… for Codecs & Media

Tip #304: What is FFmpeg?

An open source project supporting hundreds of media formats.

The FFmpeg logo, reflecting how many media files are compressed.

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FFmpeg is a free and open-source project consisting of a vast software suite of libraries and programs for handling video, audio, and other multimedia files and streams. At its core is the FFmpeg program itself, designed for command-line-based processing of video and audio files, and widely used for format transcoding, basic editing (trimming and concatenation), video scaling, video post-production effects, and standards compliance.

FFmpeg is part of the workflow of hundreds of other software projects, and its libraries are a core part of software media players such as VLC, and has been included in core processing for YouTube and the iTunes inventory of files. Codecs for the encoding and/or decoding of most of all known audio and video file formats are included, making it highly useful for the transcoding of common and uncommon media files into a single common format.

The name of the project is inspired by 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.

The FFmpeg project was started by Fabrice Bellard in 2000. Most non-programmers access the FFmpeg suite of programs using a “front-end.” This is software that puts a user interface on the FFmpeg engine. Examples include: Handbrake, ffWorks, MPEG Streamclip, and QWinFF.


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