FFmpeg running on Microsoft Windows
Original author(s) Fabrice Bellard
Developer(s) FFmpeg team
Initial release December 20, 2000 (2000-12-20)[1]
Stable release 3.2.1 (November 26, 2016 (2016-11-26)[2]) [±]
Preview release Git [±]
Repository git.ffmpeg.org/ffmpeg.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 (Lavf),[6] 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).[7]

The name of the project is inspired by the MPEG video standards group, together with "FF" for "fast forward".[8] The logo uses a zigzag pattern that shows how MPEG video codecs handle entropy encoding.[9]


The project was started by Fabrice Bellard[7] (using the pseudonym "Gérard Lantau") in 2000, and was led by Michael Niedermayer from 2004 until 2015.[10] Some FFmpeg developers were also part of the MPlayer project.

The project publishes a new release every three months on average. While release versions are available from the website for download, FFmpeg developers recommend that users compile the software from source using the latest build from their source code Git version control system.[11]

On January 10, 2014, two Google employees announced that over 1000 bugs had been fixed in FFmpeg during the previous two years by means of fuzz testing.[12]

Codec history

Two video coding formats with corresponding codecs and one container format have been created within the FFmpeg project so far. The two video codecs are the lossless FFV1, and the lossless and lossy Snow codec. Development of Snow has stalled, while its bit-stream format has not been finalized yet, making it experimental since 2011. The multimedia container format called NUT is no longer being actively developed, but 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]

In October 2013, a native VP9[17] and the OpenHEVC decoder, an open source High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) decoder, were added to FFmpeg.[18] In 2016 the native AAC encoder was considered stable, removing support for the two external AAC encoders from VisualOn and FAAC. FFmpeg 3.0 (nicknamed "Einstein") retained build support for the Fraunhofer FDK AAC encoder.[19]


Command line tools


Supported hardware


FFmpeg encompasses software implementations of video and audio compressing and decompressing algorithms. These can be compiled and run on diverse instruction sets.

Many wide-spread instruction sets are supported by FFmpeg, like x86 (IA-32 and x86-64), PPC (PowerPC), ARM, DEC Alpha, SPARC, and MIPS.[20]

Special purpose hardware

Various application-specific integrated circuit related to video and audio compression and decompression do exist. Such ASIC can perform the computation for audio/video decompression or compression partly or fully to offload these from the host CPU. To make use of such ASIC, instead of an complete implementation of some algorithm, only the API is required. There are numerous ASICs and APIs available, of which several are supported by FFmpeg.[21]

Firm ASIC purpose supported by FFmpeg details
AMD UVD decompression
VCE compression
Intel Intel Quick Sync Video both
Nvidia PureVideo / NVDEC decompression via the VDPAU API as of FFmpeg v1.2 (deprecated)
via CUVID API as of FFmpeg v3.1[22]
NVENC compression as of FFmpeg v2.6
Broadcom Crystal HD decompression

Supported codecs and formats

Image formats

FFmpeg supports many common and some uncommon image formats.

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, ya8, rgba, rgb64be.


For more details on this topic, see libavcodec.

