Home > FFmpeg, How-To, Video > How-To: Extract images from a video file using FFmpeg

How-To: Extract images from a video file using FFmpeg

Extracting all frames from a video file is easily achieved with FFmpeg.

Here’s a simple command line that will create 25 PNG images from every second of footage in the input DV file. The images will be saved in the current directory.

ffmpeg -i input.dv -r 25 -f image2 images%05d.png

The newly created files will all start with the word “images” and be numbered consecutively, including five pre-appended zeros. e.g. images000001.png.

From a video that was 104 seconds long, for a random example, this command would create 2600 PNG files! Quite messy in the current directory, so instead use this command to save the files in a sub-directory called extracted_images:

ffmpeg -i input.dv -r 25 -f image2 extracted_images/images%05d.png

Moving on, let’s say you just wanted 25 frames from the first 1 second, then this line will work:

ffmpeg -i input.dv -r 25 -t 00:00:01 -f image2 images%05d.png

The -t flag in FFmpeg specifies the length of time to transcode. This can either be in whole seconds or hh:mm:ss format.

Making things a little more complex we can create images from all frames, beginning at the tenth second, and continuing for 5 seconds, with this line:

ffmpeg -i input.dv -r 25 -ss 00:00:10 -t 00:00:05 -f image2 images%05d.png

The -ss flag is used to denote start position, again in whole seconds or hh:mm:ss format.

Maybe extracting an image from every single frame in a video, resulting in a large number of output files, is not what you need. Here’s how to create a single indicative poster frame, of the video clip, from the first second of footage:

ffmpeg -i input.dv -r 1  -t 00:00:01 -f image2 images%05d.png

Notice that the -r flag is now set to 1.

If you want the poster frame from a different part of the clip, then specify which second to take it from using the -ss tag, in conjunction with the line above.

Lastly, if you wanted to create a thumbnail story board, showing action throughout the entire length of the video clip, you’ll need to specify the output image dimensions. Use the following line:

ffmpeg -i input.dv -r 1 -f image2 -s 120x96 images%05d.png

My original file was 720×576, so the image dimensions are a whole division of this.

  1. yulia
    March 3, 2008 at 14:02

    Thank you for this explanation!
    May be you can help me with the following problem:
    Given the .flv I need to extract 10 images from the begining to the end of the video. Each time it would be a different clip with it’s length. The first image will be from 1st second, the 2nd from (length/10)*2, then (length/10)*3 etc……and the 10th picture is from the last second.
    Can I do it in one command, without checking the length of the file and 10 times calling?
    Thank you in advance!

  2. phillc
    March 5, 2008 at 06:38

    Yulia, maybe you could try this command:
    ffmpeg -i input.dv -r 1 -f image2 images%05d.png
    That should extract 1 image from every second of the video. So, if your video is 10 seconds long, it will extract 10 images.
    Is this what you mean?

  3. zeropaper
    May 31, 2008 at 12:13

    first: thanks for sharing your tips.
    I’m also trying to extract images from a movie (I guess as yulia would like too).
    I have some movies who are only few seconds long and some others who may be more than an hour.
    For every movies I would like to extract 3 images (one at the start, one at the middle and finally one at the end).
    Until yet, I did check the length of the movie, divide it by 3 and use something like that (where [SS] is the time in seconds of the picture to extract):
    ffmpeg -i input.dv -vframes 1 -ss [SS] -f image2 images%d.png
    It works, but… if the movie is more than 30 minutes (for example, could be more longer) the process will take a lot of time (and by the way I need then 3 commands, not really nice…).
    I also have also try something like:
    ffmpeg -i input.dv -r [R] -f image2 images%d.png
    Where [R] is a really small float value obtained by the number of images I would like divided by the length of the movie in seconds. But here the problem is that I can not use [R] smaller than 0.1.
    Any better idea?
    Thanks again (and in advancešŸ˜‰ )

  4. November 30, 2010 at 14:43

    You explained very well how to extract images from a video file using FFmpeg, this post proved to be very useful for me as it helped me to do that. I am so glad that I have bookmarked this website because I see that it is full of various and attractive information about everything.

  5. koshap
    December 7, 2010 at 12:58

    For fast seek at video file, ffmpeg comand line parametrs -ss vust go defore -i .

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