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How to convert media files using FFmpeg

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ffmpeg by itself is a simple media converter.

simple stepsEdit

  1. Grab FFmpeg. It's free. Download ffmpeg for Windows:
  2. Run "ffmpeg -i (input/source media file) (newfile)" ; e.g.: "ffmpeg -i old.avi new.mp4"

convert audio to MP3 Edit

It is possible to convert the audio of a video that you downloaded (or any audio file, for that matter) to .mp3 for listening on a portable audio device.

How to convert media files using FFmpeg is an article / guide on this very website (wiki).


ffmpeg -i audio.aac -acodec mp3 -ac 2 -ab 160 audio.mp3

( from: See, in particular: jfreak53's posting to the thread.)

ffmpeg -i audio.aac -acodec libmp3lame audio.mp3

( source: )

to and from other formats Edit

Many audio player devices support compression algorithms (formats) (encodings) other than .mp3

such as

  • Windows Media Audio (.wma)
  • (.aac) AAC Advanced Audio Codec for iPods) using FFmpeg)
  • maybe even FLAC, in a few cases. (Free Lossless Audio Codec).

"ffmpeg audio format conversions" provides many command line examples for conversion from many combinations of different video and audio encodings.

wikipedia: FFmpeg#Codecs.2C_formats_and_protocols_supported

extract media streams Edit

Video files usually are container files that, in turn, contain at least one stream of media content. Typically, there are two streams: one video stream, and one audio stream. The contents of these streams (these bitstreams) can easily be extracted and saved as separate individual files.

FFmpeg can also re-mux (re-multiplex) those individual streams into an integrated container file for playback.

ffmpeg -i audiofile.wav -i videofile.ogv -acodec copy -vcodec copy destination-new-muxed-video-filename.ogv

In the case of DVDs, for example,

More than one concurrent simultaneous audio track (different language dialogue, alternate soundtrack music, Director's commentary, surround sound mix) can comprise multiple streams of audio that are contained by one given individual container multimedia file (such as VOB files on video DVDs, and .mp4 containers, or .mkv).

Also, the DVD format spec allows for the possibility of simultaneous camera feeds (angles) that can be chosen by the viewer of the DVD. Most DVDs don't have this content, but if they do - this is achieved by having more than one paralell/simultaneous/concurrent video streams enclosed within one container file.

Extract video stream from original container file and store it in a seperate, new video-only file (with no audio).

ffmpeg -i original-video-container-file.mp4 -an -vcodec copy video-only.mp4


Don't necessarily rely on the package of "FFmpeg" that ships with Ubuntu, for example. Seek out 3rd-party packages (builds) of FFmpeg.

derivatives from the codebase Edit

It is possible to compile FFmpeg from sources (the source code of the project). This may be advisable since some binaries (builds/ distributions) of FFmpeg can be crippled, like the one provided by Ubuntu. <-- That is because of the LibAV fork of FFmpeg's codebase. See below: #related software.

You may notice that FFmpeg('s codebase) is used in (/ powers / serves as the basis of) some proprietary video converters. This is in violation of GPL because the source code of that derivative software is not, itself, made available (open source).

But don't worry about licenses! That doesn't make FFmpeg any less relevant or beneficial.

See Also Edit

Read more about FFmpeg on Wikipedia at wikipedia: FFmpeg

related software Edit

MeEcoder is part of the mplayer package and software project. wikipedia: MEncoder is sibling software to wikipedia: MPlayer.

FFmpeg (in library form, as well as the binary self-executable programm/app), as well as MEncoder and MPlayer, and VLC all use wikipedia: libavcodec (Lib AV Codec open source library) at their cores.

FORK: This library (which basically is the FFmpeg project,) was forked by Ubuntu/Debian into wikipedia: Libav. (Lib A.V.)

FFmpeg can actually use LAME and FLAC encoding libraries to convert into those formats.

There is a command-line version of lame (the LAME encoder project), as well. wikipedia: LAME

wikipedia: FLAC is the Free Lossless Audio Codec. A command-line app (program) "flac" exists (see man page)

wikipedia: List of hardware and software that supports FLAC

internal articles Edit

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