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 (Px64),[23] H.262/MPEG-2 Part 2, H.263,[23] MPEG-4 Part 2, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, HEVC/H.265[18] (MPEG-H Part 2), Motion JPEG, IEC DV video and CD+G
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, G.729D, IEC DV audio and Direct Stream Transfer
Subtitle MPEG-4 Timed Text (aka 3GPP Timed Text)
EBU Subtitle Spruce subtitle (EBU STL)
EIA Subtitle EIA-608
CEA Subtitle CEA-708
SMPTE Video SMPTE 314M (aka DVCAM and DVCPRO), SMPTE 370M (aka DVCPRO HD), VC-1 (aka WMV3), VC-2 (aka Dirac Pro), VC-3 (aka AVID DNxHD), VC-5 (aka Cineform)
Audio SMPTE 302M
Image DPX
ATSC/ETSI/DVB Audio Full Rate (GSM 06.10), AC-3 (Dolby Digital) and Enhanced AC-3 (Dolby Digital Plus)
Subtitle DVB Subtitling (ETSI 300 743)
DVD Forum/Dolby Audio MLP / Dolby TrueHD
Subtitle DVD-Video subtitles
DTS, Inc Audio DTS Coherent Acoustics (aka DTS or DCA), DTS Extended Surround (aka DTS-ES), DTS 96/24, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, DTS Express (aka DTS-HD LBR), DTS-HD Master Audio
Blu-ray Disc Association Subtitle PGS (Presentation Graphics Stream)
3GPP Audio AMR-NB, AMR-WB (aka G.722.2)
3GPP2 Audio QCELP-8 (aka SmartRate or IS-96C), QCELP-13 (aka PureVoice or IS-733) and Enhanced Variable Rate Codec (EVRC. aka IS-127)
World Wide Web Consortium Video Animated GIF
Subtitle WebVTT
Image GIF
IETF Audio iLBC (via libilbc), Opus and Comfort noise
International Voice Association Audio DSS-SP
SAC Video AVS video
Microsoft Video Microsoft RLE, Microsoft Video 1, Cinepak, Indeo (v2, v3 and v5),[23] Microsoft MPEG-4 v1, v2 and v3, Windows Media Video (WMV1, WMV2, WMV3/VC-1), WMV Screen and Mimic codec
Audio Windows Media Audio (WMA1, WMA2, WMA Pro and WMA Lossless), XMA (XMA1 and XMA2), MS-GSM and MS-ADPCM
Subtitle SAMI
Image Windows Bitmap, WMV Image (WMV9 Image and WMV9 Image v2) and DirectDraw Surface
Interactive Multimedia Association Audio IMA ADPCM
Digital Video Interactive Video RTV 2.1 (Intel Indeo 2)
Audio DVI4 audio codec
RealNetworks Video RealVideo 1, 2, 3 and 4
Audio RealAudio v1 – v10
Subtitle RealText
Apple Video Cinepak (Apple Compact Video), ProRes, Sorenson 3 Codec, QuickTime Animation (Apple Animation), QuickTime Graphics (Apple Graphics), Apple Video
Audio QDesign Music Codec 2 and ALAC
Adobe Flash Player (SWF) Video Screen video, Screen video 2, Sorenson Spark and VP6
Audio Adobe SWF ADPCM and Nellymoser Asao
Aldus / Adobe Image TIFF
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)[23][24] and PSX ADPCM
NTT Audio TwinVQ
On2 / GIPS / Google Video Duck TrueMotion 1, Duck TrueMotion 2, Duck TrueMotion 2.0 Real Time, VP3, VP5,[23] VP6,[23] VP7, VP8, VP9[17] and animated WebP
Audio DK ADPCM Audio 3/4, On2 AVC and iLBC (via libilbc)
Image WebP
RAD Game Tools Video Smacker video and Bink video
DSP Group Audio Truespeech
RenderWare Video TXD[25]
Netpbm Image PBM, PGM and PPM
MIT/X Consortium Image XBM and xwd
Silicon Graphics Video Silicon Graphics RLE 8-bit video, Silicon Graphics MVC1/2
Image Silicon Graphics Image
Oracle/Sun Microsystems Image Sun Raster
IBM Video IBM UltiMotion
Avid Technology / Truevision Video Avid 1:1x, Avid Meridien, Avid DNxHD and DNxHR
Image Targa
Autodesk / Alias Video Autodesk Animator Studio Codec and FLIC
Image Alias PIX
Grass Valley / Canopus Video HQ, HQA, HQX and Lossless
Industrial Light & Magic / Lucasfilm Image OpenEXR
Mozilla Corporation Video APNG
Matrox Video Matrox Uncompressed SD (M101) / HD (M102)
Asus Video ASUS V1/V2 codec

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


Output formats (container formats and other ways of creating output streams) in FFmpeg are called "muxers". FFmpeg supports, among others, the following:

Pixel formats

FFmpeg supports many pixel formats.[33] Some of these formats are only supported as input formats. The command ffmpeg -pix_fmts provides a list of supported pixel formats.

