrix". Participatory Culture Foundation. 2011-04-08. https://develop.participatoryculture.org/index.php/ConversionMatrix. Retrieved 2011-10-11. 
  33. ^ "Codecs list". ffmpeg.org. http://ffmpeg.org/general.html#SEC8. Retrieved 2012-01-01. 
  34. ^ "Legal information on FFmpeg's website". ffmpeg.org. http://ffmpeg.org/legal.html. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  35. ^ Council Directive 91/250/EEC of 14 May 1991 on the legal protection of computer programs

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