FFmpeg is a very powerful tool for video-related tasks. It supports almost all video codecs that exist. The power of FFmpeg lies in its CLI and the different parameters you set to get the desired output.
In this article, I am listing some very popular FFmpeg transcoding commands which take a video input and convert it into h265, HEVC, vp9, and av1 format.
In most of the
ffmpegcommands, you will find a
crfproperty. You can tweak this value to get a better size-to-quality ratio. Lower
crfmeans better quality.
Supported profiles by FFmpeg
Working of FFmpeg in your device depends on many factors including hardware support and installed driver versions. To check what profiles are supported in your device, run the following.
The output of the above command in my machine looks like this. Your output may vary.
vainfo: Supported profile and entrypoints VAProfileMPEG2Simple : VAEntrypointVLD VAProfileMPEG2Main : VAEntrypointVLD VAProfileVC1Simple : VAEntrypointVLD VAProfileVC1Main : VAEntrypointVLD VAProfileVC1Advanced : VAEntrypointVLD VAProfileH264ConstrainedBaseline: VAEntrypointVLD VAProfileH264ConstrainedBaseline: VAEntrypointEncSlice VAProfileH264Main : VAEntrypointVLD VAProfileH264Main : VAEntrypointEncSlice VAProfileH264High : VAEntrypointVLD VAProfileH264High : VAEntrypointEncSlice VAProfileHEVCMain : VAEntrypointVLD VAProfileHEVCMain : VAEntrypointEncSlice VAProfileHEVCMain10 : VAEntrypointVLD VAProfileHEVCMain10 : VAEntrypointEncSlice VAProfileJPEGBaseline : VAEntrypointVLD VAProfileVP9Profile0 : VAEntrypointVLD VAProfileVP9Profile2 : VAEntrypointVLD VAProfileNone : VAEntrypointVideoProc
vainfo command, I can encode and decode for both
Software Encoding into h265 video codec
We all know that
h265 has a lower bitrate for the same quality video than
h264. It means your video files get smaller in size for the same video quality if you transcode your video file into
Software encoding is slow but it produces better compression and better-quality output. If you have time and want better-quality encoding, you should use software encoding.
ffmpeg -i input -c:v libx265 -crf 26 -preset fast -c:a aac -b:a 128k output.mp4
Hardware accelerated encoding into HEVC codec
If you have a good quality GPU that supports
HEVC video encoding, then you can use this feature. This method takes less time but produces a larger file as compared to software encoding. Sometimes hardware accelerated encoding reduces the video quality.
To find what
vaapi_devices are installed in your computer, run the following command.
Now add the driver path in the
-vaapi_devices argument in your
ffmpeg command to start the encoding process.
ffmpeg -vaapi_device /dev/dri/renderD128 -i input -vf 'format=nv12,hwupload' -c:v hevc_vaapi -profile:v main -rc_mode CQP -global_quality 25 output.mp4
VP9 compression using FFmpeg
VP9 compression is at par with
h265 and has a wide range of hardware support.
Vp9 format is open-sourced and used by large organizations.
To get better compression using
VP9 encoding, a two-pass process is used.
ffmpeg -i input.mkv -b:v 0 -tile-columns 2 -g 240 -threads 8 -quality good -crf 31 -c:v libvpx-vp9 -pass 1 -an -f null /dev/null && \ ffmpeg -i input.mkv -b:v 0 -tile-columns 3 -g 240 -threads 8 -quality good -crf 31 -c:v libvpx-vp9 -c:a libopus -pass 2 -speed 4 -y output.webm
Follow this Google developer guide for a better understanding.
FFmpeg AV1 encoding with libaom-av1
AV1 is a superior compression algorithm than
vp9 (i.e. 30% better) and
av1 software encoding is very slow. You should have a dedicated graphics card that supports
av1 hardware encoding. Otherwise, the process is too slow and there is no benefit of using it.
To check if
libaom module is present in your
ffmpeg installation, run
ffmpeg -h encoder=libaom-av1.
ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -c:v libaom-av1 -crf 30 av1_test.mkv
FFmpeg is a versatile tool for video compression and transcoding process. If you need more control over the process, you have to dig deep into FFmpeg documentation. In addition to this, if you want to get the framerate of a video, read this article. Happy coding.