Type Color Packed Planar Palette
Without alpha With alpha Without alpha With alpha Chroma-interleaved With alpha
Monochrome Binary (1-bit monochrome) monoblack, monowhite - - - - -
Grayscale 8 / 10 / 12 / 16bpp 16 / 32bpp - - - -
RGB RGB 1:2:1 (4-bit color) 4bpp - - - - -
RGB 3:3:2 (8-bit color) 8bpp - - - - -
RGB 5:5:5 (High color) 16bpp - - - - -
RGB 5:6:5 (High color) 16bpp - - - - -
RGB/BGR 24 / 48bpp 32[p 1] / 64bpp - - - 8bit->32bpp
GBR[p 2] - - 8 / 9 / 10 / 12 / 14 / 16bpc 8 / 10 / 12 / 16bpc - -
YUV YVU 4:1:0 - - (9bpp (YVU9))[p 3] - - -
YUV 4:1:0 - - 9bpp - - -
YUV 4:1:1 8bpc (UYYVYY) - 8bpc - (8bpc (NV11)) -
YVU 4:2:0 - - (8bpc (YV12))[p 3] - 8 (NV21) -
YUV 4:2:0 - - 8 (I420 aka YUV420P) / 9 / 10 / 12 / 14 / 16bpc 8 / 9 / 10 / 16bpc 8 (NV12) / 10 (P010) / 16bpc (P016) -
YVU 4:2:2 - - (8bpc (YV16))[p 3] - (8bpc (NV61)) -
YUV 4:2:2 8bpc (YUYV[p 4] and UYVY)[p 5] - 8 (I422 aka YUV422P) / 9 / 10 / 16bpc 8 / 9 / 10 / 16bpc 8 (NV16) / 10bpc (NV20 aka P210)[p 6] -
YUV 4:4:0 - - 8 / 10 / 12bpc - - -
YVU 4:4:4 - - (8bpc (YV24))[p 3] - (8bpc (NV42)) -
YUV 4:4:4 (10 (Y410) and 16bpc (Y416)) 16bpc[p 7] 8 (I444 aka YUV444P) / 9 / 10 / 16bpc 8 / 9 / 10 / 16bpc (8bpc (NV24)) -
XYZ XYZ 4:4:4[p 8] 12bpc - - - - -
Bayer BGGR/RGGB/GBRG/GRBG 8 / 16bpp - - - - -
  1. RGBx (rgb0) and xBGR (0bgr) are also supported
  2. used in YUV-centric codecs such like H.264
  3. 1 2 3 4 YVU9, YV12, YV16, and YV24 are supported as rawvideo codec in FFmpeg.
  4. aka YUY2 in Windows
  5. 10bpc (Y210) is not supported. 16bpc (Y216) is supported as targa_y216 codec in FFmpeg.
  6. 16bpc (P216) is not supported
  7. 8bpc (AYUV) is not supported
  8. used in JPEG2000

FFmpeg does not support IMC1-IMC4, AI44, CYMK, RGB Float, RGBE, Log RGB and other formats. It also does not yet support ARGB 1:5:5:5, 2:10:10:10, or other BMP bitfield formats that are not commonly used.

Supported protocols

Open standards

De facto standards



Supported filters


  • Routing/Panning
    • Stereo widening (stereowiden)
    • Increase channel differences (extrastereo)
    • M/S to L/R (stereotools)
    • Channel mapping (channelmap)
    • Channel splitting (channelsplit)
    • Channel panning (pan)
    • Channel merging (amerge)
    • Channel joining (join)
    • for Headphones
      • Stereo to Binaural (earwax, ported from SoX)[37]
      • Bauer Stereo to Binaural (bs2b, via libbs2b)
      • Multi-channel to Binaural (sofalizer, requires libnetcdf)
    • Delay
      • Delay (adelay)
      • Delay by distance (compensationdelay)
  • Fade
  • Audio time-scale/pitch modification
    • Time stretching (atempo)
    • Time-stretching and Pitch-shifting (rubberband, via librubberband)
  • Editing
    • Trim (atrim)
    • Silence-padding (apad)
    • Silence remover (silenceremove)
  • Show frame/channel information
    • Show frame information (ashowinfo)
    • Show channel information (astats)
    • Show silence ranges (silencedetect)
    • Show audio volumes (volumedetect)
    • ReplayGain scanner (replaygain)
  • Modify frame/channel informations
    • Set output format (aformat)
    • Set number of sample (asetnsamples)
    • Set sampling rate (asetrate)
  • Mixer (amix)
  • Synchronization (asyncts)
  • HDCD data decoder (hdcd)
  • Plugins
  • Do nothing (anull)

Legal aspects

FFmpeg contains more than 100 codecs,[38] most of which use compression techniques of one kind or another. Many such compression techniques may be subject to legal claims relating to software patents.[39] Such claims may be enforceable in countries like the United States which have implemented software patents, but are considered unenforceable or void in member countries of the European Union, for example.

FFmtech Foundation

In June 2011 an election was organized to establish the board of FFmtech foundation,[40] 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.[41]

Projects using FFmpeg

FFmpeg is used by software such as VLC media player, xine, HandBrake, Plex, Blender, YouTube,[42] and MPC-HC;[43] it handles video and audio playback in Google Chrome,[43] and Linux version of Firefox.[44] Graphical user interface front-ends for FFmpeg have been developed, including Avanti,[45] and XMedia Recode. JavaCV, a Java wrapper for OpenCV, includes a supplementary Java wrapper for FFmpeg.[46]

FFmpeg is used by ffdshow, LAV Filters, GStreamer FFmpeg plug-in, Perian and OpenMAX IL to expand the encoding and decoding capabilities of their respective multimedia platform.



