AWS Debian Squeeze AMI with FFmpeg and X264

October 22, 2009 Leave a comment

Stream #0 has now made available our first Amazon Web Services (AWS) AMI. This is based on Eric Hammond’s 64-bit Squeeze AMI: ami-fcf61595.

The first Stream #0 AMI can be found by looking for the following AMI ID in the AWS Management Console: ami-b535d6dc

The following additions have been made over the base Squeeze build:

  • Added Debian Multimedia Repository
  • Updated and Upgraded to October 22nd 2009 latest packages
  • Build x264 from source. r1301
  • Build FFmpeg from source. r20350

FFmpeg has been configured as per the options noted in the How-To here

Ultimately we’re planning to build a few different AMI variations. e.g. Lenny with FFmpeg 0.5 build and x264 from Debian Multimedia Repo as a slightly more stable version of the “Squeeze build everything from source” AMI approach.

The AMI has been made public and Stream0 would really appreciate feedback on this, our first time AMI build.

Everything you need to know about Amazon’s Web Services:

Amazon Web Services
AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
AWS Developer Guide
Alestic – listing Debian and Ubuntu AMIs
ec2debian Google Group

How-To Build FFmpeg on Debian Squeeze

October 22, 2009 8 comments

It’s been a long time now since I wrote my original How-To for building FFmpeg on Debian. A lot has changed since then, in both the Debian and FFmpeg world, so it’s definitely time for an update.

This tutorial describes how to build x264 and FFmpeg from scratch, on a base Debian Squeeze system. Throughout this tutorial I will be assuming that you are operating as either root or su, or aware of how to use sudo (make sure you’ve added yourself to the /etc/sudoers list).

First, we need to update the sources list. I use pico as my text editor, as I was a long time Pine mail user way back when. Feel free to use vi or emacs if you prefer.

Go to the Debian Multimedia repository site and download the keyring package. Follow the instructions for unpackaging it about half-way down the front page. Now update your sources list:

>pico /etc/apt/sources.list

Add deb squeeze main on a new line and save the file.

>aptitude update
>aptitude full-upgrade

Now you’re using the latest sources and packages.

Next, install all the additional libraries we’ll need:

>aptitude install install build-essential subversion git-core yasm libgpac-dev libdirac-dev libgsm1-dev libschroedinger-dev libspeex-dev libvorbis-dev libopenjpeg-dev libdc1394-dev libsdl1.2-dev zlib1g-dev texi2html libfaac-dev libfaad-dev libmp3lame-dev libtheora-dev libxvidcore4-dev libopencore-amrnb-dev libopencore-amrwb-dev

Once that has successfully completed, it’s time to grab the latest x264 code:

>git clone git://
>cd x264
>./configure –enable-shared
>make install

Hopefully all is still going well and you encountered no errors so far. Great, let’s grab FFmpeg from Subversion:

>svn checkout svn:// ffmpeg
>cd ffmpeg

Now to configure FFmpeg. There’s so many options, it’s sometimes hard to know which ones to choose. The list below is my personal preference, but do try ./configure –help to assist in choosing your own.

>./configure –enable-gpl –enable-postproc –enable-pthreads –enable-libfaac –enable-libfaad –enable-libmp3lame –enable-libtheora –enable-libx264 –enable-shared –enable-nonfree –enable-libvorbis –enable-libgsm –enable-libspeex –enable-libschroedinger –enable-libdirac –enable-avfilter –enable-avfilter-lavf –enable-libdc1394 –enable-libopenjpeg –enable-libopencore-amrnb –enable-libopencore-amrwb –enable-version3

After a successful configuration, all the enabled decoders, encoders and muxers will be displayed. There are some configuration dependencies here. If you don’t –enable-gpl things like postproc will fail at build time. Next….

>make install

“Make” will probably take quite a long time.

Optionally you may like to build qt-faststart as well. If you don’t know what this does, use Google, but in short it arranges atoms in QuickTime header files to allow for progressive download delivery.

>make tools/qt-faststart

If you try to use FFmpeg now, by simply typing “ffmpeg” you are likely to encounter an error regarding shared libraries (we did build FFmpeg with –enable-shared). To fix this we do the following:

>pico /etc/

Add the line “/usr/local/lib” (without quotes) to this file and then save it. Read more about dynamically linked libraries here, specifically the fourth paragraph to explain what we just did.


That’s it! Finished. Pretty easy, right? Now you just need to learn how to use FFmpeg, but that’s a topic for another day. Very briefly though, here’s a command line for creating a 2-pass H264 file, at 750kbps and 480×360 resolution, in a mov container, with progressive download enabled.

>ffmpeg -y -i inputfile.mpg -pass 1 -vcodec libx264 -vpre fastfirstpass -s 480×360 -b 750k -bt 750k -threads 0 -f mov -an /dev/null && ffmpeg -deinterlace -y -i inputfile.mpg -pass 2 -acodec libfaac -ab 128k -ac 2 -vcodec libx264 -vpre hq -s 480×360 -b 750k -bt 750k -threads 0 -f mov


Categories: FFmpeg, Video Tags: , , ,

OpenShot Video Editor’s New Skin

October 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Call me shallow, but in all seriousness the main reason I’ve not tried OpenShot video editor is that I can’t stand the glossy, glassy, bubbly look of their default colour scheme. Dislike KDE? Not that I necessarily do, but OpenShot’s theme was like KDE, but worse, much, much worse.

It seems like that’s all just changed for the better! A new “matt” theme is now available for OpenShot, and at first glance it looks much more appealing to my eyes. This will fit much better with my matt XFCE theme
See the latest blog post over on the OpenShot website, with details of how to change from the default theme, and then have a look at the two screen shots below:
Default (Before):
Matt Theme (After):
I guess that takes away any perceived barrier I had to trying this software. Happy days, I can now temporarily join the OpenShot massive (as long as I don’t visit their website too often).

Kdenlive 0.7.6 Released

October 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Just 3 months after the last release, Kdenlive is out with 0.7.6. They even had a pre-release message on their homepage for the last week or so.

The new features are:

  • Title module: rewrite, now allows for basic animation (title zoom & scroll)
  • Track rename: users can now rename tracks
  • Composite transition: keyframes can now be moved
  • Clip management: image and audio clips are automatically monitored and updated in the timeline whenever they change on disk
  • User interface cleanup: cleaner look for timeline
  • Capture monitor improvements: now shows available disk space & timecode, also allows to choose a name for captured files
  • Project management: project settings dialog now allows you to clear the thumbnails cache and delete all videoclips that are not used in the project
  • Improved clip markers: they are now displayed in the clip monitor ruler, and user can easily go to each marker from the context menu
  • Shutdown computer after rendering

Apparently stability is improved as well, through using the latest 0.4.6 version of the MLT Framework.

Read all the details on the Release Notes page and download the application from the Kdenlive website.

Categories: Kdenlive, Video Tags: ,

Applying the HandBrake – Stopping Short of Video Transcoding

October 2, 2009 Leave a comment

Finding a full featured open source video transcoding solution is no easy task. There is of course FFmpeg, which is fantastic and powerful, but one does need to spend a serious amount of time learning the syntax and various options. This is fine if you’re taking one type of input file and creating one type of output file. Easy to script and I’ve seen some really good results, especially using the x264 library. However, trying to find a nice GUI to do the same thing, so far no joy.

I had really hoped HandBrake might be the right tool for the job. It’s been around for a long time now, it’s not just for Mac anymore and there seems to be an active community around it.

The last stable release was almost 10 months ago, but recently an SVN snapshot build was supplied, with some pre-compiled packages to go with it. The usual caveats apply, but the change log provided some tantalising updates, so I decided to try it out.

My home laptop is running Debian Squeeze, but I decided to try the Ubuntu 9.04 GUI package, as I was lazy and didn’t feel like compiling from source. Maybe this was a mistake….. The installation of the deb package went fine. No errors to speak of and a nice little HandBrake icon appeared in my Sound & Video menu. Starting the application also worked flawlessly.

I hadn’t used HandBrake before, so I didn’t know what to expect. On first glance the software appears to be mainly geared towards H.264 transcoding. While this is currently an important video codec, I was hoping for a much wider range of output options. I couldn’t find any.