Main article: Libav

On March 13, 2011, a group of FFmpeg developers decided to fork the project under the name "Libav".[47][48][49] The event was related to a recent issue in project management, in which developers disagreed with the leadership of FFmpeg.[50][51][52]

See also


  1. "Initial revision - git.videolan.org/ffmpeg.git/commit". git.videolan.org. 2000-12-20. Retrieved 2013-05-11.
  2. "FFmpeg 3.2 "Hypatia"". FFmpeg Git. 2016-11-26. Retrieved 2016-11-26.
  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 NVIDIA Performance Primitives, an optional external library, is proprietary software and cannot be distributed under the terms of the GPL.
  6. 1 2 "FFmpeg: Lavf: I/O and Muxing/Demuxing Library". ffmpeg.org. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  7. Bellard, Fabrice (18 February 2006). "FFmpeg naming and logo". FFmpeg developer mailing list. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  8. Carlsen, Steve (1992-06-03). "TIFF 6.0 specification" (PS). Aldus. p. 98. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2004. Retrieved 2016-08-14. Zig-Zag Scan
  9. Niedermayer, Michael. "[FFmpeg-devel] FFmpegs future and resigning as leader". Retrieved 2015-09-22.
  10. "ffmpeg.org/download.html#releases". ffmpeg.org. Retrieved 2015-04-27.
  11. "FFmpeg and a thousand fixes". googleblog.com. January 10, 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  12. 1 2 "NUT". Multimedia Wiki. 2012. Retrieved 2014-01-03.
  13. Glaser, Fiona (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. 1 2 "Native VP9 decoder is now in the Git master branch". Launchpad. 2013-10-03. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  17. 1 2 "FFmpeg Now Features Native HEVC/H.265 Decoder Support". Softpedia. 2013-10-16. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  18. FFmpeg (2016-02-15). "February 15th, 2016, FFmpeg 3.0 "Einstein"". Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  19. "FFmpeg Automated Testing Environment". Fate.multimedia.cx. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  20. "FFmpeg Hardware Acceleration". ffmpeg.org Wiki. Retrieved 2016-11-12.
  21. "FFmpeg Changelog".
  22. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Changelog". FFmpeg trunk SVN. FFmpeg. 17 April 2007. Retrieved 26 April 2007.
  23. "ATRAC3plus decoder - git.videolan.org Git - ffmpeg.git/commit". git.videolan.org. 2013-12-28. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  24. 1 2 "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg. 7 May 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2010.
  25. vitor (13 April 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  26. vitor (30 March 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  27. benoit (14 April 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 14 April 2008.
  28. Michael Niedermayer, Timothy Gu (2014-12-05). "RELEASE NOTES for FFmpeg 2.5 "Bohr"". VideoLAN. Retrieved 2014-12-05.
  29. ramiro (18 March 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 18 March 2008.
  30. banan (8 June 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  31. faust3 (21 March 2008). "FFmpeg development mailing list". FFmpeg development. FFmpeg website. Retrieved 21 March 2008.
  32. "FFmpeg: libavutil/pixfmt.h File Reference - enum AVPixelFormat". FFmpeg Project. 2015-11-17. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
  33. van Kesteren, Anne (2010-09-01). "Internet Drafts are not Open Standards". annevankesteren.nl. Self-published. Retrieved 2015-03-22.
  34. Real Time Streaming Protocol 2.0 (RTSP) draft-ietf-mmusic-rfc2326bis-40 P.231
  35. "rtsp: Support tls-encapsulated RTSP - git.videolan.org Git - ffmpeg.git/commit". videolan.org. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  36. How it works earwax.ca
  37. "Codecs list". ffmpeg.org. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  38. "Legal information on FFmpeg's website". ffmpeg.org. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  39. "[Ffmtech-board-election] FFmtech board elections". June 8, 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  40. "[Ffmpeg-devel-irc] ffmpeg-devel.log.20150814". August 14, 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  41. "Google's YouTube Uses FFmpeg | Breaking Eggs And Making Omelettes". Multimedia.cx. 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
  42. 1 2 "FFmpeg-based Projects". Ffmpeg.org. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  43. "Firefox Enables FFmpeg Support By Default". Phoronix. 2015-11-15. Retrieved 2015-11-18.
  44. "Avanti: FFmpeg/Avisynth GUI". Retrieved 2011-08-17.
  45. "JavaCV". GitHub. 2015.
  46. Libav project site, retrieved 2012-01-04
  47. Ronald S. Bultje (2011-03-14), Project renamed to Libav, retrieved 2012-01-04
  48. A group of FFmpeg developers just forked as Libav, Phoronix, 2011-03-14, retrieved 2012-01-04
  49. What happened to FFmpeg, 2011-03-30, retrieved 2012-05-19
  50. FFMpeg turmoil, 2011-01-19, retrieved 2012-01-04
  51. "The FFmpeg/Libav situation". blog.pkh.me. Retrieved 2015-09-22.

External links

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