Fine, let’s stick with H.264. My source file for testing was 4.2GB of DNxHD – a little over 3 minutes of content at 185Mbps. HandBrake uses FFmpeg in the backend to do the transcode heavy lifting. I know FFmpeg supports DNxHD, so I was not expecting any real problems. Unfortunately, my assumption proved to be incorrect.

Selecting the DNxHD file as source, HandBrake scanned the file for a couple of minutes, then stopped. No error message, no warning, just the UI sitting there waiting for the next input. Fortunately, there’s an Activity Window to select and view the command line output. Here’s what I saw…..

Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from ‘/home/phillc/Media/South Pacific Avid':
  Duration: 00:03:11.12, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 189668 kb/s
    Stream #0.0(eng): Video: dnxhd, 1920×1080, PAR 1:1 DAR 16:9, 25 tbr, 25 tbn, 25 tbc
    Stream #0.1(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.2(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.3(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.4(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.5(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.6(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.7(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
    Stream #0.8(eng): Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, mono, s16, 768 kb/s
[10:14:27] scan: decoding previews for title 1
[10:14:45] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:14:58] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:15:12] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:15:26] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:15:40] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:15:54] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:16:08] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:16:23] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:16:35] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:16:49] scan: could not get a decoded picture
[10:16:49] libhb: scan thread found 0 valid title(s)

What’s it all mean?

It would seem that FFmpeg recognised a valid DNxHD file. It found the video track and 8 tracks of audio, but after this, who knows! Not being able to get a decoded picture is not an error I’ve come across using FFmpeg from the command line before.

EDIT: The root of this problem is actually FFmpeg and not Handbrake. The DNxHD file was 10-bit, but FFmpeg currently only supports 8-bit files of this codec.

That’s as far as I’ve managed to travel in the HandBrake world. I had a look at some of the H.264 file output options, which are comprehensive, but don’t at first glance seem to support the general x264 preset options. HandBrake presets are more geared towards devices – iPod and Apple TV. It appears to be possible to queue multiple jobs using HandBrake, but not set watch folders nor apply rules for output files. E.g Once transcoding is finished, move file to folder X.

HandBrake is probably a good tool for those looking to create web media, from DVD or Camcorder source, but it’s not powerful enough to deal with high end media from the post-production or broadcast domain.

Cinelerra Quietly Releases New Version

October 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Without much ado, Heroine Virtual has quietly released Cinelerra 4.1 earlier this month.

A full list of detailed changes is available on the Cinelerra website.
In the race for who has the most effects in their Open Source editing tool, Cinelerra totals 58 in a list claimed not to be updated, including really useful items such a Reverse Telecine, Deinterlance and Denoise. For me, this trumps OpenShot’s Glow, Water and Echo.
After 10 minutes trawling, I can’t seem to figure out if the CinelerraCV (Community Version) is tracking to the latest code or not. There’s been no News announcements on their website since June 2009.

OpenShot Video Editor Adds New Effects

October 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Some noise on the Interwebs has been made in the last couple of days regarding the latest updates to the OpenShot Video Editor

The is now a PPA (that’s Personal Package Archive, for those who don’t use or care about Ubuntu) available for OpenShot, as well as the inclusion of 33 new video and audio effects.
I applaud the work done by the OpenShot team, as I still believe Open Source non-linear video editing has much room for growth. However, I do question the need for 33 new video and audio effects. Some of the new effects are very nice, a welcome inclusion and most likely quite useful. Chroma Key (Green Screen) support is one of those. However, other effects are largely just eye candy which I’m not clear would be truly useful to the serious editor. These include Glow and Water from the video effect selection and Echo from the audio options. How often would a professional video editor use these tools in a commercial solution such as Final Cut Pro? (which actually has over 150 effects and transitions, so I guess there’s a place for them!) From my own, limited, editing experience, I rarely use effects, sticking mostly to simple fade transitions.
The most important aspect of any video editing software is stability and codec support. I can’t accurately comment on OpenShot in this area, as I’ve not tested the software – I just can’t get past that bubble blue button interface.
I couldn’t easily find a complete list of all the new 33 effects, so best to read the blog post on the OpenShot site for more information, complete with a small dig at the PiTiVi team.

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